The Move: Live at the Fillmore 1969

Stellar live recording of the Move at the Fillmore in 1969

The Move are barely known in the U.S., but their impact on the late-60s British rock scene, and all that tumbled from it, reverberates through to today. By the end of their run, they’d evolved an artier sound that would find full-flower as founders Roy Wood and Bev Bevan, and latter-day member Jeff Lynne, decamped to form the Electric Light Orchestra. But in their prime, they were a rock powerhouse that matched up to the Who’s incendiary music and daring social antics. The group is captured in full-flower of their most famous incarnation on these soundboard tapes, recorded at San Francisco’s Fillmore West in October 1969 on their first and only tour of the U.S. These tapes have floated around bootleg circles, but this is the first complete and official release, endorsed by Sue Wayne, the widow of the band’s vocalist, Carl Wayne.

Wayne had saved the tapes for over thirty years, but it was only in 2003 that digital restoration became sufficiently sophisticated to bring this archive back to life. Sadly, with Wayne’s passing in 2004, the project was once again sidelined. Now fully restored, the song list, plus a ten-minute interview with drummer Bevan, clock in at nearly two hours. The selections include their early single “I Can Hear the Grass Grow,” and fan favorites “Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited” and “Hello Susie.” Also included are covers of Nazz’s “Open My Eyes” and “Under the Ice,” Mann & Weil’s “Don’t Make My Baby Blue” (which the Move likely picked up from the Shadows), Tom Paxton’s “The Last Thing on My Mind” and Ars Nova’s “Fields of People.” The set is surprisingly light on Roy Wood songs, given his position as the band’s main songwriter, but bits of stage patter help sew everything together.

The band’s combination of pop and rock – memorable melodies and tight harmonies played against heavy drums and bass – is a perfect fit for the stage, and particularly for the late-60s Fillmore. The band stretches out on long jams, but their focus contrasts with the meandering discovery of San Francisco’s original ballroom rock. Even Bev Bevan’s drum solo and the melodic salutes woven into “I Can Hear the Grass Grow” sound more like performance than on-the-spot experiment. The set is filled with energy from start to finish, and though the vocals are occasionally often mixed forward, the tapes are solid and reasonably balanced. It’s a shame the Move didn’t tour the U.S. again, as they surely would have been major stateside stars. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

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