11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful, progressive thunder from the Black Country,
This review is from: Looking on (remastered) (Audio CD)
Four hairy, bearded Brummies walk into a studio in 1970, wearing shades (probably).
Bev Bevan (drums & percussion), Rick Price (Bass), Jeff Lynne (piano, guitar, etc.) and Roy Wood (any and every instrument he had at his disposal).
I remember buying this album on vinyl back in the early 1970s. The two singles ('Brontosaurus' and 'Alice') were the heaviest and loudest the Move ever released. I loved the way Roy Wood gave the vocals everything - this before the days vocalists experimented with megaphones. He continued to adopt this style of delivery later on with Until Your Momma's Gone and Wizzard's debut 45, 'Ball Park Incident' amongst other classic Wood compositions.
On first listening, 'Looking On' left me dazed. The only hint that these hit single-makers may head in a darker direction was the blistering 'Hello Suzie' - the opening track on the previous 'Shazam' album.
The opening title track (very Sabbath) and the closing 'Feel Too Good' are epic monsters - both long multi-instrumental songs dominated with heavy guitar riffs and drums. These, and Bev Bevan's 'Turkish Tram Conductor Blues' - again, vocals by Roy Wood along with the two singles are not the whole story, monumental though they are.
This was the first time Jeff Lynne worked in the studio with The Move after Wood finally persuaded him to replace original front man Carl Wayne.
On subsequent plays, I found that the brace of Lynne songs: 'What?' and 'Open Up, Said The World At The Door' balance the whole album with their experimental effects and Jeff's now-familiar voice. A very definite nod to the future ELO.
The album closes with an unlisted bit of studio fun (a prank to be repeated on the following years 'Message From The Country' - the only Wood/Lynne co-credited song ever - the silliness of 'My Marge'). A much-needed lightness to ease the senses after all the heaviness. Recent sources identify this as 'The Duke Of Edinburgh's Lettuce'.
While I'm on trivia - rumours did suggest PP Arnold contributed backing vocals to `Feel Too Good' - her itinerary at the time of recording matches this possibility. Back then, I believed this is mere speculation, though I loved the image it brought to mind. Recent research for the anniversary edition confirms this is indeed true, our first lady of soul is contributing along with Doris Troy...wow. The stuff of legend.
And more recently, this track can be heard on the soundtrack (CD Vol II) to the film Boogie Nights.
So, although the heaviest album either Wood or Lynne ever recorded, do not be fooled by first impressions. This session uses many, many instruments not usually associated with rock'n'roll. But never over-used: there's no wall of sound here. It's raw and nasty, melodic, twangy and inaccessible (at first) - in some places there are soundscapes so trippy you'll wish they would never end. After all this was originally a seven-track prog-rock session. Seven long tracks.
This CD reissue includes singles and b-sides belonging more to the `Shazam' era (but there was probably no room for any more bonus tracks on that CD) - but when these four boys checked into the studio to record this album no one ever saw The Move as flowery sixties popsters again.
Thirty-five years on I'm still playing it and never tired of listening to it from the opening drums of the title to the closing barrelhouse of The Duke's Lettuce...ah, nostalgia. Love it you guys.