Message from the Country

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Message from the Country
Studio album by The Move
Released 8 October 1971
2005 Remastered
Genre Rock
Length 38:28
Label Harvest (UK)
Capitol (US)
Producer Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne
The Move chronology
Looking On
(1970)
Message from the Country
(1971)
Split Ends
(1972)
US album cover

Message from the Country is the fourth and last album by The Move, as well as its only album for EMI's Harvest. This album has long had the reputation as The Move's best album, although it was recorded while the band was changing itself into the Electric Light Orchestra.

Recording[edit]

Recorded in 1970–71 at the same time that The Move was also laying down tracks for the first Electric Light Orchestra album (and even during some of the same sessions), there are inevitably some similarities in style between the two albums, especially the heavy use of "tracking up" (overdubbing) to capture all of the instruments being played by Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne. Nevertheless, Wood and Lynne were determined to maintain some differentiation between the sound of their two groups (for example, by confining Wood's saxes to Message and Wood's cellos to the ELO debut).

The lengthy sessions for this album mostly just involved Wood and Lynne, because of all the tracking up being done. As a result, during these sessions, bassist Rick Price quit The Move, reducing it to a trio. Instead of replacing him, Roy Wood added bass duties to his other roles, as well as erasing Price's tracks on the existing songs and then re-recording the bass lines. Although drummer Bev Bevan did not quit, he states that this is his least-favorite Move album in the liner notes for the 2005 reissue.

Singing[edit]

All previous Move singles had been solo Wood compositions, and recent singles had also featured Wood singing lead, but this album presented a problem. Wood only composed four songs, with four songs from Lynne, one Lynne–Wood joint credit, and one Bevan song. Lead vocals on the album also were split between Wood and Lynne depending upon author, with Wood singing lead on Bevan's composition "Don't Mess Me Up", Bevan singing lead on Wood's "Ben Crawley Steel Company" and Lynne singing lead on the joint composition "My Marge". Thus, there were only three songs on the album written and sung by Wood.

Release[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]

The initial 1971 album on the Harvest label in the UK and Capitol in the US contained tracks 1–10 below (with an alternate album cover – seen at right – on the US release, as well as the same songs in different playing order), as did a later reissue on CD on Beat Goes On Records in the UK and One Way in the US, both long since deleted. The bonus tracks on the current reissue are alternative takes and A-sides or B-sides of singles. The US rights to the Message songs were transferred to United Artists shortly after the release of Message, and various compilation albums and CDs containing some combination of the songs on Message and the five single tracks were released in the US by United Artists for years prior to the comprehensive reissue. One such album is the 1972 album Split Ends; another is the album Great Move: The Best of The Move, released in 1995, by which time Capitol/EMI owned the rights to United Artists material in the US. The latter album, released only on CD contained a US radio ad for "Split Ends" as an unlisted track.

Ultimately, Wood's "Ella James" was released as a single in 1971, but it was quickly withdrawn when Harvest and the group felt that Wood's "Tonight" (not originally on Message) would be a more commercial choice for The Move's first single on the Harvest label. No other song from the album was ever issued as a single, although The Move released two more hit singles ("Chinatown" and "California Man", both written by Wood) before becoming ELO permanently. All three songs featured lead vocals from both Wood and Lynne. The Move was also responsible for the album cover art, as the painting was done by Wood, based on an idea by Lynne.

"Ella James" was later covered by The Nashville Teens. "No Time" was covered by Marshall Crenshaw in 2012.

In 2010, Rhapsody called it one of the best "longhaired" power-pop albums of the 1970s.[2]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Message from the Country" (Jeff Lynne) – 4:45
  2. "Ella James" (Roy Wood) – 3:11
  3. "No Time" (Lynne) – 3:38
  4. "Don't Mess Me Up" (Bev Bevan) – 3:07
  5. "Until Your Mama's Gone" (Wood) – 5:03
  6. "It Wasn't My Idea to Dance" (Wood) – 5:28
  7. "The Minister" (Lynne) – 4:27
  8. "Ben Crawley Steel Company" (Wood) – 3:02
  9. "The Words of Aaron" (Lynne) – 5:25
  10. "My Marge" (Lynne, Wood) – 1:59
Bonus tracks (2005 reissue)
  1. "Tonight" (Wood) – 3:15
  2. "Chinatown" (Wood) – 3:06
  3. "Down on the Bay" (Lynne) – 4:14
  4. "Do Ya" (Lynne) – 4:03
  5. "California Man" (Wood) – 3:35
  6. "Don't Mess Me Up" (Alternate session version) (Bevan) – 3:18
  7. "The Words of Aaron" (Alternate session version) (Lynne) – 6:03
  8. "Do Ya" (Alternate session version) (Lynne) – 7:00 (includes "hidden track" of "My Marge" (Alternate session version) (Lynne, Wood))

Personnel[edit]

Other Personnel
  • Rick Price – bass on some original tracks (erased and redubbed by Wood)

References[edit]