The Move—
California Man / Do Ya / Ella James

Released 1972 on Harvest
The Seth Man, May 2024ce
The Move’s final album, MESSAGE FROM THE COUNTRY, saw the group hamstrung from within by a mélange of styles. Namely, “Come Together”-paced plod and frivolous music hall selections topped off by the further woozy but delightful whimsies of Roy Wood into a galaxy of engaging but nonplussing agrarian Glam Rock moves, E-Presley montages (Ur-Wizzard risin’), country blues, and the odd “Bolero” vamp. Taking many cues refracted from multiple spins of ABBEY ROAD, The Pretty Things’ PARACHUTE as well as contemporary Dylan and Beach Boys records, it was an incoherent mess of too many ideas nimbly arranged and accurately played through a dense layer of treacle. Which isn’t meant to cast The Move in a negative light -- Not least of all because their earlier “Brontosaurus” single provided a perfect template for Speed, Glue & Shinki on their first album to trudge amply through reality slow as fuck.

During 1970-1971, both The Move and Electric Light Orchestra co-existed in an in-between zone while the core trio of Roy Wood, Jeff Lynne, and Bev “Basher” Bevan were still recording as The Move. Wood, a creative version of a Russian nesting doll who switched between The Move and Electric Light Orchestra, was finally “persuaded” by his manager to quit ELO in order to concentrate on Wizzard. While he did, he also sporadically worked on recording and writing material for his stunning debut solo album, BOULDERS, which finally saw release in 1973.

In the middle of 1972, The Move bid farewell with total class with a final record: the “California Man” maxi single coupled with the double B-side, “Do Ya” and “Ella James.” Despite the fact that the two Wood compositions are quite good, memorable, covered by Cheap Trick (and forgotten by everybody else), it is Jeff Lynne’s “Do Ya” that really shines on. In fact, it doth shone so hard, it wound up re-recorded on ELO’s sixth record, their chart topping A NEW WORLD RECORD and wound up clambering up the US charts four years after the estimable Greg Shaw proclaimed it “single of the year” in CREEM.

“Do Ya” is an uncomplicated romp through rough stop-and-start guitar, Dylanised run-on lyrics over a thumping Glam Rock beat with George Harrisonian slide guitar accenting. Sound like an unwanted mélange? Yeah, until you hear it because to put it as simply as the song, “Do Ya” is astonishing. It doesn’t resemble any of the other tracks Jeff Lynne had been contributing to The Move since 1970, and it was one refreshing blast of Rock back in 1972 when first issued. Its basic nature and simple, blaring guitars like 1974 Sweet playing 1966 Troggs with THAT basic, stop-and-start, rudimentary as fuck guitar combined with quizzical lyrics whose meaning are propelled by vocal phrasing and arrangement alone? Dammit. And that bizarre bridge about “just to feel, to touch her long black hair / They don’t give a damn”? If it was two steps faster and had twice as much distortion, it could’ve been on SWEET FANNY ADAMS. But that bridge is one portage as the Wood-Lynne-Bevan motorboat sails smoothly through backyards, backstreets, a wedding party, and then lands squarely back again upon the Troggsian ocean. Where they then start all over again to start and stop, all start-and-stop, start-and-stop.

Recorded on the same multi-reel tapes alongside “From the Sun To The World” and “In Old England Town” (the two songs on the second Electric Light Orchestra album, ELO 2, that Roy Wood appeared on) it’s strange to consider that the recording of “Do Ya” was mainly to generate capital for the embryonic Electric Light Orchestra and by a simple twist of fate… It did. Four years later, it was re-recorded by Lynne and Bevan inside a whole new septet for ELO’s massively successful A NEW WORLD RECORD album. Prior to this, “Do Ya” had laid dormant since issued on United Artists in the USA (and subsequently flipped to the A-side when it proved more popular with radio DJs) and then again in 1974 in the UK on Harvest. It would be The Move’s only charting American single, peaking at number 93 on the Billboard charts. But vindication came in early 1977 when “Do Ya” was issued as an Electric Light Orchestra single in the USA, where it triumphantly peaked at #24 on Billboard. This occurred on April 2, 1977, nearly five years to the day of its initial release on April 12, 1972 as a Move single.

Note: Just wanted to clear the air because back in 1977, my copy of the debut ELO album in the US, NO ANSWER (named because an American secretary at United Artists reached out on the telephone for LP title information and upon receiving a busy signal, reported it thusly) had on its label the hard to ignore three-line credit: “MOVE ENTERPRISES LTD. PRESENTS THE SERVICES OF THE ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA.” Oh. So...were they on loan, or something? There was only one Move album I ever saw as an American youth and that was the double THE BEST OF THE MOVE on A&M. It was a bright yellow sleeve with an illustration of a moving van parked in back of a muscular mover with arms crossed. It looked like the AMMUSIC album, only with the truck pointed the other way. I passed.