Saturday, 18 June 2016

"Looking On" by THE MOVE (2016 Esoteric Recordings 2CD 'Deluxe Edition' Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Show Us Your Lettuce..." 

As someone who's worked a lifetime in record shops - I can count on one hand the number of times I've actually seen a decent-condition Vinyl copy of The Move's third album "Looking On" from either side of the pond. Its like Procol Harum's "Home" (also from 1970) - sank without a trace on release despite its Hard Rock credentials.

Released as the first LP on Fly Records - famously the home of T. Rex, John Kongos and all those 'Twofer' double-albums for Regal Zonophone artists like Procol Harum, Tyrannosaurus Rex and even John Williams - "Looking On" disappeared after its December 1970 release date and has been all but lost to the mists of time ever since. It was belatedly released on Capitol Records in the USA in the spring of 1971 but did bugger all business their either.

Moving forward and away from the "Blackberry Way" Pop-Rock of the April 1968 debut "The Move" and more in keeping with the Rock progression of the "Shazam" album in February of 1970 - the "Looking On" LP was grittier – a far heavier affair - and essentially a new direction for the band. "Looking On" was a deliberate musical-segue into Hard Rock with some Prog leanings - and I'd argue the LP is a bit of a lost gem.

Which brings us to this superb new reissue. Esoteric Recordings (part of Cherry Red of the UK) have whomped MOVE fans with 2016 reissues of "The Move" and "Shazam" in single and multiple-disc 'Deluxe Edition' issues (see separate reviews and list below). Now we get their 3rd platter "Looking On" in a superbly presented 2CD 'Deluxe Edition' boasting a cache of Previously Unreleased BBC Sessions from the band line up that featured Roy Wood, Jeff Lynne, Rick Price and Bev Bevan (later with ELO). Here are the details...

UK released Friday, 27 May 2016 (3 June 2016 in the USA) - "Looking On" by THE MOVE on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 22547 (Barcode 5013929464742) is a 2CD 'Deluxe Edition' with a 2016 Remaster and plays outs as follows:

Disc 1 (47:48 minutes)
1. Looking on
2. Turkish Tram Conductor Blues
3. What?
4. When Alice Came Back To The Farm
5. Open Up Said The World At The Door [Side 2]
6. Brontosaurus
7. Feel Too Good
Tracks 1 to 7 are their 3rd studio album "Looking On" - released December 1970 in the UK on Fly Records FLY 1 and April 1971 in the USA on Capitol Records ST 658. Produced by ROY WOOD and JEFF LYNNE - it didn't chart in either country.

8. Lightnin' Never Strikes Twice - non-album B-side of "Brontosaurus" released March 1970 in the UK on Regal Zonophone RZ 3026 and in the USA on Deram 1197

Disc 2 (47:06 minutes):
"Looking On" - Outtakes And Rarities
1. The Duke Of Ellington's Lettuce
2. Looking on (Part One - Take 3/Part 2 - Take 12)
3. Brontosaurus (Mono US Radio Promo Edit -
4. Turkish Tram Conductor Blues (Take 5 - Rough Mix)

BBC Sessions - March to July 1970 (All PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED)
5. She's A Woman
6. Bev Bevan Interview
7. Brontosaurus
8. Falling Forever
9. Lightnin' Never Strikes Twice (Tracks 5 to 9 recorded 23 March 1970)

10. Looking On
11. When Alice Comes Back To The Farm
12. She's A Woman (Tracks 10 to 12 recorded 28 July 1970)

ROY WOOD - Oboe, Sitar, Slide Guitar, Cello, Guitar, Bass and All Saxophones
JEFF LYNNE - Guitar, Piano, Vocals Percussion and Drums on "Feel Too Good"
BEV BEVAN - Drums and Percussion
DORIS TROY and P.P. ARNOLD - Backing Vocals on "Feel Too Good"

Each of Esoteric's reissues has come in single disc issues (plain jewel case) or - this - card digipak 'Deluxe Editions'. Here you get a chunky four-flap gatefold card sleeve with a 20-page colour booklet in the right pouch with a foldout two-sided poster in the left pouch and two picture CDs. The double-sided foldout POSTER is fab - a collage of black-and-white press clippings on one side with a full-page colour advert for the album on the opposite. Each flap has MOVE memorabilia (there's even photos beneath the see-through CD trays) and the 20-page booklet has in-depth liner notes from noted writer MARK PAYTRESS (author of many books from the period) with thanks to ROB CAIGER. There are trade adverts, reviews of the album and singles and photos of the hairy men themselves.

But the big news is a 2016 '24-Bit Digital Remaster' from original analogue tapes by the experienced Audio Engineer BEN WISEMAN done at Broadlake Studios in Hertfordshire (Tape Transfers done by ROB KEYLOCH at Church Walk Studios in London). The sound on here is HUGE and not without being overly bombastic for the sake of it. I think the word I'm looking for is 'muscle' - this CD sounds powerful - and as many tracks like "Turkish Tram Conductor Blues" rock out - the benefit is very much 'in your face' and for all the right reasons.

