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Reviews

The MoveThe Move
Album: Shazam (Expanded Edition)
Label: Esoteric
Tracks: 18+25
Website: http://www.esotericrecordings.com

Second in the ongoing series of expanded editions sees The Move undergoing drastic metamorphosis and lightning personnel changes during the two years following the early-1968 release of their eponymous debut LP and culminating in the (eventual) release (in February 1970) of its followup, Shazam. An awful lot happened in the music scene over that period, and The Move that recorded and released Shazam was itself a quite different beast. Bassist Ace Kefford had departed the band shortly after the release of Move, then Trevor Burton quit less than a year later, to be replaced by Rick Price, with whom Roy Wood, Carl Wayne and Bev Bevan managed to complete recordings for the album that would become Shazam. The 18 months in between, however, found the band vacillating musically, without a clear sense of direction - for while Roy Wood's songwriting was incredibly versatile, it was also not easy to pin down and stylistically almost entirely unpredictable.

The debut LP's inability to define a "sustainable creative milieu" only fostered further indecision when it came to choice of material for subsequent singles, and you couldn't get more diverse than the gawky pop of Curly (complete with its chorale of high-school recorders!); the heavy-duty, dubiously risqué Wild Tiger Woman; its catchier flip, Omnibus (coincidentally utilising the identical bass-riff motif that had graced I Can Hear The Grass Grow, Yellow Rainbow and Curly); and the monumental, timelessly Beatle-esque pop of Blackberry Way (which, interestingly, prefigured Jeff Lynne's arrival in the group over a year later, by virtue of its demo having been recorded in Jeff's own home studio). And of course there was the ill-fated live EP Something Else (of which more in the next instalment of this reissue series). But all of the above singles and B-sides and alternate takes are presented as bonus tracks on the exhaustive first disc of the Shazam expanded edition (all that's missing is the Italian-language version of A Certain Something that had cropped up on the mid-90s West Side anniversary box). The remainder of the between-albums period is chronicled on the second disc, which delivers the plethora of BBC radio sessions covering the 18 months from May 1968 to November 1969, many previously unreleased. Reflecting the group's live performances during that period - on the UK stage, in cabaret (yes, really!) and finally over in America - these sessions mainly comprised a decidedly eclectic mix of covers far removed from the Shazam material: songs from Jackie Wilson, Goffin/King, Big Brother, Beach Boys, Dion, Paul Simon, Everly Brothers, Deep Purple, Spooky Tooth, and country classics Long Black Veil and Christian Life, and yet they prove surprisingly satisfying.

The Shazam LP itself is present here in all its remastered glory, and its six (yes, only six - after all, this was now 1970!) tracks almost all proudly display a mightily powerful, altogether heavier riff-dominated sound compared to the often whimsical, pop-psych-oriented melange that was the first Move album. The exception (which also happens to be the only track lasting less than four minutes) is the delicate, strings-bedecked Beautiful Daughter, while Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited reworked the first album's final track into a peroration that cobbled together (psychotically, tho' quite deliciously too) a slew of rocked-up classical-music references from Bach's Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring to The Sorcerer's Apprentice and even Tchaikovsky's Chinese Dance from the Nutcracker Suite! And the band's own take on Hello Susie (already covered by Amen Corner) was a brutal beast indeed, and a great, gutsy choice for album opener. The whole of the album's second side comprised covers - and what a strange but wonderful selection! - from the extended Fields Of People (an obscure Ars Nova number, given a raga-like workout) to a blistering rock treatment of Don't Make My Baby Blue (made famous years earlier by Frankie Laine) and, finest of all, an epic, dramatic journey through Tom Paxton's The Last Thing On My Mind.

Package, notes and presentation of this reissue are first-class, and this reissue is thoroughly recommendable, not least due to its high proportion of previously unreleased material. Lock me in and throw the key away!

David Kidman