Message from the Country
|Message from the Country|
|Studio album by The Move|
|Studio||Olympic Studios and Philips Studios, London|
|Genre||Art rock, hard rock, glam rock, power pop|
|The Move chronology|
|US album cover|
Recorded in 1970–71 at the same time that The Move was also laying down tracks for the first Electric Light Orchestra album (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 saxophones and cellos to Message and the ELO debut respectively).
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, but exactly why Wood re-tracked Price's original basslines is unclear. 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.
All previous Move singles had been solo Wood compositions, and recent singles had also featured Wood singing lead. For this album, 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".
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 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.
- "Message from the Country" (Jeff Lynne) – 4:45 (lead singer: Jeff Lynne)
- "Ella James" (Roy Wood) – 3:11 (lead singer: Roy Wood)
- "No Time" (Lynne) – 3:38 (lead singer: Jeff Lynne)
- "Don't Mess Me Up" (Bev Bevan) – 3:07 (lead singer: Roy Wood)
- "Until Your Mama's Gone" (Wood) – 5:03 (lead singer: Roy Wood)
- "It Wasn't My Idea to Dance" (Wood) – 5:28 (lead singer: Roy Wood)
- "The Minister" (Lynne) – 4:27 (lead singer: Jeff Lynne)
- "Ben Crawley Steel Company" (Wood) – 3:02 (lead singer: Bev Bevan)
- "The Words of Aaron" (Lynne) – 5:25 (lead singer: Jeff Lynne)
- "My Marge" (Lynne, Wood) – 1:59 (lead singer: Jeff Lynne)
- Bonus tracks (2005 reissue)
- "Tonight" (Wood) – 3:15 (lead singers: Roy Wood, Jeff Lynne)
- "Chinatown" (Wood) – 3:06 (lead singers: Roy Wood, Jeff Lynne)
- "Down on the Bay" (Lynne) – 4:14 (lead singer: Jeff Lynne)
- "Do Ya" (Lynne) – 4:03 (lead singers: Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood)
- "California Man" (Wood) – 3:35 (lead singers: Roy Wood, Jeff Lynne)
- "Don't Mess Me Up" (Alternate session version) (Bevan) – 3:18 (lead singer: Roy Wood)
- "The Words of Aaron" (Alternate session version) (Lynne) – 6:03 (lead singer: Jeff Lynne)
- "Do Ya" (Alternate session version) (Lynne) – 7:00 (lead singers: Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood) (includes "hidden track" of "My Marge" (Alternate session version) (Lynne, Wood))
- Roy Wood – lead and backing vocals, guitars, steel guitar, recorders, bass, clarinet, bassoon, tenor and baritone saxes, percussion
- Jeff Lynne – lead and backing vocals, guitars, piano, percussion, Wurlitzer electric piano, tack piano, Moog, percussion, drums on "My Marge"
- Bev Bevan – drums, percussion, backing vocals, lead vocal on "Ben Crawley Steel Company"
- Other Personnel
- Rick Price – bass on some original tracks (erased and redubbed by Wood)