Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Parakeet Hero (God Is In The Details): Roy Wood's Music Book Is Released

Shazam Period

Tonight I am a hero to my parakeets.

          As I’ve previously mentioned, Skip and Flip live in Caroline’s office.  Their large birdcage is adjacent to the Mac that houses our digital music collection, but they're mostly left free to fly around, which they do all day.  The birds love music and Caroline frequently entertains them with tunes and sound effects that color the various news stories she reads and websites she visits. 

          Skip and Flip have a distinct preference for military-style music – marches and the like, which tend to accompany stories about the personal appearances of world leaders, e.g. Queen Elizabeth II, Hugo Chavez, Vladimir Putin.  Our birds are lively, interested -- “there and aware” -- of nature’s sounds just beyond the office's casement green glass windows.

     Roy Wood’s Music Book arrived from Amazon UK today.  It’s Roy’s first significant record release in a very long time and signals, I guess, that this great artist has finally made peace with EMI Records (just in time for EMI's recently announced Armageddon).

Skip and Flip

        Music Book collects Roy Wood music spanning his work in The Move, Electric Light Orchestra (Roy’s Braniac brainchild; he abandoned and ceded the group to Jeff Lynne for still mysterious reasons after their first startling, groundbreaking lp), the super-successful (in the UK only) Wizzard, and his extraordinary solo music beginning with Boulders and extending to his frame-breaking present-day big brass band efforts.

               The anthology even contains a couple of curious “cover” interpretations like Nancy Sinatra’s version of The Move’s iconic (it was the first track ever played on BBC Radio One and the subject of a successful libel suit by then-Prime Minister Harold Wilson) “Flowers In The Rain” and Status Quo’s excellent take on the pivotal early Move single “I Can Hear The Grass Grow.”

              What the birds really love, though, are Roy’s dreamy swingy ballads – “Look Through The Eyes Of A Fool,” “Forever,” “Any Old Time Will Do” and “This Is The Story of My Love.”  They approve of the fact that Roy, an awesome, sometimes raunchy lead guitarist (e.g., his version of Mann-Weill’s “Don’t Make My Baby Blue” on The Move’s Shazam) eschews that type of material here in favor of pocket symphonies like Wizzard’s See My Baby Jive,” “Ball Park Incident” and “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday.”

Wizzard Roy

          Watching Skip and Flip bobbing their heads, glancing obliquely in synchronous motion at the ceiling and deliberately and slowly marching in place, I know we're all on to a good thing.  I find myself parroting (or parakeeting) their movements.    Obviously, they’re responding to the music (including what Roy’s voice intonates and communicates, of course) and not directly to the delicate, clever lyrics, which have always painted the portrait of a highly aestheticized, romantic man keen on keeping the stoic mask in place, but with eyes peering through, revealing everything.  Roy Wood's music is God-in-the-decorative details come alive, ornamentation wordlessly explaining everything.

The Move (l-r: Roy, Ace, Bev, Trevor, Carl)

          Music Book is a major release (36 tracks), which will probably not reach the large audience it deserves.  But it’s great to have this material collected in one place, beautifully remastered, bright and new for Christmas.  It's a gift we and Roy both deserve this year.

Electric Light Orchestra (l-r: Roy, Jeff, Bev)


          My two most intense rock and roll memories are hearing Shazam for the first time (just the sound of it gripped my brain like nothing else ever has on initial acquaintance) and attending my first Roy Wood performance at Annie Haslam's War Child benefit concert at Irving Plaza in New York sometime during the 1990s.   Long after The Move's and Wizzard's heyday, most of the audience had never seen Roy play live  before (his U.S. touring history was legendarily spotty and negligilble) and he was definitely the main event that night in Manhattan.  With Cheap Trick ably backing him, it was fascinating to see  every other act on the bill (consisting of key members of Procul Harum, Yes, the Moody Blues and others) standing rapt, visibly in the wings to witness Roy’s astonishing presentation.   That sort of thing never happens.

Boulders Roy playing everything

3. Green Glass Windows (Roy Wood Link)

4.  Interested parties can visit Skip and Flip bio link, line 2 above. 


  1. parrot cage accessories that help your bird learn and develop are also available online. Full spectrum lights in the cage will give your bird the advantages of the real light from the sun that nature intended them to enjoy. Bird toys are important when you are away from them. They get very lonely, and Bird Buddies are a great substitute for the mate that they may not have yet.

  2. Thanks for the advice Hamlin. Hope you enjoyed the musical, as well as the bird aspects, of this post. The parakeets did. Please visit again soon. Curtis