Pop/Rock/World CD Reviews
The Move – Live at the Fillmore 1969 [TrackList follows] – Right Records (2 CDs)
Published on June 29, 2014
The Move – Live at the Fillmore 1969 [TrackList follows] – Right Records RIGHT116, (2 CDs) 42:41, 49:08 [2/21/12] ****:
(Carl Wayne – vocals; Roy Wood – guitars, vocals; Bev Bevan – drums, percussion; Rick Price – bass guitar, vocals)
British group the Move was one of the better late-1960’s UK artists who never had more than a toehold in the U.S. rock music marketplace. The band, which issued their initial LP in 1967 and broke up in 1972, combined a Beatles-like pop sensibility with a psychedelic-pop penchant which resulted in cuts such as “Brontosaurus” and “California Man” (both later refashioned by Move admirers Cheap Trick). Throughout the Move’s career, the key participant was Roy Wood, who wrote many of the Move’s tunes and shared vocals with other band members. Another notable person in the Move’s roster was Jeff Lynne (who joined in 1970), who helped shift the Move to artier territory. When Wood and Lynne dissolved the Move, they co-founded the progressive rock act Electric Light Orchestra, or ELO.
The Move only journeyed to the states once, a three-week 1969 stint which fell between their 1968 self-titled debut and 1970 sophomore album, Shazam. The short tour was not officially documented; but singer Carl Wayne held onto soundboard recordings of the Move’s two-night stay (October 17 and 18, 1969) at San Francisco’s Fillmore West. Those analog tapes finally resurfaced, were digitally enhanced, and came out on Right Records in early 2012. Like the Move’s other music, the 2-CD outing, Live at the Fillmore 1969, rode beneath the radar of some music buyers. This is the only complete Move concert in existence, so that’s as good a reason as any other to examine that historic Move stage show, even two years after Live at the Fillmore 1969 came out.
When the Move visited America, the personnel consisted of Wayne; Wood (guitars, vocals); drummer Bev Bevan (who later was in ELO); and Rick Price (bass guitar and vocals). For their Fillmore presentation, the foursome pandered to the Bay Area audience by extending their music with long solos, and generating a heavier sound which emphasized louder guitar. The set list on Live at the Fillmore 1969 probably comes as a surprise to Move aficionados. Only one previous single, “I Can Hear the Grass Grow,” is included. Four gestating songs, which afterwards appeared on Shazam, are offered; the rest comprise two tunes by the Nazz (Todd Rundgren’s 1960s group), one by folk singer Tom Paxton, and tracks associated with other musicians. The first CD (from the Oct. 17, 1969 program) launches with a seven-minute version of the Nazz’s power-pop cut, “Open My Eyes,” with Wood’s hefty riffs leading the way. Bevan’s drums and Price’s amped-out bass shove the rhythm up to the rafters; and Wood supplies a shredding guitar solo reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix. They turn Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil’s “Don’t Make My Baby Blue” (also reworked by the Shadows and Frankie Laine) into a stout rocker. The remainder of the first CD is top notch. The Move showcases two of Wood’s finer compositions and does an intriguing rendition of Paxton’s “The Last Thing on My Mind.” The Move’s intricate harmonics and fluid rhythmic involvement are revealed during complex “Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited,” (later revised for the Shazam record) about a man locked up in a mental institution. The arrangement liberally quotes from classical composers Tchaikovsky and Dukas, a nod to ELO’s future. The band stretches out on Wood’s “I Can Hear the Grass Grow,” a more forceful rendering than the studio version. During this overlong live adaptation, Wood alludes to Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild,” and Bevan has a brief drum solo which demonstrates his rhythmic abilities.
The second CD is a mix of protracted pieces; three Oct. 18 numbers which are alternates to titles from the previous evening; and Bevan’s 11-minute audio recollections. The disc commences with an expanded, 17-minute translation of “Fields of People,” (another song taped for the Shazam LP), originally done by Ars Nova, a New York rock/classical hybrid ensemble. “Fields of People” also is a portent of things to come, with intimations of ELO’s ensuing rock/classical fusion, but with an accent on progressive rock. Wood’s string skills are exhibited via his homemade banjar, a banjo strung like a Turkish sar. In Wood’s hands, his unique instrument has a tone similar to a sitar. During Wood’s ambitious banjar improvisation, Bevan switches to hand percussion, and the two conjure an East Indian ambiance. From there, the Move change direction with a retooling of Carole King and Gerry Goffin’s “Goin’ Back.” The Move’s interpretation is based on one by the Byrds, but jettisons most of the Byrds’ overt country influence. Wood’s straightforward rock stance is displayed on his retro “Hello Susie,” (the fourth song put on Shazam) which hints at the 1950s rock and roll mannerism Wood concentrated on after leaving ELO. The Oct. 17 concert concludes as it began, with more Nazz, an interminable 14-minute transformation of “Under the Ice,” (which momentarily refers to the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” during an expansive instrumental segment). Alternative readings of “Don’t Make My Baby Blue,” “Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited” and “The Last Thing on My Mind” are reprised (all three from Oct. 18). They aren’t much different than those on CD one.
The second disc ends with Bevan’s new anecdotes and sometimes amusing remembrances of the tour and the Fillmore engagements, including a fight at a gas station, a Los Angeles stopover which mentions a Jim Morrison sighting, meeting Little Richard, and Rick Price’s LSD experience. There is also a 12-page accompanying booklet with archival photos, excerpts from Wayne’s tour diary (he passed away before this material was issued), and new liner notes by scribe Archie Patterson, Price and Bevan. A few comments about the audio quality: don’t anticipate flawless sound. The long-lost tapes were comprehensively restored, but there is some evident but not explicit damage, and the mix and balance are not terrific. Vocals are often too loud, and the authoritative drums and bass at times are faded too far in the background. But overall, the good outweighs the bad, and considering the age of the recordings, the fidelity is quite good. Those unfamiliar with the Move may not appreciate this concert document but longtime Move fans will certainly welcome the opportunity to hear Live at the Fillmore 1969.
CD 1: Open My Eyes; Don’t Make My Baby Blue; Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited; The Last Thing on My Mind; I Can Hear the Grass Grow
CD 2: Fields of People; Goin’ Back; Hello Susie; Under the Ice; Introduction; Don’t Make My Baby Blue; Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited; The Last Thing on My Mind; the Move’s 1969 USA tour recalled by Bev Bevan