Album review: ROY WOOD AND WIZZARD – Mainstreet/Eddy &The Falcons

ROY WOOD AND WIZZARD – Mainstreet

Main Street
Cherry Red Records [Release date 28.08.20]

Two years later, apparently stifled by the “hit machine” expectations that weighed upon him, Wood wrote, recorded and released “Main Street”. It was his first real attempt to climb off the pop conveyor belt and create “music for adults”.

For some, it was an indigestible stew of soaring melodies, jazz inflections and multiple stabs at “rock as theatre”. For others, it was Wood pushing the boundaries of structure and tone to the outer edges of popular music.

What’s frustrating is the way it lurches from avant garde, freeform jazz to instrumental battlefields of tempo and taste. Listening to ‘Saxmaniacs’ immediately followed by ‘The Fire In His Guitar’ would make you queasy if you weren’t hanging on to something stable.

And yet in the middle of this the shufling, lightfooted lounge jazz of ‘French Perfume’ sallies forth, ultimately edged out by a hugely catchy, powerpop chorus and a sublime acoustic guitar solo half way through.

Even that compositional genius is surpassed by ‘Take My Hand’, a Brian Wilson tribute, big on sax, piano and warbling synths, blessed with beautifully romantic lyrics and melody. Wood at his absolute inventive and imaginative best.

The album refused to gain traction with a 1976 audience perhaps not ready for Wood’s revolutionary sounds, and was ultimately shelved. Thanks to the enterprising Esoteric Recordings, it’s now been dusted down and polished up, the original artwork has been restored and a bonus track added.  ***1/2

Review by Brian McGowan

ROY WOOD AND WIZZARD - Introducing Eddy & the Falcons

Introducing Eddy and The Falcons
Cherry Red Records [Release date 28.08.20]

Roy Wood created an incomparable track record as a successful songwriter and imaginative musician. His bands – The Move, ELO and ultimately Wizzard – regularly stormed the charts in the late sixties and early seventies.

In 1972, he wrote a ten track love letter to the popular music of his youth, titled “Introducing Eddy and The Falcons”. It was recorded and released by Wizzard in 1974.

As a pastiche, there are few to touch it. It’s remarkably lean and confident, cutting through to the essence of the artists and the era being parodied. From Elvis (I Dun Lotsa Cryin Over You), to Phil Spector (Story Of My Love) to Del Shannon (Everyday I Wonder). Plus the album is chocka with wonderfully dated song titles, like ‘Come Back Karen’ and ‘Crazy Jeans’, allowing us to join the fun as the album shifts smoothly from one satirical thrill ride to the next.

It was a critical and commercial triumph, and has now been remastered and expanded, with 9 bonus tracks being added, including the UK charting ‘Are You Ready to Rock’, and ‘Rock’n'Roll Winter’, the band’s first single release after signing with Warners, and a UK no.6 Top Forty hit.  ***1/2

Review by Brian McGowan


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