Move's only Number 1 hit, 'Blackberry
Way' was late '60s pop at its magnificent, melodramatic best.
Melancholy, too, thanks to a moody Mellotron, together with harpsichord
embellishments played by Richard Tandy. In the build up to
its release, in December 1968, the fan club newsletter described
it as, "the most fantastic song Roy has written to date".
For once, this was no mere hyperbole.
little remarked upon at the time, 'Blackberry Way' is also notable
for marking the start of a new creative relationship, one that
would have dire consequences for the band's long-term future.
As the key creatives in their respective combos, fellow Brummies
Roy Wood and Idle Race frontman Jeff Lynne had
been following each other's fortunes since 1967. During a drinking
session in Lynne's local pub one night, Wood had been discussing
his latest composition. Suitably intrigued, and with Jeff one
of the few Birmingham musicians that had a B&O sound-on-sound
tape recorder, the pair ended up recording the demo for 'Blackberry
Way' in Lynne's home studio in the front room of his parents house
in Shard End. Cushions were pressed around Roy's head by Lynne
and fellow-Idle Racer Roger Spencer to try and kept the
sound down and not wake Jeff's mum and dad asleep upstairs. Roy
could barely finish the song for laughing.
When Trevor Burton decided he'd had enough of pop's fast
lane during February '69, his departure was the perfect cue for
Wood to ask Jeff Lynne to join The Move. But still basking in
the critical acclaim of the debut Idle Race
LP and with a strong belief he would make it with the group, Lynne
- for the time being at least - chose to remain master of his
had been frustrated by his inability to steer The Move closer
to the emerging heavy rock sound, typified by Vanilla Fudge
in the States and Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath
at home. His replacement, Rick Price, had no such qualms.
He'd been plucked from a Birmingham-based cabaret band called
Sight And Sound and within weeks of Burton leaving, The
Move - just off the back of the most talked about single of the
year - also found themselves on the cabaret circuit.
Tony Secunda finally dismissed as manager, their concert
agent Don Arden took over as temporary manager - which
alarmed the whole band. Carl Wayne, as ever, took the
initiative and offered The Move to the biggest management
company in the business at the time - Peter Walsh of
Starlite Entertainments (which looked after several
big names including Fleetwood Mac and The Tremeloes)
- to steer them away from Arden and to maximise their income
on the lucrative cabaret circuit. "We
were doing songs like 'Walk Right Back' and 'Ave Maria' for
the supper-club crowd," remembers Bev Bevan.
If only for their sanity, The Move were still playing "proper"
gigs in addition to their cabaret commitments and outraging
audiences in continental Europe.
and able to sing anything demanded of him, Carl took to cabaret
far better than Roy and Bev, though the two musicians tolerated
it because they were away from Arden and earning serious money
to go towards each of their forthcoming marriages. The Move's
venture into cabaret was such a huge draw at the time that each
residency had to be extended due to demand, with members of The
Move's loyal fan club travelling to each venue en-masse.
split in the group's musical personality was exaggerated further
when, in October 1969, two years after the idea was first
mooted, The Move finally made it to the States. "It
wasn't always great," admitted Carl Wayne.
"Roy's a great guitarist but
he wasn't Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page. And we were trying to
break America by stretching the songs into 20-minute epics."
It was difficult, not least because their American record company,
A&M, had done virtually nothing to promote The Move
prior to their arrival. Despite that, the West Coast gigs they
played were incredible heavy rock extravaganzas that certainly
impressed audiences at the Fillmore West in San Francisco,
the Grandee Ballroom in Detroit and the Whisky a Go
Go in LA. The shows comprised most of the material that ended
up on Shazam.
their return, The Move returned to Advision Studios
to finish their second album. Just as the band were split
down the middle, both musically and on a personal level, 'Shazam'
(a title that had been knocking around since the spring) was
to be a record of two halves. One side would comprise Roy
Wood originals, the other, largely at Carl's suggestion as
Roy hadn't written enough songs, would feature cover versions.
That was a far cry from the initial announcement in mid-'68
which indicated 'Shazam' would be a double set comprised of
Roy's songs plus covers and new material written by Morgan
the time of recording Shazam-proper around mid-1969, no Penny
Music songs were being considered for the album, which suggests
Roy's growing influence in the band (at loggerheads with Carl's
natural leadership) and his refusal to record anything but his
songs. With an album long-overdue, The Move's publisher and band
members started suggesting songs to cover
extract taken from 'Shazam' sleeve notes by Mark Paytress
CREDITS (from top):
MOVE Bev, Carl Roy & Rick 1969
photo © The Move
THE MOVE Trevor,
Roy, Bev & Carl
1968 photo © The Move
THE MOVE Cabaret
Portrait 1969 photo © Alan Johnson
CARL WAYNE recording
Shazam outside Advision Sound Studios 1969 photo
© Alan Johnson
THE MOVE recording
Shazam at Advision Sound Studios 1969 photo
© Alan Johnson