Wizzard

TrackAlbum
See My Baby JiveHarvest single HAR 5070
Meet Me At The JailhouseWizzard Brew
Buffalo Station/Get On
Down To Memphis
Wizzard Brew
Wear A Fast GunWizzard Brew
This Is The Story
Of My Love (Baby)
Introducing Eddy and the Falcons
Everyday I WonderIntroducing Eddy and the Falcons
Come Back KarenIntroducing Eddy and the Falcons
Main StreetMain Street
The Fire In His GuitarMain Street
Don'’t You Feel BetterMain Street

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Contributor: Ian Ashleigh

When he formed Wizzard, Roy Wood deliberately created a sound different to that of Electric Light Orchestra so as not to be seen as a direct rival. They debuted at a Rock ‘n’ Roll Festival at Wembley Stadium in August 1972. The singles had a ‘wall of sound’ feel to them and See My Baby Jive is Roy Wood’s tribute to Phil Spector. Each December, cheques come rolling in for the airplay of I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday which has charted at least ten times since 1973 when it reached No.4.

The albums were a different proposition.

Wizzard were a nine piece big band with a string and brass section augmenting the rock line-up of keyboards, guitars and drums. Roy Wood himself had become a multi-instrumentalist and a quality arranger. He had a vision of creating a jazz-rock album and had the personnel to deliver, that album was Wizzard Brew (1973). The original album had six tracks. Jolly Cup Of Tea is a military brass band style track and missed the cut in favour of the longer, more improvised, pieces. Meet Me At The Jailhouse is an intriguing mix of jazz improvisation and rock ‘n’ roll. It wasn’t what I was expecting having bought the singles and I wondered what others thought at the time. It occurred to me later that the singles may have been released to fund the album projects. Buffalo Station/Get On Down To Memphis continues the theme but is more accessible to the singles-trained ear and the rock ballad of Wear A Fast Gun points towards the style that Wood produced on his solo albums. The other tracks on the album were both out-and-out rock ‘n’ roll, all songs written and produced by Roy Wood.

The follow-up was envisaged as a double album, a rock ‘n’ roll pastiche and another jazz-rock album albeit with shorter tracks. The record company released it as a single album, the jazz rock disappeared until much later. Introducing Eddy and the Falcons (1974) is a joy on two sides of vinyl. It’s a gentle tribute to the bands and singers of the late 1950s and early 1960s. The album opens with a couple walking towards a gig and observing that Eddy is wearing a shirt identical to the male, you hear the music through the door, walk in and the album begins. Pure Roy Wood theatre! This Is The Story Of My Love (Baby) begins with a barrelhouse piano break before leading into a rock ‘n’ roll ballad. Everyday I Wonder is a tribute to (less kindly, a direct rip off of) Del Shannon’s Runaway and Come Back Karen is inspired by Neil Sedaka’s Oh Carol. The structure of the album and its title suggest this is Roy Wood trying to produce Sgt Pepper for rock ‘n’ roll.

The jazz-rock album languished until 2000 when Edsel released it under the title Main Street, attributing it to Roy Wood’s Wizzard. In truth, it could have been released as a Roy Wood solo album. There are eight tracks of varying styles and the three chosen, having listened to the album end to end again, I hope are representative. Main Street is a very saxophone led pop song that might have been written with a single release in mind. The Fire In His Guitar is a jazz-rock production over a rocking lyric and harks back to the material on Wizzard Brew. Don’t You Feel Better brings together everything you’ve just heard and seemed a fitting way to pause.

Wizzard split in late 1975 and Roy Wood concentrated on production, including Duke Of Earl for The Darts, and his solo releases …
 

Wizzard on Wikipedia

Roy Wood official website

Ian’s Roy Wood toppermost can be found here, his post on The Move here

TopperPost #203

2 Comments

  1. Peter Viney
    Feb 21, 2014

    No one’s commented yet because you said it so well, Ian. I Wish It Could be Christmas Everyday is technically a great piece of Spector style production, but except once a year, while decorating the tree with kids, I would happily never hear it again. It is in the top dozen Christmas songs, and I feel sorry for anyone working in a shop who has to listen to it about once an hour, every day from early November on. The only comment is that while Mr Wood’s annual cheque is probably gratifying, it will be on the previous December’s sales, not on the current one.

  2. Ian Ashleigh
    Feb 21, 2014

    Many thanks Peter. The first Wizzard single, Ball Park Incident, is a Move rock song overlaid with the Spector-esque wall of sound that became the trademark for the singles. I have to admit not knowing how or when the PRS distribute royalties so I will cede to your superior knowledge.

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