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Of Wizzards and Electric Light Orchestras: Roy Wood Opens His “Music Book” and ELO Goes “Essential”

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Electric Light Orchestra may not have been the first band to merge a classical sensibility with the power of rock, but the group was undoubtedly the most successful.  Yet the group of “Mr. Blue Sky” and “Evil Woman” began as a decidedly different aggregation, born out of the ashes of Birmingham, England’s The Move.  When lead singer Carl Wayne departed The Move, his bandmate Roy Wood invited one Jeff Lynne, of The Idle Race, to join him.  This revitalized line-up of The Move produced two albums.  Legend has it that Wood made the first suggestion to add cellos to Lynne’s song “10538 Overture,” originally intended as a Move B-side.  But whatever the genesis, the two men created an altogether new sound together.  It wasn’t long before tensions between management, Wood and Lynne came to a head, and Wood departed the newly-christened Electric Light Orchestra.  Lynne, of course, took ELO to new heights while Roy Wood’s Wizzard racked up six U.K. Top 10 singles and a considerable legacy of its own.  This fall, the legacies of both Electric Light Orchestra and Roy Wood are being celebrated with two new anthologies.

The two-disc Essential Electric Light Orchestra is in stores now from Legacy Recordings, and if the name sounds familiar, that’s because a single-disc version was issued under the same title in 2006.  That edition’s 15 tracks have more than doubled to 37, with selections from every ELO album between 1971 and 1986 represented.  (No selections are included from 2001’s Zoom, a Jeff Lynne solo effort in all but name.) With Wood’s departure after the band’s very first album in 1971, Lynne continued to guide the classically-inspired rock band to pick up “where the Beatles left off.”  The heavier, more progressive sound of the early albums soon gave way to a more accessible, effortlessly melodic but still intricately orchestrated style.  The band’s fourth album, 1974’s Eldorado, became its first gold album, containing the hit “Can’t Get It Out of My Head.”  1975 follow-up Face the Music offered two more giant hit singles, “Evil Woman” and “Strange Magic,” and the classic line-up was in place: Lynne (writer/producer as well as vocals/guitar), Bev Bevan (drums, percussion, vocals), Richard Tandy (piano, organ, keyboards, guitar), Kelly Groucutt (bass/vocals), Mik Kaminski (violin), Hugh McDowell (cello), and Melvyn Gale (cello).  Electric Light Orchestra was, indeed, on its way to becoming one of the most singular acts in rock history, even arriving for concert appearances in a giant spaceship!

All of the original versions of ELO classics can be found on The Essential with the exception of Olivia Newton John’s “Xanadu,” written and produced by Lynne for the soundtrack to the 1980 film.  Lynne’s own rendition has been included from the 2000 box set Flashback.  (“I’m Alive,” “All Over the World” and “Don’t Walk Away” all appear from the soundtrack recording.)  1977’s Out of the Blue and 1979’s Discovery are the two best-represented albums with five tracks apiece.  As this collection is designed to emphasize the singles side of the band, there is only one track from 1971’s The Electric Light Orchestra (or No Answer in its American edition) and 1972’s ELO 2.  Only one cut has been excerpted from 1975’s concept album Eldorado, but it’s a doozy, the dreamlike hit “Can’t Get It Out Of My Head” which was ELO’s first American Top 10 single.

Hit the jump for the details on Roy Wood’s Music Book, plus the track listing and discography for both releases!

Music Book brings together classics from all of the many periods of Roy Wood’s career in non-chronological sequence, including cover versions and six previously unreleased tracks.  From The Move days, the band itself can be heard on “Brontosaurus” and “Blackberry Way” (in a previously unreleased version with additional strings) while Wood has selected Nancy Sinatra’s psychedelic cover of “Flowers in the Rain” to represent that seminal song.  Similarly, “I Can Hear the Grass Grow” is included in Status Quo’s rendition.  The Move’s lead vocalist, the late Carl Wayne, is heard on a duet with Wood on “Beautiful Daughter,” while unreleased versions of “California Man” and “Fire Brigade” performed by Wood’s Rock & Roll Big Band and solo, respectively, are among the never-before-heard tracks.

