The Move's new album, Shazam, is an honest, happy child of that heavily electronic brand of rock and roll which was born of the Who and later massively popularized by Cream and their imitators.
Those tens of thousands of tours they've endured have paid off handsomely for the Move: their music, both in performance and on this album, is structured and flowing. Shazam is a brutally energetic rock and roll album.
It opens with "Hello Susie," which, in a substantially different form, was a large hit by a popular British teenybopper act called Amen Corner a while back. The Move introduced it during their American visit with some sarcastic remarks about how they'd restored it to its original state, and surely their own version will make even the hardiest teeny wilt with horror. Devastatingly brutal and containing some absolutely lewd guitar, it's sung with unutterable viciousness by lead-singer Carl Wayne, who, delivering some of the nastiest growling ever captured on vinyl, sounds like he'd just as soon bite off Susie's head as look at her.
In "Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited," an adaptation of a charming song about confinement in a mental hospital from that first album, the Move show us all their new tricks. Poundingly rocking and energetic, its orgasmic choruses are yanked in by siren-screech guitar-slides from Wood, after the last of which there appears a short acoustic bridge that introduces an amazing series of composed movements that alternately feature a baroque Spanish guitar line in front of Rick Price's stalkingly sinister bass, explosive drumming, and finally a choral repetition in falsetto of the baroque guitar line. The walls of the Whisky very nearly crumbled when the Move performed this one there last October.
"Don't Make My Baby Blue" is a Mann-Weill semi-schlocker which the Move have converted into a stunning display of all the techniques that characterize the most compelling, "heavy" rock and roll. Wood here employs a monstrously ferocious Jimmy-Pagish guitar tone that he makes work perfectly in the context of the song. He slices the song in half in the middle with a screechingly dissonant wah-wah explosion that will floor you, and then at the end hands it over to Bev, whose drum explosion signals the torrent of sirenish harmonies that end the song.
"The Last Thing On My Mind" clinches it: what the Move here do with Tom Paxton compares quite favorably with anything the Byrds ever did with Dylan. And perhaps not coincidentally, the Move use all the Byrds' tricks, right down to the dense-sounding twelve-string guitar and massive high choruses that will remind you of jets taking off.
Do what you can to pervent this from being the last Move album. Petition Regal Zonophone in England or A&M (who's still sitting stupidly on the first album, afraid to release it). Or write your congressman. The Move must be kept going to give us more albums like this one.
- John Mendelsohn, Rolling Stone, 5/14/70.
- Billboard, 1970.
Its enthusiasts to the contrary, this is hardly the greatest rock and roll record ever to thump down the pike. It's just an artier version of the overly self-conscious mode I call stupid-rock, simultaneously gartantuan and prissy, like dinosaurs gallumphing through the tulips. It would be a lot worse if it weren't so funny, but it would also be a lot less funny if it were a little better. Recommended to Stooges fans who have just found a five dollar bill. B-
- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.
The single most accomplished album to be recorded by any of the Birmingham rock bands (which include The Moody Blues), Shazam is sort of Sgt. Pepper with an attitude, a mixture of expansive progressive-rock worthy of The Beatles and high energy music honed by years of playing loud on stage. The rendition of Tom Paxton's "The Last Thing on My Mind" pushes these guys simultaneously into Byrds and Jimi Hendrix territory, while "Beautiful Daughter" is one of the most unabashedly pretty records of this era, and "Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited" is defiantly strange. The album only exists as an import from Japan, paired up on one CD with the earlier Flowers in the Rain album (all songs in print domesticallly or a better German version filled out with five live tracks from London's Marquee Club, off of the super-rare Something Else EP). * * * * *
- Richie Unterberger, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
Shazam shows the band in all its eclectic glory, from incandescent folk-pop to full-blown pomp. * * * 1/2
- Simon Glickman, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.
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