Roy Wood

TrackAlbum / Single
Wake UpBoulders
Dear ElaineBoulders
All The Way Over The Hill / Irish LoaferBoulders
Oh What A ShameJet single 754
Any Old Time Will DoMustard
Why Does Such A Pretty Girl Sing Those Sad SongsMustard
Lion’'s HeartMusic Book
Wings Over The SeaOn the Road Again
Starting UpStarting Out
On Top Of The WorldStarting Out

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Contributor: Ian Ashleigh

There were debates as to what really appears on Roy Wood’s birth certificate. Born in November 1946, in Birmingham, at one time it was said he was called Ulysses and his middle name was Adrian. It was all myth and legend caused by a member of The Move’s road crew completing a spoof biography for the press. There is a record of a Roy Wood being born in Birmingham in the fourth quarter of 1946 who has no other name registered. That aside, Roy Wood is one of my musical heroes.

Following involvements in various bands in the Birmingham music scene, including The Falcons and The Nightriders (which became The Idle Race), a 17 year old Roy Wood was a founder member of local ‘supergroup’ The Move which morphed into Electric Light Orchestra and which Wood left to form Wizzard.

An accomplished multi-instrumentalist, with an Honorary Doctorate in Music from the University of Derby, the only instrument on which Wood has had formal tuition is the drums when he was a child. Seeing Hank Marvin perform with The Shadows encouraged the young Roy to teach himself to play the guitar. He has experimented with sounds and sonic textures throughout his career.

In parallel with leading Wizzard, Roy Wood released a solo album, Boulders, in 1973 from which I have selected three tracks. Wake Up uses the percussive noise of water in a bucket being patted with the palm of the hand to give the effect of swimming. Dear Elaine was a single and both of these have a very English feel as opposed to the Americana inspired output from The Move, Wizzard and elsewhere on the album. My third selection is All The Way Over The Hill / Irish Loafer (And His Hen) a multi-overdubbed vocal track that is classic Roy Wood pastiche, complete with sitar solo, linked to a faux folk tune. Songs Of Praise on the album was shortlisted for The New Seekers to perform as the UK’s entry for the 1972 Eurovision Song Contest. Eventually, Beg Steal Or Borrow was a runner-up.

Following the break-up of Wizzard, Wood mainly worked as a producer, including for The Darts and his then fiancée Annie Haslam. He also released the single Oh What A Shame, the B side of which was an Irish inspired tune played on the sitar called The Bengal Jig. Other work was more experimental and, so far as I know, unreleased.

Wood’s next solo album, Mustard (1975), was less experimental than the Wizzard output with Wood once again playing all the instruments but additional vocals were provided by Phil Everly (see Toppermost #160) and the aforementioned Annie Haslam. Any Old Time Will Do was released as a single, albeit unsuccessfully but it is a jolly little love song. Why Does Such A Pretty Girl Sing Those Sad Songs is another whimsical song and said to have been inspired by Haslam.

His jazz-rock ambitions were realised in the 1977 album from Roy Wood’s Wizzo Band, Super Active Wizzo, and you can get an idea of the size of the (short-lived) project in this rare clip from the same year, BBC’s Sight and Sound In Concert.

In 2011, he released a compilation, the Roy Wood Music Book, that included covers of The Move songs, I Can Hear The Grass Grow and Flowers In The Rain by Status Quo and Nancy Sinatra respectively. Wood re-recorded some of his older songs when he couldn’t obtain the rights to republish the originals and included some previously unreleased material. Lion’s Heart is one of those unreleased tracks.

In 1979 Roy Wood’s record company, Warner Brothers, released On The Road Again in the USA and Germany only. It is variable but Wings Over The Sea is a typical Wood composition and arrangement.

Prior to the release of the compilation, his last album was Starting Up in 1987. As ever, the production, composition, instruments and vocals are all Roy Wood. The whole album has an upbeat feel and therefore we end with two short pop/rock songs as an antidote to the jazz-rock experimentation. Starting Up opens with some sound effects from a garage before the car fires up and takes us away. On Top Of The World could have been a Wizzard, or even a Move, single. And that thought takes us full circle.
 

Roy Wood official website

Roy Wood biography (iTunes)

See also Ian’s posts on The Move here and Wizzard here.

TopperPost #210

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