ELO appears via one song, Wood’s “First Movement,” from the band’s debut album.  Upon departing ELO in July 1972, Wood formed Wizzard, but he concurrently maintained a solo career.  A proficient singer, songwriter and player of guitars, bass, cello, flute, sitar, saxophones, clarinet, drums and piano/keyboard, among other instruments, Wood’s 1973 Boulders was produced and recorded almost entirely by Wood alone.  With Wizzard (formed by Wood, bassist Rick Price, drummers Charlie Grima and Keith Smart, saxophonists Mike Burnet and Nick Pentelow and ELO expatriates Bill Hunt on keyboards/horns and Hugh McDowell on cello), Wood donned fanciful costumes and striking face paint, forging an image in the larger-than-life glam era.  Wizzard’s music stretched Wood’s rock and pop influences; “See My Baby Jive” was an infectious tribute to the Phil Spector “Wall of Sound,” while “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” remains a U.K. holiday perennial to this day.  (It, alas, didn’t catch on in America.)  Though Wood’s prodigious output eventually slowed down, he’s continued to busy himself with a number of recording units; some of those later groups, such as Helicopters, are featured on the new set.

Music Book’s 36 tracks are drawn from releases on numerous labels.  In addition to sequencing the collection itself, Wood has remastered and remixed many of the tracks specifically for this project.  The career-spanning anthology should prove a nice appetizer for Wood’s return to the stage this winter.  He’ll be supporting Status Quo with his Rock & Roll Big Band for U.K. dates this November and December.  The 2-CD set arrives from EMI on November 14 in the U.K. and roughly a week later on American shores.  The Essential Electric Light Orchestra is available now from Legacy.  Track listings and order links for both titles follow.

Electric Light Orchestra, The Essential Electric Light Orchestra (Epic/Jet/Legacy, 2011)

CD 1

  1. 10538 Overture (7-inch edit)
  2. Roll Over Beethoven
  3. Showdown
  4. Ma-Ma-Ma Belle
  5. Can’t Get It Out Of My Head (7-inch edit)
  6. Evil Woman
  7. Nightrider (7-inch edit)
  8. Strange Magic
  9. Livin’ Thing
  10. Do Ya
  11. Rockaria!
  12. Telephone Line
  13. Turn To Stone
  14. Mr. Blue Sky
  15. Sweet Talkin’ Woman
  16. Wild West Hero
  17. It’s Over
  18. Shine A Little Love

CD 2

  1. Don’t Bring Me Down
  2. The Diary Of Horace Wimp
  3. Confusion
  4. Last Train To London
  5. I’m Alive
  6. Xanadu (New Version)
  7. All Over The World
  8. Don’t Walk Away
  9. Hold On Tight
  10. Twilight
  11. Ticket To The Moon
  12. The Way Life’s Meant To Be
  13. Rock and Roll Is King
  14. Secret Messages
  15. Four Little Diamonds
  16. Calling America
  17. So Serious
  18. Surrender
  19. Latitude 88 North

Disc 1, Track 1 original version from Electric Light Orchestra, Harvest LP SHVL 797 (U.K.), 1971
Disc 1, Track 2 from ELO 2, Harvest LP SHVL 806 (U.K.), 1972
Disc 1, Tracks 3-4 from On the Third Day, Jet LP PZ 35525, 1973
Disc 1, Track 5 from Eldorado, Jet LP JZ 35526, 1974
Disc 1, Tracks 6-8 original versions from Face the Music, Jet LP PZ 35527, 1975
Disc 1, Tracks 9-12 from A New World Record, Jet LP PZ 35529, 1976
Disc 1, Tracks 13-17 from Out of the Blue, Jet LP KZ2 35530, 1977
Disc 1, Track 18 & Disc 2, Tracks 1-4 from Discovery, Jet LP JET 500, 1979
Disc 2, Tracks 5, 7-8 from Xanadu: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, MCA LP MCA-6100, 1980
Disc 2, Track 6 from Flashback, Epic/Legacy 85123, 2000
Disc 2, Tracks 9-12 from Time, Jet LP FZA 37371, 1981
Disc 2, Tracks 13-15 from Secret Messages, Jet LP QZ 38490, 1983
Disc 2, Tracks 16-17 from Balance of Power, CBS LP ZK 40048, 1986
Disc 2, Track 18 from A New World Record, Legacy 85422, 2006
Disc 2, Track 19 from Out of the Blue, Legacy 694272, 2007

Roy Wood, Music Book (EMI, 2011)

CD 1

  1. California Man – Roy Wood With His Rock & Roll “Big Band” *
  2. Ball Park Incident – Wizzard
  3. Forever – Roy Wood
  4. Oh What A Shame – Roy Wood
  5. Fire Brigade – Roy Wood *
  6. French Perfume – Roy Wood With Wizzard
  7. Down To Zero – Roy Wood
  8. Raining In The City – Roy Wood
  9. I Can Hear The Grass Grow – Status Quo
  10. Beautiful Daughter – Roy Wood With Carl Wayne
  11. Tonight – The Move
  12. Lion’s Heart – Roy Wood*
  13. Look Thru The Eyes Of A Fool – Roy Wood
  14. Dear Elaine – Roy Wood
  15. Main Street – Roy Wood With Wizzard
  16. New York City – Roy Wood Rock & Roll Band *
  17. Givin’ Your Heart Away – Roy Wood
  18. Sing Out The Old…Bring In The New – Roy Wood With Kempsey School Choir

