With such a flurry of 'new' Move releases during the last few years, it's easy to assume the fabled 'Live at The Fillmore' tapes from 1969 must have gotten lost in the mix. Starting in 2005 with the issue of the definitive high-quality remaster onto CD of the Move's 'Message From The Country' LP, the monumental re-mastering process of all the group's original LPs and singles was to occupy much of the remaining decade. This culminated in the magnificent Move 'Anthology' box set which included on it amongst the many rare and previously un-issued tracks, two live performances from the 1969 Fillmore concerts.
Confirmation that the Move's 'Live At The Marquee' recordings (first issued in 1968 on the rare 'Something Else From The Move' EP) had vocal tracks overdubbed because of technical issues, has made the release of the 'Live At The Fillmore' tapes even more significant as the only fully 'live' and complete Move concert recording known to exist. The Fillmore tapes themselves were recorded direct from the sound mixing board during the two nights the band performed at the venue on October 17th and 18th, 1969. The tapes were given to Carl Wayne who kept them safe in hope they would one day be released as a live Move album. In a 2003 interview, Carl remarked: "I still believe Roy, Bev, Rick and myself were a formidable live band and we gave some of our best performances on that trip which is why I kept the tapes all these years".
Sue Wayne (Carl's widow) is to be thanked for giving her permission to have 'The Move Live at The Fillmore' tapes restored - a process that apparently took many months due to technical issues with the original recordings. Sue dedicates this historic release to her son Jack Wayne who in turn dedicates the album to his mother and father. Rob Keyloch, who previously worked on the restoration of all the Move's original album recordings has obviously done a great job on this project in getting the best possible sound quality. E.L.O. archivist and researcher Rob Caiger also deserves immense credit for the Fillmore tapes finally seeing the light of day.
The Move's 1969 'tour' of the U.S.A. was in itself an exercise of 'too little, too late' by the time it was undertaken. The famous 'British Invasion' was by then long over, with the American audiences interest in Brit bands turning to heavy guitar-based rock of new groups such as Cream, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin. The Move's status as a hit singles chart act in the U.K. meant little in an American record market now dominated by the long-player album format. "It was the silliest American tour anyone had ever been on" recalled Bev Bevan. "We had a record deal over there but no one met us on our arrival in new York. It was as if they had hoped we would never turn up!"
Despite the apathy of record companies and promoters, those lucky enough to have attended any of The Move's American shows were not disappointed. The Fillmore recordings show a side of The Move rarely seen at that time in their U.K. shows which by then consisted mostly of just 'the hits' to satisfy a cabaret audience. The band had already begun recordings for what would become their 'Shazam' album before departing to the U.S. in October with the line-up at that time consisting of Carl Wayne, Roy Wood, Bev Bevan and Rick Price. The Fillmore tapes captured live, gritty versions of the songs (minus Beautiful Daughter) that would be included on Shazam, plus more.
When the Move arrived in New York, they were met by their appointed tour-guide and roadie John "Upsy" Downing who had previously worked with Jimi Hendrix (he would later become ELO's tour manager). After purchasing guitars and drums in New York, the band drove to Detroit to perform two nights at the Grande Ballroom along with Iggy and The Stooges who were on the same bill. Then it was a two-day 1,700 mile drive along the legendary 'Route 66' to Los Angeles for shows at the famous 'Whisky A Go Go' on Sunset Strip. "Whoever organized this tour had not been studying a map at the time!" recalled Bev.
Los Angeles proved a real eye opener for the group during their five nights performing there. The Move got to experience the drink and drugs rock 'n' roll lifestyle first hand in the night clubs of LA including the sight of Jim Morrison being carried out of a club feet first, stoned out of his mind! Driving north to San Francisco, they arrived at the very temple of American west coast psychedelic rock - the legendary Fillmore West - to perform two nights along with Little Richard and Joe Cocker's Grease Band. As you will discover on this CD, the Move's performances at The Fillmore were nothing less than pure magic!
As can be expected from previous Move re-masters, the CD package of The Move Live at The Fillmore comes with a generous 12 page book having extensive liner-notes to include Carl, Bev and Rick's own recollections of that tour. There's even an eyewitness account from U.S. Move fan Archie Patterson who attended one of The Move's shows at The Fillmore West. The book also includes a number of rare, previously un-published black & white and colour photos from the band members own collections. There's no comments in the book from Roy Wood but rumour has it, he didn't want the tapes released so this may not be surprising. Strange though as his performances on these recordings are nothing less than brilliant.
Getting down to the music itself, the first CD opens up with a thundering cover of Todd Rundgren's Open My Eyes originally performed by his early U.S. group The Nazz. Carl's powerful lead vocal on this one is supported by equally impressive harmonies from Roy and Rick. Roy's trademark 'wah wah' guitar soloing features prominently on there too. This track was included on The Move Anthology box set a few years back. On the next track, Carl delivers his best tonsil-shredding vocal on the cover of Don't Make My Baby Blue against a backdrop of powerful guitar and drums. Much of the live energy on this one was captured in the studio version included on the Shazam album although not to the same degree as The Fillmore recording presented here.
