The Move, from Birmingham, England, were one of the leading British rock bands of the 1960s. They scored nine Top 20 UK singles in five years, but were among the most popular British bands not to find any success in the United States. Although bassist-vocalist Chris "Ace" Kefford was the original leader, for most of their career The Move was led by guitarist, singer and songwriter Roy Wood. He composed all the group's UK singles and, from 1968, also sang lead vocals on many songs, although Carl Wayne was the main lead singer up to 1970. Initially the band had 4 main vocalists (Wayne, Wood, Trevor Burton and Kefford) who split the lead vocals on a number of their earlier songs.
The group evolved from several mid-1960s Birmingham based groups, including Carl Wayne & the Vikings, the Nightriders and the Mayfair Set. The group's name referred to the move various members of these bands made to form the group. Beside Wood, the original five-piece line-up of The Move in 1965 was drummer Bev Bevan, bassist Kefford, vocalist Carl Wayne and guitarist Trevor Burton. The final line-up of 1972 was the trio of Wood, Bevan and Jeff Lynne, who transitioned the group into the Electric Light Orchestra. Since 2007, Burton and Bevan have been performing as 'The Move featuring Bev Bevan and Trevor Burton'.
Formation and early career
The Move were formed in December 1965 and played their first shows in early 1966. The original intentions of Burton, Kefford, and Wood, were to start a group from among Birmingham's best musicians, along similar lines to The Who. The three played together at jam sessions at Birmingham's Cedar Club, and invited Wayne and Bevan to join their new group. After a debut at the Bell Hotel in Stourbridge and further bookings around the Birmingham area, Moody Blues manager Tony Secunda offered to manage them. At the time, the Move mainly played covers of American west coast groups such as The Byrds together with Motown and rock 'n' roll songs. Although Carl Wayne handled most of the lead vocals, all the band members shared harmonies and each were allowed at least one lead vocal per show (and often traded lead vocals within specific songs).
Secunda got them a weekly residency at London's Marquee Club in 1966, where they appeared dressed in gangster regalia. Their early career was marked by a series of publicity stunts, high-profile media events and outrageous stage antics masterminded by Secunda; these included Wayne taking an axe to television sets, Cadillacs, busts of Adolf Hitler and Rhodesian leader Ian Smith. Eventually, Secunda also managed to persuade Wood to begin writing songs for the band on his time off. They secured a production contract with independent record producer Denny Cordell, but this was turned into a media event by Secunda, who arranged for the band to sign their contracts on the back of Liz Wilson, a topless female model. Wood wrote their first single, "Night of Fear", a No.2 hit in the UK Singles Chart in January 1967, which began The Move's practice of musical quotation (in this case, the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky). Their second single, "I Can Hear the Grass Grow", was another major hit, reaching No.5 in the UK.
In April 1967, NME reported that The Move had offered a £200 reward for the recovery of the master tapes of ten songs intended for their debut album. The tapes were stolen from their agent's car when it was parked in Denmark Street, London. Their third single "Flowers in the Rain" was the first chart single played on BBC Radio 1 when it began broadcasting at 7am on 30 September 1967, introduced by Tony Blackburn. However it was not, as is generally claimed, the first record played on air that day—in fact Radio 1 opened with George Martin's specially commissioned "Theme One", followed by the theme of Blackburn's Daily Disc Delivery show ("Beefeaters" by Johnny Dankworth). The single, which reached No.2 in the UK, was less guitar-oriented than their previous two singles, and featured a woodwind and string arrangement by Cordell's assistant Tony Visconti. The track was released on the relaunched Regal Zonophone label.
The promotional campaign for "Flowers in the Rain" led to litigation that had serious repercussions for Wood and the group. Without consulting the band, Secunda produced a cartoon postcard showing the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Harold Wilson, in bed with his secretary, Marcia Williams. Wilson sued The Move for libel and the group lost the court case—they had to pay all costs, and all royalties earned by the song, which otherwise would have belonged to Wood as composer, were awarded to charities of Wilson's choice. The ruling, much to Wood's chagrin, remained in force even after Wilson's death in 1995. For their fourth single, the group had planned to release "Cherry Blossom Clinic", a lighthearted song about the fantasies of a patient in a mental institution, backed by the satirical "Vote For Me".
However, The Move had been unnerved by their court experiences; they and the record label felt it unwise to pursue such a potentially controversial idea, so the single was shelved. "Vote For Me" remained unreleased until it began to appear on retrospective collections from 1997 onwards while "Cherry Blossom Clinic" became one of the tracks on their first LP, also called The Move. As a direct consequence of the lawsuit, The Move fired Secunda and hired Don Arden, who had himself recently been fired as manager of the Small Faces. In a 2000 interview, Wayne noted that there had always been a major split within the group about Secunda's tactics: "[Secunda] had the animals who would do what he wanted to do in Trevor, Ace, and me -- the fiery part of the stage act. I think Roy would obviously qualify this himself, but I believe he was slightly embarrassed by the image and the stunts - but the rest of us weren't ... We were always willing to be Secunda puppets".
