Written by 4:55 am Audiophile Music

The Move in Mono

Mark Smotroff hears the grass grow greener in Mono…

I’ll be fanboy-honest, folks.  I’m thrilled that the first eponymously-titled album by Birmingham, England’s legendary rock band The Move has finally been reissued with its original cover art intact and in its original Monaural mix. 

AR-FirstMoveCover225.jpgFor those not in the know, The Move is the band that morphed into ELO (who are on tour again for the first time in 30 plus years, which is probably why reissues like this are suddenly appearing). 

This first Move recording has been something of a holy grail for many fans around the world.  Actually, let me be more specific about that statement: it is an album that has been something of a holy grail for Move fans around the world. 

There is a difference… 

These recordings have been reissued and re-reissued on a multitude of formats and compilations over the years. Yet, the physical complete original album has been out of print for ages and is highly desired among fans of the band and collectors in general for numerous reasons. 

Of course, some longtime Move fans reading this may be asking themselves : Do I really need another version of this raw, primitive material which I own already, strewn across various and sundry compilations and several CD reissues?

Well… Yes! Here’s why: 

First off, this reissue really sounds really quite good given the tracks were recorded nearly 50 years ago around the time of the Summer of Love. Most of the recordings from this album that I’ve heard always sounded over-saturated, like the recording levels had peaked into the red zone somwhere along the production food chain. Bits of distortion appear in virtually every version I’ve ever heard — a sonic fuzz — be it on US LP, CD or now the LP reissue.  

This version sounds cleaner than any version I’ve heard thus far (on vinyl or CD!). There are crisper highs, fuller/rounder bass and midranges. There is less of that fuzzy distortion (leading me to believe that some of the albums I’ve heard were made off of multi-generation, older and/or poorly prepared tapes as opposed to an conscious production choice).

Now, you may be wondering — after all these years being a big near-lifetime fan of The Move and all that — why didn’t I just go out and buy an original pressing on eBay or Discogs.com?  

AR-FirstMovePlaying225.jpgThis is a very good question and there is a very simple answer:  I would if I could have…  if I wanted to spend upwards of $100 or more! Original pressings on the Regal Zonophone label are pretty rare to find even in England apparently. The Move were pretty much a singles band back in the day and while many original 45s are abundant at reasonable prices on the used market, original UK albums by the band are not so common. 

And forget about finding original UK pressings in the US. Despite their popularity in the UK, The Move were one of the British Invasion bands that never quite got the chance to invade the US like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones did. 

Thus you hardly ever see UK pressings of their albums in the used shops and if you do it is typically a very pricey item put up on display behind the counter; and I’m not one of those collectors who will (or can, frankly) gleefully plop down hundreds of dollars for every rare record he wants — I really can’t justify that financially and, thankfully, I prefer the treasure hunt of trying to find original pressings while “crate digging” in the wilds at a more reasonable price. 

What you will find more commonly out in the used shops and online are a multitude of oddball repackaging of tracks from the first Move album, often bundled with an assortment of hit singles they put out through the late 60s. These albums typically come in poorly designed — often downright cheesy — low budget covers bearing inventive titles such as Greatest Hits! on labels such as MFP, Cube and Fly Records. These UK-made collections may look dubious yet generally sound half decent…  but you aren’ t getting the full experience, the full playlist, if you will.   

AR-MusicOnVinylLabel225.jpgThere is a a common and comprehensive domestic US two-LP set which A&M Records put out in the mid-70s just as The Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) was ascending to superstar status. It too is very cleverly titled:  The Best of the Move. On one hand, it is a good collection in that you get the whole first album in its original running order. Where it falls down is in its hodgepodge-y mix of Mono and Stereo versions of the songs (and some in lesser fidelity — it does sound a bit thin in some places). 

Anyhow, you probably want to know how the new reissue sounds, already! 

Well, to begin with, it sounds like the early recordings by The Move are supposed to sound. I’m not being snarky here. These are great early British Invasion-era pop records designed for AM radio play, so they never were super dynamic recordings to begin with. They have a tight, compact, rough ‘n tumble proto-psychedelic rock sound that is very much of the period. 

Its hard to genuinely compare the entire album to other versions of this music I have on vinyl since — as I explained earlier — most are a mixed bag of Mono and Stereo recordings.

I can say this: in general the tracks on this Mono version of The Move sound better than corresponding tracks on the compilations I’ve heard to date (including Best of the Move on A&M and Flyback: The Best of the Move on Fly Records and The Move Starring Roy Wood on Brunswick). This LP sounds better than the 2007 CD reissue of The Move (which was released with the approval of the band on Salvo Records).  

]]>Bev Bevan’s drumming on tracks like “Kilroy Was Here” sounds pretty big for a 1967 era pop recording.  Ace Kefford’s bass is bolder and louder in the mix than the stereo versions I’ve heard. I compared versions of “Hey Grandma” to an early 70s German Move compilation on the Brunswick label (The Move Starring Roy Wood) and the new Music on Vinyl version made it pale in comparison. That same song on the US “Best of the Move” compilation admittedly sounded pretty great when I turned up the volume a bit, but the Music On Vinyl version was plenty loud and sounded richer even at a lower volume, with more distinct mid range things happening — acoustic guitars and piano popping out of the speakers more readily.  

AR-MoveBandPic225.jpgOn “Mist On A Monday Morning” now you can really make out the different classical instrument parts arranger Tony Visconti layered up there — Cellos, Violin (and perhaps a Viola!) plus a Recorder and Harpsichord. The version of “Firebrigade” here is the best I’ve heard to-date — now you can really hear Bev Bevan’s kick drum kick and the tambourine rings clear as a bell.  Once again, Ace Kefford’s bass is more prominent in the mix too (and I just love writing out the name Ace Kefford, truth be told — what a great rock ‘n roll name!). 

For fans of The Move, this reissue is kind of a no brainer, especially for those of us who have have not been able to get our hands on an original Regal Zonophone pressing. Now you can get the full album in Mono with that super groovy original cover art — created by psychedelic pop artist collective “The Fool” — pressed on nice quiet, modern, probably 180-gram black vinyl.  They even reproduce the look and feel of the maroon and silver Regal Zonophone label, albeit with the later Fly Records logo in lieu of the Regal lettering — it is near period-accurate.

So, even if you are a fan like me who already has a multitude of mish-moshed Move compilations you are more or less are satisfied with, this one is closer to being definitive. For the odd $20 it will cost you to get this release, you really can’t go wrong. 

One additional positive consideration for collectors of original pressings: with this reissue out, perhaps the resale value of the original pressings will drop to a more realistic level.  I sure hope so. I still really would love to have an original copy on Regal Zonophone with the folded-seams back cover design and such.  Until then, I’ll be very happy with this reissue in all its sunshiny, psychedelic bubble-gummy, raw rock ‘n roll glory. 

And… a final thought:  given my satisfaction with this Music On Vinyl reissue, I’m now going to go ahead and order their reissue of my favorite Move album, Shazam

Can’t wait to review that one!

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