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.

2 Comments:

Blogger p spector said...

I realize I'm about 3-1/2 years late for this post, but what the hell.

Having been a big Move fan, I bought this album on vinyl when it was first released (Yep, I still have it). I agree with practically everything you write about it (as well as your related posts here), except then, as now, I still find it such a sonic mess. It just seems to me like everything is out of phase. I don't think it boils down to a simple matter of being over-compressed -- in fact maybe a good rinse through a multiband eq-compressor might help. I don't know. I guess somewhere along the line it's been released on CD, although I haven't gone out of my way to find out. If so, and if you've heard it, has the sound improved? Was it remixed and reprocessed from the original tapes? IMO, tremendous nonetheless. I dig it all -- my fave track being Buffalo Station - Get On Down (To Memphis).

My tardy thanks for your posting.

6:42 AM  
Blogger lastangelman said...

You can purchase newly re-mastered compact discs of Wizzard Brew and all Move albums here. They're absolutely startling and reveal fantastic things not heard on the original vinyl, plus there are tons of extras, never before released.

7:18 PM  

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