Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Best of the Move

The Best of the Move (1974) *****

Another bit of recycling.  This compilation that I've enjoyed for years really doesn't inspire any new thoughts.  Curiously, this still doesn't have an AMG review, despite being easily the finest collection of Movemusic collected on a single disc!

Originally a double vinyl package now handily fit on one CD, the first disc consists of the Move's 1968 debut (never released in America), and the second of concurrent singles, A's & B's. The Move's '60s singles range from the really good to the flat-out brilliant; most of these were substantial British hits -- in the liner notes, drummer Bev Bevan notes that the Move had a string of #2 hits, but only one #1, "Blackberry Way," (their somber rejoinder to the Beatles' "Penny Lane,") because in a publicity coup, the Move threatened to break up if their next single didn't reach #1. It probably would've reached #1, anyway; one can envision a brigade of British schoolboys strolling, arms in stride, singing in unison, "Goodbye, Blackberry Way," at the end of a school semester. Their first single, 1967's "Night of Fear," contains the cleverest rip-off of the "1812 Overture," in pop music; which, as far as I'm aware, is the only example of Tchaikovsky-rock. Roy Wood penned equally impressive B-sides, as "Night of Fear"'s flip, "Disturbance," proves -- a hard rock ode to madness that ends with the screams of producer Tony Secunda pretending to go insane. "Wave the Flag and Stop the Train," is, as Bevan admits in the liner notes, a deliberate Monkees imitation (really! - the guitar line apes "Last Train To Clarksville), but "I Can Hear the Grass Grow," is the band's psychedelic peak, a monster of a single that pounds the repetitive title chant to bizarre, mantralike effect, riding the current of the Move's powerful, thumping rhythm section. The Move's most sonically key signature is the way they manipulate the mix so that the bass steps out into the forefront, creating a powerfully heavy, lumbering roar of a bottom that's balanced by Wood's high-pitched harmonies and song melodies on top. Two ballads written by Carl Wayne's associate Dave Morgan, "Something," and "This Time Tomorrow," are fine, though too cabaret in sensibility to really suit the heavy pop stylings of the Move. "Curly," possesses one of those insinuatingly catchy English folk-pop melodies that would have fit fine on Roy Wood's first solo album, and though the band denies it, it really does sound like it's an ode to Carl Wayne's pet pig. "Wild Tiger Woman," became one of the band's first real flops as a single (it charted, but not in the Top Ten); it's good, but is really a bit too hard-rocking and bombastic for pop single material. As Bevan points out, they realized in retrospect that they should have released the B-side, "Omnibus," as the A-side; it's clearly superior, with all the elements of a classic pop smash, even if (or because?) it's a blatant Hollies imitation. Fans of '60s Brit-pop should definitely check this collection out; the Move were a great singles band, and most of their best are contained here.

It also contains their signature hard-rock lumber, "Brontosaurus," but I'll get to that in my Looking On review!

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