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The MoveThe Move
Album: Move (Expanded Edition)
Label: Esoteric
Tracks: 26+20+19

The Move were always an enigma - in an era where enigmas were almost the norm. In retrospect, they can be regarded as a kind of early supergroup, in that they arose out of Birmingham's mid-60s beat scene and drew their ace talents from several different "workaday combos". The group comprised Carl Wayne, Trevor Burton, Roy Wood, Chris "Ace" Kefford and Bev Bevan - an awesome combination by any standards - and yet despite all that musicianship their cataclysmic pre-psychedelic stage act at first centred more around bizarre and attention-grabbing stuff like flashes and explosions and general wreckage, then later light-shows. Their initial adoption of a "gangster" image, manufactured by manager Tony Secunda, confused matters even further, especially when considering the snazzy "Move" logo which conjured something more intensely and consistently psychedelic than the wildly unpredictable pot-pourri that would confront purchasers of their records. A mix that is paraded exhaustively, and in all its glory, over the course of the three discs that comprise this wonderfully lavish new expanded edition of The Move's debut LP, which was finally released on Regal Zonophone in 1968, almost two years into their career.

The LP itself (in the original mono mix, remastered) takes up roughly half of the first disc, with disc two bringing the various alternate and stereo mixes as well as some valuable outtakes including the two-part Move, the band's unofficial theme song. The band's recordings from early 1966 are appended as bonus tracks on the first disc, and deliver an uncertain transitional mix that encompasses the searing freakbeat of then-prospective-single You're What I Need, the country-rock of Winter Song and the decidedly Beatle-inspired The Fugitive; five contemporaneous radio session tracks hark back to the mod-soul vogue of the time (albeit enlivened by the occasional storming guitar solo). But with the onset (and encouragement) of Roy Wood's songwriting came a major sea-change, whereby his own wayward "innate and persistent eclecticism" determined the nature and course of the band's repertoire from then on in. The autumn-'66-recorded debut single Night Of Fear was a truly distinctive statement, with a nightmare-inspired lyric and a Tchaikovsky-1812 riff given a heavy-duty rock setting, while the heady psychodrama of its pulsing B-side, Disturbance, was (and still is) seriously terrifying. Followup single I Can Hear The Grass Grow perfectly caught the zeitgeist, though its flip seemed by comparison something of a retro outing. To some extent, its tameness in contrast to the preceding sides prefigured the inconsistency that was to characterise the long-awaited Move LP, which eventually appeared in the racks nearly a year later; this was a frustratingly diverse animal bringing together (under one slightly shaky roof) an almost arbitrary, idiosyncratic assemblage of musical experiences. Though creatively orchestrated by Tony Visconti, the LP's impact wasn't exactly helped by sporting a confusing array of styles, not to mention several different lead vocalists, so that it sometimes sounded like a compilation of completely different groups.

Move the album embraced archetypal period-psych-paisley-pop (Yellow Rainbow, Lemon Tree, Kilroy Was Here, Useless Information and the decidedly weird but brilliant Walk Upon The Water) through hit singles (Fire Brigade and the iconic Flowers In The Rain). The beautifully scored folky-atmospherics of Mist On A Monday Morning were compromised by blowsy over-arrangement elsewhere (The Girl Outside), while the orchestration of Cherry Blossom Clinic seemed to give us an advance taste of ELO. Then at the other extreme there was outright west-coast rock (Hey Grandma), rock'n'roll of the greasy variety (Weekend), and the must-skip doo-wop turkey Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart. In the year of the LP's belated appearance (1968), music fans with the broadest of tastes might have balked at the bewilderingly illogical disparity of the music on offer (even those who'd got into the retro parallel-universe of Zappa's Ruben & The Jets). Finally, Disc 3 presents a host of BBC radio sessions from the key year January 1967 through January 1968, and the band's receptiveness to the then-current American west-coast sounds is demonstrated by able covers of Morning Dew and songs by Love, The Byrds and Moby Grape. The "musical schizophrenia" of the band's output, not least within Roy's own writing, would of course be explored further, and arguably more creatively, on the band's subsequent albums, next in line for reissue by Esoteric.

This expanded edition of Move is very highly recommended, not just for its superb presentation (great booklet essay, poster montage, disc design and sturdy package) but also for the copious amount of extra material (including two previously unreleased acetates) that's unquestionably of considerable interest. Some of this extra material has appeared before, of course (on mid-90s reissue packages), but this fantastic new edition is definitive and the one to have in your collection.

David Kidman