The album's hard-rocking credentials are set in motion with Roy Wood's "Looking On" - a great combo of Move-melody bolstered up some serious riffage - Wood's vocals teasing along with the guitar. The audio on this sucker is huge and I'd say its improved over my 2008 Salvo edition. One of my fave raves on the "Looking On" album is the take-no-prisoners Hard Rock of "Turkish Tram Conductor Blues". Written by Bev Bevan - it’s THE MOVE gone all riffage-mad - the spirit of Leslie West's MOUNTAIN inhabiting both Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne as they hammer down on those heavy guitars. But that's trumped. You can literally feel The Electric Light Orchestra emerging from Jeff Lynne’s "What?" track - gorgeous string arrangements and that strange ELO melody thing that Lynne gets whenever he's at the helm of a song. I love “What?” - both the vocals and guitars treated so that they warble slightly for effect - it's brilliant stuff. Roy Wood ends Side 1 with the slide guitar and ELO cello of a rocker - "When Alice Comes Back To The Farm" - his playing on here is just brilliant and worthy of Juicy Lucy's Glenn Ross-Campbell ("Who Do You Love?"). Fly Records UK tried a 45 in September 1970 featuring Wood's "When Alice Comes Back To The Farm" with Lynne's fab "What?" on the B-side (Fly Records BUG 2) - but no one took interest in this superb double.

Side 2 begins with near eight-minute opus that is Jeff Lynne's "Open Up Said The World At The Door" - an inventive Prog Rock piece that sees Roy Wood use Sitar, Obie and just about any other instrument lying around the studio. The vocal layers are so forthcoming ELO and it even manages some impressive boogie-woogie piano stretches throughout its ambitious duration. Regal Zonophone UK had tried Roy Wood's heavy heavy "Brontosaurus" as a UK 45 as far back as March 1970 (Regal Zonophone RZ 3026) and despite its slightly odd nature was rewarded with a No. 7 chart position. It's non-album B-side "Lightnin' Never Strikes Twice" turns up as a Bonus Track on Disc 1 - and for me was always better than the A-side (sounds awesome too). The album proper ends with Roy Wood's "Feel Too Good" - almost ten minutes of THE MOVE getting Funky-Piano-Rock with a bank of different guitars and the Remaster punching out Rick Price's Bass lines and Bev Bevan's fantastic drumming. Both Apple's Doris Troy and Immediate's P.P. Arnold are credited as providing girly backing vocals but it's hard to hear them with all that's going on. In fact by the time it gets to the "Feel Too Good" vocals and the silly 'show us your lettuce' old geezer talk - the song has probably overstayed its welcome if I'm truthful - but man does the Remaster make it 'rawk'...

For fans Disc 2 represents something worth getting excited about - a bunch of Previously Unreleased BBC Sessions sat alongside three of the rarities that turned up on the December 2008 ‘Salvo’ CD reissue of "Looking On". I just love the Beach Boys Acapella Vocals of "The Duke Of Edinburgh's Lettuce" - the silly Gardener portion of "Feel Too Good" - it only lasts for 1:29 minutes complete with studio dialogue lead in but it's just such great fun. Takes 3 and 12 of "Looking On" were issued as two separate outtakes on the 2008 Salvo CD reissue - here they've been segued into one nine-minute plus version. It sounds great too - much more guitar soloing while the piano tries to get a look in. I've never seen the 'Mono US Radio Promo Edit' of "Brontosaurus" on CD but it's worth having for collectors. Far better is the hard-rocking "Turkish Tram Conductor Blues" - a very cool alternate. "...Here on Top Of The Pops we move back onto the Progressive Rock bit with THE MOVE..." the announcer gets very excited about the new addition to band - ex Idle Race singer Jeff Lynne - as he lays into a great cover of The Beatles "She's A Woman".

The audio is good rather than being great it has to be said - but the power of the band is there for all to hear. We get a short interview with Bev Bevan talking about Carl Wayne's departure and Jeff Lynne's introduction and the new 'heavy' direction of the band. "Falling Forever" comes off so well - very cool vocals and a sort of Byrds feel to the melody. The March 1970 session ends with the B-side "Lightnin' Never Strikes Twice" - a fantastically good re-working of the song but unfortunately with that 'buried back in the mix' sound to the whole recording. The July 1970 session has roughly the same sound and features a three-minute cut of the 'heavy' "Looking On" while the slide of "Alice" is great - Wood tearing it up and clearly listening to too much Juicy Lucy. If anything the BBC stuff only goes to show what an exciting proposition The Move was at that time - alive with new material and an exciting new direction...(the second interview talks of ELO's genesis)...

THE MOVE would manage one more album - 1971's excellent and witty "Message From The Country" which EMI/Harvest Remastered into an Expanded Edition in 2005 (see separate review). They would of course then morph into THE ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA or E.L.O. as they're now more commonly known and The Travelling Wilburys for Jeff Lynne with some of his lifelong musical heroes.

But I'd urge you to go back - way back - back to the days of "Brontosaurus" and his best buddy "Turkish Tram Conductor Blues" - back to a time when 39 schillings and eleven old pence could procure you this tasty platter. THE MOVE had a B-side called "Lightnin' Never Strikes Twice". With this superb reissue I think it has...

PS: UK released 29 April 2016 – THE MOVE CD Editions by Esoteric Recordings are:

1. The Move - 1CD 'Standard Edition' on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 2537 (Barcode 5013929463745)
    The Move - 3CD 'Deluxe Edition' on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 32536 (Barcode 5013929463646)

2. Something Else From The Move (June 1968 EP Expanded) - 1CD 'Standard Edition' on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 2546 (Barcode 5013929464643)

3. Shazam - 1CD 'Standard Edition' on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 2539 (Barcode 5013929463943)
    Shazam - 3CD 'Deluxe Edition' on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 22538 (Barcode 5013929463844)

4. Looking in - 2CD 'Deluxe Edition' on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 22547 (Barcode 5013929464742)

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