I could hardly believe it when this two-fer arrived in the mail. A complete live Move concert from the Fillmore West?? Holy schlamoley, that's like finding a goldmine in your back yard! Not a whole lot of Yank music lovers know of this great band, but those who do are more than aware of what arose from the combo: the Electric Light Orchestra, Jeff Lynne's indelible mark on the Brit and American music scenes. The Move's first LP was pretty much what would've been expected, a good effort but a bit too much like what was around everywhere then, not terribly explorative. The lads were nonetheless quite popular even then and a lot of that is creditable to a wildman stage show. Time went on, and the combo eventually scored nine Top 20 hits in the UK over the six year span of their existence. Thus, word of mouth and radio play kept the outfit alive until the second LP, beginning an exposition of what the gents, especially Roy Wood and later Lynne, were capable of.
That disc, Shazam, suddenly exposed a knowledge not only of a wide variety of rock musics but also classicalism. Cherry Blossom Clinic (named after an insane asylum) completed out a long section of the slab intermixing Beethoven (Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, often popularly known simply as Joy), Paul Dukas (The Sorceror's Apprentice), and Tchaikovsky (Chinese Dance). It was this LP which also demonstrated the ensemble's gifts for extension and improv. Then came Looking On, continuing the modus but a bit more darkly, featuring the outrageously churning Feel Too Good (which Happy Mondays would ape in their version of John Kongos' Tokoloshe Man and which Manfred Mann and crew approximated in their take on Dylan's Get Your Rocks Off).
The Move's bow-out was the curiously Presleyesque Message from the Country, as though 'The King' had suddenly inherited brains and actually emitted some great sardonic work. Not as beloved as their earlier slabs, it was nonetheless an extremely interesting release. Regardless, The Move fell, and heavy rockers and prog-hedz lamented. Luckily, Electric Light Orchestra immediately grew from the ashes, so the eulogy was cut short. A killer band in its prime, a pop mechanism par excellence, ELO nonetheless never came close to The Move's bravado and snarky humors…or even its instrumental excellences, once again sharply defined in Live Fillmore.
Though the recording is a tad wanting, rescued from old non-professionally engineered tapes tenaciously stored by singer Carl Wayne and, thank God, mid-wifed to the public by his widow, Sue, what it brings to the light is breath-taking. These guys had their shit down dead cold, and collectors everywhere, of many genres, are going to rejoice that the date emerged at all. Should any doubt The Move were a prime era gig, this intact concert, with 20+ minutes of extra live cuts and a great 11-minute soliloquy interview reminiscence with drummer Bev Bevan (also of ELO) is like old wine in a new bottle mindful of its history.
The many complex melodies and flights of fancy sing out with discipline, humor, and gravity, wallowing in dexterity for the sheer hell of it. I attended more than my fair share of zenith concerts in that era, but I wish to Hades I'd been to this one. Moreover, and this goes to illuminate how much more open concert-goers were, the band was bottom-billed, above which were Little Richard, second-stationed, and Joe Cocker, headliner. Three radically different musics yet all got along very well, respecting one another, nor had the audience an inch of problematicity in accepting the very disparate modes, just digging music for music's sake.
Yeah, sigh!, those were definitely different times, and if you find yourself thirsting for more of this group's work after this CD, get not only the entire catalogue but also the 4-CD box set, Anthology 1966-72, if you can track it down, 'cause there's a ton of alt recordings, unissued tracks, and an entire disc taken live from England's Marquee 1968. I discovered this 2008 treasure a year ago, and if it's possible to wear out CDs, I'm well in my way to doing so…with Live at The Fillmore now helping preserve it from that grim fate.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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