on track Roy Wood

book review

December 2020

I wish it could be Christmas every day

A Nailsea music buff has penned an authoritative book about pop legend Roy Wood.

Author James R Turner describes himself on his Facebook page as a ‘word-wrangler, amateur gardener, the prog pickler and Yorkshire cultural ambassador’ so he wasn’t Nailsea born and bred.

On his blog James says: “I have been writing about music for the Classic Rock Society since 1994.

“I am a founder writer and continue to contribute features about Englishness for Albion Magazine Online and I write about and review progressive rock albums for both Progarchy and the Progradar, until recently I also contributed to the DPRP (Dutch Progressive Rock Pages).

“I have also contributed to two books about television fantasy You & Who: Contact Has Been Made and You And Who Else as well as having written for the BBC website.

“I also briefly reviewed TV programmes for The Digital Fix like The Musketeers, Inside Number 9, This Is Jinsy and The 7:39.

James also writes poetry does PR for Bad Elephant Music and has a day job working in a bank.

With fiancée Charlotte the couple have lived since February 2018 at Valleyway Road with their two dogs, three cats and a huge collection of CDs and vinyl records.

Nailsea is becoming the natural habitat of many published authors with writers of every genre settling in town.

Perhaps when this pandemic is over we should launch our own arts festival to rival Hay-on-Wye; bigger and better than the one or two we had in the 1980s?

My own memories of the The Move are hazy – like most of the 60s – but I did see them perform in February 1967 at High Wycombe Town Hall and boy were they loud although not as loud at The Who who played in April that year.

I like dancing more than that listening, so I asked my husband to review this book which says on its blurb:

‘From the heart of the country, and the vibrant musical scene that rotated around Britain's second-largest city Birmingham in the mid-1960s, came a plethora of creative rock groups.

Roy Wood, together with several other well-known Birmingham faces, left their respective bands to form The Move, an innovative group due to Roy's distinctive song-writing style, and the bands unique vocal harmonies.

They became regulars on famed British TV show Top of the Pops and had the first ever single to be played on BBC Radio 1.

Meanwhile, in Birmingham, Roy's replacement in the Nightriders, Jeff Lynne, had formed a band of his own - The Idle Race - taking Lynne's musical vision into more psychedelic territories.

These two brilliant songwriters were also close friends, and Wood persuaded Lynne to join the Move followed by a new project, the Electric Light Orchestra, before a parting of the ways led to Wood forming Wizzard.

This book examines the music recorded by Roy Wood as a solo artist, plus The Move, early ELO and Wizzard, while an appendix also covers the three albums recorded by the Idle Race.Taking in genres such as rhythm and blues, psychedelic pop, progressive rock and glam, this masterful - often unsung - songwriter and musician helped set the musical blueprint for the early 70s.’

SANTA CLAUS IS ON HIS WAY: 114 pages with 16 in colour this paperback is on sale for £14.99. It can be ordered online from WH Smith at a discounted price of £11.99 but sadly delivery will not in time for Christmas 2020

My first memory of Roy Wood was as a 18 year old, back in 1973, watching Wizzard performing I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday on Top of The Pops.

That image of Roy prancing around the stage with his white beard, covered in fake snow will stay with me forever.

As a lifelong fan of The Who and The Stones I confess that I struggle to recall many tracks from The Move’s back catalogue.

The track I do recall is Flowers In The Rain which as all hardcore music fans know, is the very first record played on the newly created Radio 1 back in 1967.

What I was unaware of was the amazing backstory to this track. As James Turner reveals in his meticulously researched and lovingly crafted book Roy Wood, The Move, ELO & Wizzard, Roy Wood has not received a single penny for penning one of the most famous songs in the history of pop music.

The manager of The Move, Tony Secunda, decided to promote the single, by issuing a postcard advert, which including a scurrilous rumour about a relationship between the then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson and his personal secretary, Marcia Williams.

Mr Wilson was displeased, suing the band and causing them to forfeit all royalties from the track, in perpetuity to charities of his choosing.

This is just one of the fascinating revelations to be found in this book where the author chronicles every song written by Roy in his musical career encompassing The Move, The Electric Light Orchestra, Wizzard & Helicopters as well as his solo albums.

Each track is lovingly analysed in terms of its musical arrangements as well as providing the storyline behind the lyrics.

An ideal present for any lover of British pop music.

Bob Deacon