In November and December 1967 the group took part in another package tour around the UK, playing two shows a night over sixteen days as part of an all-star bill that included The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Pink Floyd, The Nice, Eire Apparent, The Outer Limits, Amen Corner and the then BBC Radio 1 DJ, Pete Drummond. In March 1968 The Move returned to the charts with "Fire Brigade", another UK Top 3 hit, and the first on which Wood sang lead vocal. But a few weeks later, around the time of the LP's release, Kefford was let go from the band due to increasing personal problems. He formed his own short-lived group, the Ace Kefford Stand, with Cozy Powell on drums. After this, he pursued a solo career and The Move became a four-piece, with Burton and Wayne taking turns on bass. It was also during this line-up transition that the band first invited Lynne, a friend of Wood's, to join. He declined at the time, as he was still working toward success in his current band The Idle Race, another Birmingham based group. The Move were on the bill at the inaugural Isle of Wight Festival on 31 August 1968.
In mid 1968 their fifth single "Wild Tiger Woman", a song acknowledging the group's love of Jimi Hendrix (Wood and Burton sang backing vocals on "You Got Me Floatin'", on The Jimi Hendrix Experience's second album, Axis: Bold as Love), sold poorly and failed to make the UK chart. The Move responded with their most commercial song to date, "Blackberry Way" (co-produced by Jimmy Miller), which topped the UK chart in February 1969. Richard Tandy played keyboards on "Blackberry Way" and joined the band for a time playing keyboards live, switching to bass when Burton was briefly sidelined with a shoulder injury. Upon Burton's recovery, Tandy departed to join The Uglys. This new, more pop-oriented musical direction was the last straw for the increasingly disenchanted Burton, who wanted to work in a more hard rock/blues oriented style, and he left the group after an altercation on stage one evening with Bevan.
At around this time it was rumoured in the music press that Hank Marvin of the recently disbanded Shadows had been invited to join The Move. Some years later Wayne said that this was nothing more than a publicity stunt; however, Marvin himself, in an article in Melody Maker in 1973 and elsewhere, has maintained that he was definitely approached by Wood and invited to join The Move, but declined because The Move's schedule was too hectic for him. Burton was ultimately replaced in 1969 by Rick Price, another veteran of several Birmingham rock groups. Both Kefford and Burton struggled commercially after leaving The Move. Kefford recorded a solo album in 1968 after his departure, but it remained unreleased until 2003 when it appeared as Ace The Face. Burton played bass with yet another Birmingham group, The Steve Gibbons Band, was one-third of the short-lived band Balls (with Denny Laine and Alan White), and later fronted his own blues group as lead guitarist.
In October 1969 the band made their only concert appearances in the US with two opening shows for The Stooges in Detroit and dates in Los Angeles and at the Fillmore West in San Francisco. When neither their US record company nor promoters showed any more interest, the remaining proposed tour dates were cancelled and the group returned home. During this period Arden sold The Move's management contract to impresario Peter Walsh, who was at the time also managing The Marmalade. Walsh, who specialised in cabaret acts, began booking the band into cabaret-style venues, which further increased the tension between Wayne and Wood. 1970's Shazam continued The Move's practice of musical quotation and of elaborately re-arranged versions of other performer's songs. "Hello Susie" (a Wood composition), which was a Top 5 hit for Amen Corner in 1969, quoted Booker T. Jones' and Eddie Floyd's "Big Bird", and the album included a cover of a Tom Paxton song, "The Last Thing on My Mind".
It also included a slightly slower, extended remake of "Cherry Blossom Clinic", which finished with an extended instrumental section quoting heavily from classical pieces: Johann Sebastian Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," Paul Dukas' "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" played on the bass guitar, and Tchaikowsky's "Chinese Dance" from The Nutcracker played in a heavy metal style. According to an interview in 2000, Wayne had devised a plan to revive The Move's fortunes by bringing Burton and Kefford back in. Well aware that Wood was intent on setting up his new orchestral rock project (which eventually became ELO), he suggested that Wood could concentrate on performing with his new band while continuing to write songs for The Move. However his suggestion was bluntly rejected by Wood, Bevan and Price, the other three members, so Wayne finally quit the group in January 1970. He subsequently worked in a variety of musical ventures and appeared on television and radio. In 2000 he replaced Allan Clarke as lead singer of The Hollies and performed with them as lead singer until his death from cancer in 2004.
