Monday, March 27, 2006

Songs From The Wood And Beyond 1973-2003 (Carl Wayne)(2006)

Without a doubt, one of the best interpreters of Roy Wood's songs was his fellow Move mate, vocalist Carl Wayne. A posthumous album by Carl, Songs From The Wood And Beyond 1973-2003 has been released this month and can be purchased from these online retailers. The performances are superb. The whole production has been supervised by Roy Wood.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Main Street (recorded 1976 - released 2000)

You can ooh and ahh about Boulders, wax rhapsodic about Mustard, but this album is far and above the best album ever recorded by Roy Wood. Yes, on this album, Roy really did want to get away from teenage rock and roll and start playing for grownups. The album is actually credited to Roy Wood and Wizzard and was originally titled Wizzo. A mature and timeless recording, Roy and his cohorts had abandoned the silly elements, fifties pop kitsch and over the top sonic embellishments in favor of a more adult approach to pop that combined elements of the more introspective arrangements of Sunflower/Surf's Up era of the Beach Boys, progressive jazz fusion and cool laid back R&B exemplified by Steely Dan. When the single from the yet to be released album, Indiana Rainbow, tanked, the powers that be decided to withhold the release of the album on the grounds it wasn't commercial enough, i.e. they couldn't figure out how to sell this album to fourteen year olds or young housewives. Twenty-five years later, this album finally snuck out on the Edsel label, with new cover art by Roy Wood and the album renamed for the opening track, Main Street.
It's really tough finding a fresh copy of Main Street, since Edsel pressed only a few thousand copies then deleted this title. It's just as well. Perhaps someday in the future this album may find a broader audience via digital downloads via the internet. Until then, best to find a copy on ebay or's zshops .
The title cut is certainly the most haunting cut, especially if you're hung up on Carl Wilson and the Beach Boys. This isn't a surfing or car song dudes, we're talking mature era Beach Boys in the ilk of such cuts as 'Til I Die, Add Some Music To Your Day, Sail On Sailor, Surf's Up and Cabinessence. My own humble opinion is that this track should have been released as the single instead of Indiana Rainbow. While the latter did have the makings for an ambitious chart single with its driving guitar rhythms, autumnal brass polish, brief jazzy flute flourishes and cool Steely Dan sax attacks, the whole thing begging to be admired and ooed and ahhed, Main Street has that sleeper quality that sneaks up on you and stays with you for days, it paints a picture in your mind, makes you stop and take notice and go from this world to somewhere more gorgeous, strange, exotic, flying high above it all, lost in an infinite daydream reverie. This would not have even a been a Top Five from Wood's golden days, more of a lower reaches of Top Twenty because of its own adult ambitions, but no more ambitious than fellow Brum colleague Jeff Lynne's ELO productions of the day, just aimed at a different audience. Saxmaniacs starts out with some fine jazz slide guitar and becomes a mad loopy sax solo behind this charging rhythmic rockin' dance floor epic. Too bad the discos never picked up on this in the day ( it eventually snuck out as a B-side to Roy's solo single (We're) On The Road Again in 1979) but then again it wasn't a disco beat. Nice fade out to horns and slide guitar. Woody really opens on his guitar and wails away with a real dramatic vocals, too, on The Fire In His Guitar. The different guitar jam styles run the gamut from the roaring exploratory leanings his Move days from Shazam to the finer jazz pickins' from the early Wizzard B-sides. It's a pity he doesn't exhibit this side of his many talents more often. There's a Django Rheinhardt homage or novelty with French Perfume that could have been a possible single if cooler heads prevailed and this album wasn't initially shelved. Something closer to what eventually came to be the Wizzo style is Don't You Feel Better, a funky horn number with long time percussionist Charlie Grima on lead vocals. It's kinda sweaty and smelly and rough and ready and makes your butt move. The album closes with another Wizzo-type number, I Should Have Known, check out the sitar on this track. Another funky prog jazz workout that doesn't wear out its welcome.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Wizzard Brew (release 1973)

