Book Reviews

Roy Wood – On Track: Book Review

The On Track bookshelf from Sonicbond takes the work of The Move,Wizzard and ELO as its next venture. James R Turner confesses to raiding his parent’s record collection as he goes in deep with Roy Wood

on track roy wood

Yes, we do wish it could be Christmas every day. Yet, even considering the Wizzard mega-hit and the likes of See My Baby Jive and Angel Fingers that regularly graced Top Of the Pops back in the day, as Alan Partridge would say, “Der’s more to Roy Wood, dan ‘dis.” A lot more.

One of the finest songwriters the UK has produced” and the “master of the three-minute pop song.” Just a couple of accolades bestowed on the bearded one by self-confessed uber-fan James R Turner who finds Wood’s career much more in tune with him that the music of his own generation. Parents have a lot to answer from and James has obviously been well brought up.

Consider the evidence for his claims, starting with The Move who appeared back in ’67… the first four singles hitting the top 5 yet strangely, by comparison, a lack of success of their albums, while the band proved a hard-working live act.

It’s a common thread through their career. Balancing themselves between hit parader chasers, an album band or an electric live act. Were they a progressive psychedelic R’n’B outfit who dabbled with glam and folkier elements? Or as their live work (and recordings) testify, a power outfit heavily influenced by Hendrix and Cream. What becomes clear is that The Move was a none stop shop for the soundtrack of the swinging Sixties. Finding a niche? They just seemed to be omnipresent.

Certainly, with The Move, the outcome is the same in that On Track usually has me chasing up The Move catalogue. This time flitting between the excellent Cherry Red / Esoteric reissues and Spotify.

Of course, there’s the emergence of Jeff Lynne and James adds a little Appendix to acknowledge his work in The Idle Race as well as Kenny Everett’s quote that the Woodless outfir were “second only to The Beatles” despite their lack of chart success. James acknowledges the potency of a Wood/Lynne led Move as he waxes lyrical about his favourite The Move album, Looking On. Not only a polished effort but a much heavier one too.

By now I’m a fifth of the book in. Still to come is The Electric Light Orchestra and Wood’s band and solo ventures – surely he WAS Wizzard? And of course, the songs that go with the territory. Angel Fingers, Ball Park Incident, See My Baby Jive that all had me glued to Top Of The Pops. And if it sounds like a similar story to The Move, see for yourself and discover it is. The singles that we all know are a gateway to albums that contain a (probably) undiscovered plethora of songs. It’s all here for you to discover.

There may have been no new music since 1985, but performing live and leaving the legacy examined here is genuinely sufficient. For most, what you know about Roy Wood is just the tip of the iceberg. Take a journey of discovery with James.

With the benefit of hindsight, looking back at the fertile period of the late Sixties in the Midlands music scene, it’s remarkable what emerged from that industrial environment. And with Jeff Lynne’s almost godlike status (everybody from Dylan to Petty to Harrison although mainly through the ELO brand knows Jeff Lynne) that sees him playing Wembley Stadium to this day, it’s strange how things turn out.

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