Sunday, April 5, 2015
"... Everybody was trying so hard to progress last year they converged and sounded the same. We're going back about three years! We're going back to the days of the Beatles' 'Please, Please Me'"
- Carl Wayne, The Move, Melody Maker, 17th February 1968
In Retromania, I discuss the back-to-rock'n'roll move that first stirred in late 1968 and gathered momentum in 1969 to become a full-blown Fifties revival that would sustain through much of the early Seventies. I suggest that ironically it was two of the leading forces in rock progression who actually led the way with this rock regression: The Beatles and Frank Zappa.
While they were no doubt hugely influential in that regard (with "Back In This U.S.S.R." / "Revolution" and Cruising With Ruben & The Jets) as the quote above demonstrates it was actually The Move who got there first.
Wayne further comments in the Melody Maker interview: "We have our first LP out in two weeks' time. It's no great shakes. No sitar or electronics, just 12 commercial numbers. Roy [Wood]'s written ten of them and they have titles like 'Useless Information', 'Kilroy Was There', a song about the toilet wall poet, 'Yellow Rainbow', 'Hey Grandma' and 'Cherry Blossom Clinic'. He gets some good titles does Roy. There are also two rock 'n' roll numbers, 'It'll Be Me' by Jerry Lee Lewis, and 'Weekend' by Eddie Cochran."
In fact The Move made the backwards-in-time move as early as April of 1967, with "Wave the Flag and Stop the Train", the B-side of "I Can Hear The Grass Grow".
The A-side is absolutely a la mode, psych-pop with druggy lyrics, in the vicinity of Tomorrow's "My White Bicycle". Basically, they are attempting, like everybody else, to keep up with the Beatles.
But the B-Side goes back to the Fab Four sound circa "Help" and "Ticket To Ride" - two years earlier.
Although not going back as far as the Fifties, it's an intriguingly heterodox gesture (albeit tucked away on the B-side) of going against the progressivist dogma of 1967.
Ahead of its time in being behind of its time, you might say.... a flash-forward to Todd Rundgren's Faithful and The Rutles... but also a preview of what Roy Wood would do in Wizzard...