Wizzard's jaw dropping debut album is an almost indescribable and indecipherable tour de force, a jarring sonic wall of loud heavy careening rock and roll, rhythm and blues, English music hall, be bop and Dixieland jazz, mish mashed and ove- modulated and compressed and served steaming hot, this is not the Wizzard of slick wondrous Spectorish out of the ballpark TopTen hit singles but a living snarling dangerous frenetic energetic animal, uncaged and running gamut over the musical landscape. It is one of those albums, you either love it or hate it, there is no gray area or thin line to tread. It also is one of those albums that you may hate initially but upon repeated listenings, especially if you are inclined to be an adventurous listener, that grows on you and reveals its secrets, unpeels it many sonic layers, a loud boisterous rock and roll onion as it were, eventually winning you over. If you followed Roy Wood's creative path chronologically, you can see how he was building towards something like this, the galumphing heavy porridge of Looking On, the humourous rock'n'roll pastiches and eclectic classical pop hybrids from Message From The Country and Electric Light Orchestra and the across the board McCartneyisms of Boulders. After the initial uninhibited experimentation he exhibited on the first ELO album, Roy took Wizzard on this album, rolled the dice and went for broke.
  1. You Can Dance Your Rock And Roll - A hot rhythmic opener, a declaration of things to come, the whole band shines on this track. Rock and roll cello riffs, fantastic guitar lead and a hot sweaty closing sax solo and I can't believe they threw in a few bars backwards drumming and made it work! Also not as claustrophobic sounding as the other tracks on this album, you can almost feel the space.
  2. Meet Me At The Jaihouse - The first track on this album that makes you go, "What the fuck?", this piece careens between thick heavy sludgy ponderous rock riffs, be bop sax solo riffs, a cello versus saxophone showdown and an extended Hendrix worthy guitar workout. There are deliberate cliche motifs sprinkled here and there for the art rock cognoscenti to sniff on, humourous almost nonsensical lyrics about getting by during hard times, more sax solos, and you're thinking, "My God! Does it ever end?", then you're caught off guard when it does end.
  3. Jolly Cup Of Tea - A Brit style WWI-era marching band number played straight, if such a thing can be played straight.
  4. Buffalo Station - Get On Down (To Memphis) - The first part of this track you've got Chuck Berryish lyrics set to a theme sounding suspiciusly like Heroes And Villains. There's a lot of horns, saxes and cellos climbing over each other down this frenetic roller coaster ride as Roy Wood shouts out the song with an ADT-treated vocal that seems slightly out of phase. Then as the song builds to a crescendo, it leads into an over modulated blues shouter that keeps reverting to a Nawlins style jazz combo, then out of nowhere, it's the Ghost Of Elvis Presley moaning over an upright echoplexed piano and hell, he wasn't even dead yet when this side was cut!
  5. Gotta' Crush ('Bout You!) - You make out the lyrics, I throw my hands in the air, this is an insane horn driven R&B number that flies around the walls of your sitting room at eighty milesan hour , knocking books from the shelves, chucking eggs at your party guests, TP-ing the rest of the house and blowing rasberries at your gramma'. Just shurrup, learn to laugh and dance with one leg tied behind your back!
  6. Wear A Fast Gun - This number could just as easily found a place on Boulders or Electric Light Orchestra, one of Roy's pretty yet odd ballads and oh so precious arrangements, just enough pop classicism and weird spooky touches to haunt you for hours.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Introducing Eddie & Falcons (release 1974)

introducing eddie & falcons
Is it a nod and wink pastiche, a half baked potpourri, a snogging tribute or woody's first comedy album?
  1. Intro/Eddy's Rock- Eddie Cochrane/"Raunchy"- like instrumental, a little too sterile, no balls, probably came off better live in concert, ya think?
  2. Brand New 88 - was it a rip off or parody of The Move's "California Man"? A little more life and this could have swung, man!
  3. You Got Me Runnin'- never was a fan of those twee teen idols between Army Elvis and the Beatles, it's a clever knock off but again, no balls, too sterile
  4. I Dun Lotsa Cryin Over You - very Elvis Presley & The Jordainaires, actually it's a shame Elvis never recorded or performed this number himself, lotsa love in this performance, nothing sterile here.
  5. This Is The Story Of My Love (baby) - phil spectorish, lush, great percussion and horns and multi layer vocals, great humour, actually close to "Angel Fingers", being more in Wizzard of chart fame, the unconvential choice of instrument (oboes) for solo, the long extended solos at end of song
  6. Everyday I Wonder - Del Shannon rewrite - was this Jeff Lynne's fave album track? excellent middle bit with the funky clavinet - bassoon and oboes again and then, more clavinet - actually an excellent Wizzard album track, perhaps one of Wizzard's best LP tracks, could have been right at home on Message From The Country - nice ending with mellotron, right?
  7. Crazy Jeans - is Bob Brady singing? Stray Cats or Reverend Horton Heat could have fun with this, nice rockabilly number, real funny, too, all guitar, bass & drums
  8. Come Back Karen - Oy. Neil Sedaka land folks. Is it ear-delicious? personally one of the only cringe tracks on album. You can tell how much Roy got into each and every track on this album, even the tracks you might personally reckon to be a clunker. Nothing was a throwaway to this man. It sounds like a throwaway but listen again and you can hear the care and love.
  9. We're Gonna Rock'n'Roll Tonight - Nice and gritty and messy, ah the Wizzrd we really know and love! Bob Brady and Roy get in one their fantastic vocal tradeoffs with a real Wizzard sounding track that would sound at home on Wizzard's Brew. Perhaps this was how Mongrel sounded before Woody poached their members. If the original idea of including a nightclub jazz set for the album was allowed, you would still have to end the album with this number. Wizzard could trad jazz and bebop unlike many rock outfits of the day but they could really rock and really roll over teeny bopper and prog rock bands into the ground. They could swing, man, they had groove. Ah, well a couple of years later, Wizzard was for the most part done, "Wizzo" (aka as "Main Street") was recorded and shelved by the Arden machine as being uncommercial (i.e., we don't know how to sell this to fifteen year old kids, young housewives or anybody else with disposable income, so write something that'll make our jobs easier will ya?), which had to be a great kick in the teeth to Woody.

Introducing .... Myself

No, I am not Roy Wood. But I am using this blog to post my feelings, etcetera about Birmingham, UK musician -songwriter Roy Wood's music - mainly his singles, albums, etcetera.