Upon Wayne's departure, The Move jettisoned Walsh as manager and returned to Arden. The band's second album Shazam was released in February 1970. Lynne joined, enthused by Wood's ELO idea, as Wood realized that he needed a second composer in the band to relieve the pressure on himself, and the band toured the UK with Arden's other major client, Black Sabbath. From this period came their third album Looking On (December 1970), with four songs composed by Wood, two by Lynne and one by Bevan. The album included a #7 hit, Wood's "Brontosaurus", which was the band's last recording for Regal Zonophone. The second single from the album, "When Alice Comes Back to the Farm," failed to chart. During the lengthy recording sessions for the next album, which included continuous overdubbing of new instruments by Wood and Lynne, Price left in December 1970 to pursue other projects, including the band Mongrel, although he later rejoined Wood in Wizzard and the short-lived Wizzo Band. He went to work in musical management, and also formed the duo Price and Lee with his wife, Dianne Lee, formerly of the duo, Peters and Lee.
In August 1970 the group were the lead act at the Knighton Rock Festival, staged in the small Radnorshire town of Knighton. The remaining three members - Wood, Lynne and Bevan - completed the final Move LP, Message from the Country (1971). Wood's "Ben Crawley Steel Company" featured a Bevan lead vocal that was modelled on Johnny Cash, while Bevan's "Don't Mess Me Up" (sung by Wood) paid homage to Elvis Presley, complete with fake Jordanaires. Although music critics continue to hold this album in high regard, in 2005 Bevan referred to this album as his least favorite from The Move. The album was followed by two more Wood-penned hit singles, "Tonight" and "Chinatown". For several television appearances behind these songs, The Move added two musicians who became members of the group after its transition into ELO: Bill Hunt (horns, woodwind, piano) and Richard Tandy (guitar, bass).
As the release of the first Electric Light Orchestra album drew near, The Move released what turned out to be a farewell disc, a maxi single in 1972 consisting of "California Man", "Ella James" (from Message, but a track originally planned by EMI to be their first single on the Harvest label) and "Do Ya". "California Man", a #7 UK hit, featured baritone saxophones, a double bass, and a riff borrowed from George Gershwin, was an affectionate tribute to Jerry Lee Lewis (the double bass had "Killer", Lewis' nickname, written on it) with Lynne and Wood trading verses and lines. Meanwhile, Lynne's "Do Ya" became the Move's best known song in the US; it was the only Move song to reach the US Billboard Hot 100 chart at #93. However, the Electric Light Orchestra's remake of "Do Ya", recorded after Wood's departure, was a significant US hit in 1977. With the release of the album The Electric Light Orchestra, The Move completed its transition into ELO. Wood released a solo album in 1973, Boulders, and went on to front the glam rock band Wizzard, while Lynne and Bevan kept touring and finally achieved success with ELO.
Although never as popular in the United States as they were in their native country, the Move were a seminal pop/rock group of the era, and are often cited as one of the main progenitors of power pop. Todd Rundgren recorded a version of "Do Ya" with his group Utopia on their album Another Live, Cheap Trick recorded a version of "California Man" on their Heaven Tonight album, whilst Glen Matlock of the Sex Pistols admitted that one of the guitar riffs on "God Save the Queen" was inspired by that on "Fire Brigade". In 1997, "Feel Too Good" was featured on the soundtrack of the film, Boogie Nights, and in 2006 "Do Ya" was featured on a US television advertisement. Message from the Country was remastered and released on the original labels, Harvest in the UK in 2005 and Capitol in the US in 2006.
In 2004, after the death of Wayne, Bevan formed The Bev Bevan Band, soon renamed as Bev Bevan's Move (without any other past members) to capitalize on The Move's continuing reputation and belated success. Bevan recruited bassist Phil Tree and former ELO Part II colleagues, guitarist Phil Bates and keyboard player Neil Lockwood, to play a set comprising mostly The Move classics on tour. Wood expressed extreme displeasure at this development.
Former Move guitarist Burton joined the band on occasion during 2006 and joined permanently in 2007. Bates departed in July 2007 to rejoin ELO Part II, now renamed The Orchestra and was replaced with Gordon Healer. The Autumn 2007 tour was billed as 'The Move featuring Trevor Burton and Bev Bevan'.
(Singles and albums marked ** were not issued in the US)
This is a selected list of compilation albums.
- Split Ends (1972, United Artists) (US compilation)
- Firebrigade (1972, MFP Records) (UK, EMI)
- The Best of the Move (1974, A&M) (US compilation)
- Great Move!: The Best of the Move (1992, EMI)**
- The BBC Sessions (1995)**
- Movements: 30th Anniversary Anthology (2008, Westside)**
- Anthology 1966–1972 (2008, Salvo Records 4-CD set)**
- Something Else from The Move (1969) ** (5 track EP played at 33 rpm)
- Official website at the Wayback Machine
- Face The Music site: Move, ELO, and related
- The Move Information Station
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Image from Discogs