Shazam (album)

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Shazam
Shazam-move.jpg
Studio album by The Move
Released February 1970 (1970-02)
Studio Advision Sound Studios, London
Genre Freakbeat, hard rock, psychedelic rock, progressive rock, psychedelic pop, pop rock
Length 39:13
Label Regal Zonophone (UK), A&M (US
Producer
  • Roy Wood
  • Carl Wayne
  • Rick Price
  • Gerald Chevin
The Move chronology
Something Else from The Move
(1968)Something Else from The Move1968
Shazam
(1970)
Looking On
(1970)Looking On1970

Shazam is the second studio album by English rock band the Move, released in February 1970 by Regal Zonophone. The LP marked a bridge between the band's quirky late '60s pop singles and the progressive, long-form style of Roy Wood's next project, the Electric Light Orchestra. It was the last Move album to feature the group's original lead vocalist, Carl Wayne.

Overview[edit]

Shazam was essentially the Move's 1969 stage act captured on record. A mixture of California psychedelia, heavy metal riffs, thundering drums and quotations from classic composers, the album was generally praised by critics—Rolling Stone gave a glowing review in the spring of its release year—and is generally regarded as the band's best LP.

The band had spent most of 1969 on the cabaret circuit in England, much to the delight of lead singer/crooner Wayne and to the chagrin of guitarist/composer Roy Wood. When the group finally toured the United States in the autumn for the sole time in their career, they loosened up their performance and played at a louder volume.

Shazam is a classic example of one side of originals and another of covers, typifying a band wrestling with split musical directions. Wayne, who picked some of the songs on Side 2, delivers tender ballads (Wood's "Beautiful Daughter") and serves as a compère on spoken-word tracks between the songs (a similar vox-pop feature was included on a Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band album). "Beautiful Daughter" was under consideration for release as a single, the follow-up to "Curly", in 1970, but cancelled due to Wayne's departure just as the album was released.

Tracks like "Hello Susie" and "Don't Make My Baby Blue” meanwhile lets loose with distorted riffs and drum fills. "Hello Susie" had previously been a hit for Amen Corner, though their faster, more pop-oriented version was markedly different from the Move's heavy metal treatment. "Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited" was a variation on "Cherry Blossom Clinic", a track from the group's debut album, taken at a slower pace, the first verse diffidently spoken by Wayne, recorded without any strings or brass, and interpolating a medley of classical tunes including works by Bach and Tchaikovsky, played on guitars.

While drummer Bev Bevan regards this as his favorite Move album, Wood's memories were more bittersweet, likely due to 1969 having been a year of up-and-downs for the band. The "Blackberry Way" single hit No. 1 in the UK to open the year, bassist Trevor Burton quit shortly thereafter and replaced by Rick Price, and the February 1969 American tour was cancelled because of this. It later transpired that a couple of the tracks featured Burton playing bass rather than Price. When the tour did finally happen later that year, it was a financial failure and a logistical farce—due to shoddy planning, the band was forced to race across the country by car (and a U-Haul trailer) to make very few dates. During this time, the relationship between Wood and Wayne - who had always had different personalities and temperaments - was being severely tested. The two dynamic creative forces in the band were frequently at odds with one another over style and content—Wood reckoned The Move had gone as far as it could go, short of breaking through in America, and wanted to launch a new strings-and-rock project with Jeff Lynne, which would become The Electric Light Orchestra. Wayne, however, still saw potential in the band and wanted to return to their roots with short sharp tracks, even attempting to persuade the others to allow Burton and original bassist Ace Kefford back in the band while Wood would focus on his new ELO project and continue to write songs for The Move, but Price, Wood and Bevan rejected his suggestion.

Returning to the cabaret circuit after the debacle in the United States was the last straw for Wood. One night, in Sheffield in January 1970, he infamously threw a glass at a mouthy cabaret patron who'd called him "a poofta." Wayne angrily blew up at him backstage, and the original Move was all but finished. Wayne quit the band, just before Shazam was released, and was replaced by Jeff Lynne who, having previously rejected Wood's first invitation to join The Move because he wanted to stay with The Idle Race, agreed to join on the condition that they retire The Move and focus full-time on ELO.

While not a commercial success in the UK—it was overshadowed by the hit single, "Brontosaurus," which debuted a fortnight after Shazam hit the stores, and was the first recording to feature Lynne. In the US, when it debuted on A&M Records, the heavy feel, tight harmonies, and extended solos made it a cult favorite and the record that introduced most American fans to the band. It also proved to be a stylistic template for successful 1970s bands, such as Cheap Trick and Kiss.

Critical reception[edit]

In a contemporary review for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau gave Shazam a "B–" and said that, although it is "compelling when played loud", the album is also "full of annoying distractions, musical and otherwise." He described it as "overtly self-conscious" "stupid-rock" and facetiously recommended it to "Stooges fans who have just found a $5 bill."[1] In a retrospective review, Allmusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave Shazam five out of five stars and said that the "short-yet-sprawling" album reflected the band's growth into a "muscular and weirder" group. Erlewine said that, although the variety of musical ideas may be "intimidating" to listeners, the album "rewards" repeated listens "many times over" and is "wildly inventive music", as the Move "may never have been better than they are here".[2]

Track listing[edit]

Side One
  1. "Hello Susie" (Roy Wood) – 4:55
  2. "Beautiful Daughter" (Roy Wood) – 2:36
  3. "Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited" (Roy Wood) – 7:40
Side Two
  1. "Fields Of People" (Wyatt Day/Jon Pierson) – 10:09 (originally by Ars Nova)
  2. "Don't Make My Baby Blue" (Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil) – 6:18 (originally by Frankie Laine, better known in UK by The Shadows)
  3. "The Last Thing on My Mind" (Tom Paxton) – 7:35 (originally by Tom Paxton and, more famously, Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton)

Bonus Tracks (1998 reissue) (actually the EP Something Else from The Move)[edit]

7. "So You Want to Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star" [Live]
8. "Stephanie Knows Who" [Live]
9. "Something Else" [Live]
10. "It'll Be Me" [Live]
11. "Sunshine Help Me" [Live]
12. "Piece of My Heart" [Previously Unreleased Live EP Outtakes]
13. "Too Much in Love" [Previously Unreleased Live EP Outtakes]
14. "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher" [Live]
15. "Sunshine Help Me" [uncut] [Previously Unreleased Live EP Outtakes]

Bonus Tracks (2007 reissue)[edit]

7. "This Time Tomorrow" (Morgan)
8. "A Certain Something" (Morgan)
9. "Curly" (Alternate mix) (Wood)
10. "Wild Tiger Woman" (Stereo Mix) (Wood)
11. "Omnibus" [Full-length version] (Wood)
12. "Something" [Demo version] (Morgan)
13. "This Time Tomorrow" [Demo version] (Morgan)
14. "Blackberry Way" (Alternate mix) (Wood)

Personnel[edit]

"Beautiful Daughter" features an uncredited string quartet.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Christgau, Robert (July 30, 1970). "Consumer Guide (12)". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved April 14, 2013. 
  2. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Shazam - The Move". Allmusic. Retrieved April 14, 2013.