CD 2

  1. See My Baby Jive – Wizzard
  2. Starting Up – Roy Wood
  3. Any Old Time Will Do – Roy Wood
  4. Miss Clarke And The Computer – Roy Wood
  5. Green Glass Windows – Roy Wood With Kempsey School Choir
  6. R. U. Red E 2 Rock – Wizzard
  7. Chinatown – The Move
  8. Flowers In The Rain – Nancy Sinatra
  9. Why Does Such A Pretty Girl Sing Those Sad Songs – Roy Wood
  10. Brontosaurus – The Move
  11. Olympic Flyer – Roy Wood
  12. Angel Fingers – A Teen Ballad- Wizzard
  13. Keep Your Hands On The Wheel – Roy Wood Featuring John Bonham Drums
  14. Aerial Pictures – Roy Wood *
  15. This Is The Story Of My Love – Wizzard
  16. Blackberry Way – The Move With Extra Strings By Roy Wood *
  17. I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday – Wizzard
  18. First Movement – ELO feat. Roy Wood on acoustic guitar and cello

Disc 1, Tracks 1, 5 & 16 and Disc 2, Tracks 14 & 16 previously unreleased
Disc 1, Track 2 from Harvest single HAR-5062, 1972
Disc 1, Track 3 from Harvest single HAR-5078, 1973
Disc 1, Track 4 from Jet single 754, 1975
Disc 1, Tracks 6 & 15 from Main Street, Edsel CD EDCD 626, 2000
Disc 1, Track 7 from EMI single 5203, 1981
Disc 1, Track 8 from Legacy single LGY 53, 1986
Disc 1, Track 9 from Don’t Stop, Polygram TV 531 035-2, 1996
Disc 1, Track 10 TBD
Disc 1, Track 11 from Harvest single 5038, 1971
Disc 1, Track 13 & Disc 2, Tracks 3 & 9 from Mustard, Jet LP 12, 1975
Disc 1, Track 14 from Harvest single HAR-5074, 1972
Disc 1, Track 17 from Cheapskate single CHEAP-6, 1980
Disc 1, Track 18 from Legacy single LGY 32, 1985
Disc 2, Track 1 from Harvest single HAR-5070, 1973
Disc 2, Track 2 from Legacy LP LL-1519, 1987
Disc 2, Track 4 from Boulders, Harvest LP SHVL-803, 1972
Disc 2, Track 5 from EMI single 5156, 1981
Disc 2, Track 6 from Warner Bros. single K-16497, 1974
Disc 2, Track 7 from Harvest single HAR-5043, 1971
Disc 2, Track 8 from Reprise (U.K.) single 14138, 1971
Disc 2, Track 10 from Regal Zonophone single RZ-3026, 1970
Disc 2, Track 11 from EMI single 5203, 1981
Disc 2, Track 12 from Harvest single HAR-5076, 1973
Disc 2, Track 13 from Warner Bros. single K-17248, 1978
Disc 2, Track 15 from Warner Bros. single K-16434, 1974
Disc 2, Track 17 from Harvest single HAR-5079, 1973
Disc 2, Track 18 from Electric Light Orchestra, Harvest LP SHVL-797, 1971

Written by Joe Marchese

October 28, 2011 at 10:43

4 Responses

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  1. Great as some of these songs are, we don’t need yet another ELO compilation. What we do need is the much talked about 2-CD Deluxe Collectors Edition of Secret Messages.

    Steve

    October 28, 2011 at 18:05

  2. Not to mention, if ever there was a band who deserved the 5.1 treatment….

    Rob

    October 28, 2011 at 20:05

  3. Back in 1977 EMI/Harvest released a double LP titled The Roy Wood Story which featured all the Move’s UK hits in chronological order, followed by two early ELO tracks and all of Wizzard’s hits. Finally side four collected up a good handful of Wood’s solo output. All told it still remains a far better collection than this new set; no cover versions or ropey reworkings of past classics. Track it down!

    Simon Franklin

    October 29, 2011 at 13:50

  4. According to the CD booklet ‘Lion’s Heart’ and ‘Aerial Pictures’ are ‘previously unreleased’. In fact, the former was one of the supporting tracks on the Roy Wood Big Band ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ (live) CD single in 1995, while the latter, recorded in 1982, made its first appearance on the EMI compilation CD ‘Roy Wood The Wizzard!’ in 2006. The only really brand new (i,e, previously unissued) song is ‘New York City’.

    John

    March 4, 2013 at 16:28


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