Track three is a slightly different arrangement of The Move's Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited than the studio version they included on Shazam. Featuring a low-key intro, this amazing song soon erupts into its familiar progression complete with the dueling instrumental guitar and bass excerpts from Bach's 'Ode To Joy' with 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice' along with the loony vocals reminiscent of Monty Python! This first of two versions included on The Fillmore CDs remains fairly close to the arrangement Move fans are familiar with. Audience response to all the performances on these CDs, is limited very much to the background but as the tracks are 'sound board' recordings, this is not surprising as there was obviously no microphone available to capture the room dynamics. You can certainly add your own applause which I'm sure will come easy for most Move fans!
Another cover, Tom Paxton's The Last Thing On My Mind is one of my personal favorites as featuring the full range of Carl's fantastic lead vocal talents. There's little doubt that Carl was the undisputed leader and front-man of this incarnation of the band. Roy and Rick also have their individual turns in the vocal spotlight on this track, but it's Carl who really steals the show as I'm sure anyone would agree. Roy Wood's amazing guitar soloing with his use of wah wah and echo is featured here too. I've heard say the Roy was no guitar hero but I'm sure many would question that after hearing this.
CD 1 ends with a fantastic 10-minute long rendition of the Move classic I Can Hear The Grass Grow and unless you heard the preview on The Move box set, you've never heard it like this before! This song was always a live favorite with the band and one of the very few early ones they continued to include in their sets up until they stopped performing live in the early 1970s. The live version here evolves into the Steppenwolf classic Born To Be Wild chorus, followed by a very impressive drum solo from Bev Bevan. This is followed by dueling bass and guitar from Roy and Rick that has riffs from the '1812 Overture' and 'Peter Gunn' after which the song concludes with a thundering finale.
Rick Price's contributions to The Move have been very underrated but as can be heard in these live recordings, his presence is more than justified with his powerful lead bass lines and pitch-perfect vocal performance. Yes - that's right I meant "lead" bass much in the same way John Entwistle was such a huge part of The Who's legendary live shows. Rick had certainly developed his own sound and style on the electric bass guitar that made The Move heavier than ever during their final years as a performing unit. The Fillmore recordings prove this beyond any doubt.
The second CD in this package kicks off with the Ars Nova cover Fields Of People, also a track included on the Shazam LP. The 3-part vocal harmonies on this one are amazing as I'm sure you'll agree. At 17 minutes, it's also the longest song here as it includes Roy playing his legendary 'banjar' towards the end, thus providing a hypnotic middle eastern drone that's extended some considerable length beyond the studio album version. This is followed by the Goffin & King classic Goin' Back - another live favorite of the band that again becomes a showcase for the vocal harmonies the Move were famous for.
A Roy Wood original Hello Susie is the next track. This one was a June 1969 hit for U.K. band Amen Corner whose horn-driven version is far removed from The Move's much heavier rendition. This live version concludes surprisingly with the main riff for the Move's hit Fire Brigade which makes it different from the studio version ending on Shazam. After this one, The Move again pay tribute to Todd Rundgren and The Nazz with a surprising performance of Under The Ice which to my knowledge is the only recording in existence of the group doing this song. This may be the heaviest track in the collection with Carl's raunchy lead vocal, extended guitar solos, manic drum bashing, and the legendary live energy that was The Move. Play it LOUD!
CD 2 includes additional night performances of Don't Make My Baby Blue, Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited, and The Last Thing On My Mind. There's also a bonus track of Bev Bevan talking about his own experience as he remembers of the U.S. tour. If I had any complaint concerning The Move Live at The Fillmore 1969, it would be the rather boring CD cover art which doesn't reflect the incredible psychedelic and colourful designs of the posters shown at the time to advertise artists who performed at that legendary venue. Other than that, it's an excellent package and well worth the wait to finally hear it. It will certainly take its place in my collection as one of the best live albums - and as for any other Move fan, what are you waiting for...?? it's THE MOVE LIVE AT THE FILLMORE 1969!!!!!!
The only real misadventure on the Move's 1969 American tour appears to be Rick Price's drink getting 'spiked' with acid during the Move's last night at The Fillmore. He really was 'eight miles high' during and after that show - you can read his own hilarious account in the CD booklet. Planned shows at the Fillmore East in New York were unfortunately scrapped when Rick was bundled onto the next flight departure from sunny California and back home to Birmingham along with the rest of the band.
After experiencing the free-form excitement of playing the American shows, it's not hard to imagine the atmosphere within the group as they went back to their U.K. bookings on the regimented though lucrative 'northern cabaret circuit'. The resulting dissent would ultimately lead to Carl Wayne's departure and the arrival into The Move of Jeff Lynne, thus setting the wheels in motion for the end of a great band and the beginning of an even greater one!
The track listing for The Move Live At The Fillmore 1969 is as follows:
(*additional bonus performances.)