This one almost snuck by me: a new vinyl edition of The Move Live at the Fillmore 1969. Previously released only on CD a couple of years ago, this two-LP set is a bit of wonderment which fans of British Invasion music, early hard rock, psychedelia and -- perhaps most significantly -- the Electric Light Orchestra should take note of.
Yup yup. ELO. Stick with me.
Part of the reason I'm writing this review is to remind people that before ELO there was this amazing band called the Move which ultimately morphed into the Electric Light Orchestra. As a group, the Move was pretty huge and influential in its native England but never quite broke out here in the United States. If you are a fan of Cheap Trick and like their song "California Man," do understand that song was originally done by the Move. If you liked the ELO hit "Do Ya," well then understand also that song was originally recorded and performed by the Move.
Probably as much a victim of their own creativity and relative lack of marketing focus -- in their early days, the Move did lots of covers as well as choice originals -- the band rode a remarkable wave of rapidly changing musical trends in its brief existence. Beginning around 1967, their first recordings were mostly driving Summer of Love-inspired pop rock with a decidedly British flair. The Move were mostly known as a singles band with a great live act that apparently even challenged the Who at times in its sheer stage bravado.
By 1969 mainstream rock music was getting decidedly heavier and so the Move transmogrified into a proto-heavy metal power-trio type band à la Led Zeppelin, Cream, The Who and others. On their new album that year -- called Shazam -- they offered up some new originals, a madly wonderful remake of one of their earlier hits and wildly expansive arrangements of songs from the pop and folk world written by the likes of Barry Mann & Cynthia Weill and even Tom Paxton!
Preparing for their only US tour that year, they expanded their heavier offering with long jams on tunes by Goffin & King ("Goin' Back," which the Byrds had been doing around that period) and even two by Todd Rundgren's original band the Nazz (note: Rundgren recorded the Move's "Do Ya" several years later!)
It is this incarnation of the Move that we get to hear on a sweet surprise vinyl release of The Move Live at The Fillmore 1969. After this tour, lead singer Carl Wayne would exit the band and Jeff Lynne would join the group for two albums as he and Move co-founder Roy Wood simultaneously plotted the introduction of ELO to the music world. But that is an entirely separate story ...
This live-from-the-soundboard type performance had been preserved by Wayne, who was working on the restoration when he passed away in 2004. It was his wife who saw the project through to ensure its eventual release in 2011. When the CD came out, it was a Godsend (if you will) for fans of the Move.
The music, performances and sound quality -- especially given the time frame and circumstances surrounding its existence -- is simply stunning. On this live recording, the Move perform the music from their then-just-released studio album Shazam. With the performances fine-tuned through a series of shows across the country, the live versions sound as good as or better than the studio recordings.
If you know Shazam and how complex it is, that makes The Move Live at The Fillmore 1969 all the more compelling.