Band members Related acts
line up 1
- Roy Wood -- vocals, guitar, bass, drums, percussion, sax, tuba,
supporting musicians: (1976)
- Phil Everly (RIP) -- backing vocals
- Annie Haslam -- backing vocals
- Dick Plant -- backing vocals
- Rick Price -- backing vocals
line up 2 (1977) as Wizzo
- Dave Donovan -- drums, percussion
- Graham Gallery -- bass
- Billy Paul -- sax
- Rick Price (RIP 2022) -- guitar, bass, pedal steel guitar
- Paul Robbins -- keyboards, backing vocals
- Bob Wilson -- trombone
- The Eric Bell Band (Dave Donovan)
- Birmingham (Billy Paul)
- The Blueshounds (Graham Gallery)
- The Cimmarons (Rick Price)
- Electric Light Orchestra (Rick Price and Roy Wood)
- Fable (Paul Robbins)
- Mongrel (Rick Price)
- The Move (Rick Price and Roy Wood)
- The Brian Newton Orchestra (Graham Gallery)
- Nottingham Jazz Orchestra (Bob Wilson)
- Rick Price (solo efforts)
- Mike Sheridan and the Night Riders
- Sheridan - Price (Rick Price)
- Sight and Sound (Rick Price)
- Wizzard (Rick Price and Roy Wood)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Company: Jet/United Artists
Country/State: Birmingham, UK
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: gatefold sleeve; cur top right corner
Catalog ID: 2723
People talk about solo albums all the time. Well, here's the real thing. Roy Wood was responsible for about 95% of everything association with 1975's "Mustard". He wrote all the material; played all the instruments, handled almost all of the vocals; produced; arranged; engineered; and even drew and designed the striking album cover. His only assistance - Phil Everly, girlfriend Annie Haslam, Dick Plant, and former Move compatriot Rick Price providing some backing vocals (the later two also helping with engineering the album).
So, if you were a big fan of The Move, or the first couple of Electric Light Orchestra albums (before they became a hit making platform for Jeff Lynne), then there was a strongly chance these nine Wood originals were going to strike a chord with you. I'm a big fan of both those bands, so I have a deep appreciation for Wood's instantly recognizable voice. Exemplified by songs like 'Any Old Time Will Do', 'The Rain Came Down On Everything' and 'The Song', the mix of Wood's knack for commercial material (including an abiding love for The Beach Boys), coupled with his classical influences gave the set an instant appeal. Nah, it wasn't perfect. The title track was a throwaway '40s influenced tune that seemed there to show he could do a passable Andrews Sisters impersonation (why he would want to prove that is a different issue). Released as a single, 'Look Thru' the Eyes of a Fool' had a similarly lame '50s feel. Still, the winning performances far outnumbered the throwaways ...
"Mustard" track listing:
1.) Mustard (Roy Wood) - 1:28 rating: * star
The title track started the album off in a typically bizarre Wood fashion - namely a '40 Andrews Sisters-styled pop tune that was apparently actually intended as an homage to the condiment. The song was even recorded with that old-fashioned, low-fi sound. Just plain weird.
2.) Any Old Time Will Do (Roy Wood) - 4:13 rating; **** stars
Anyone who doubted Wood's capacity to craft a stunning, commercial pop tune should check out the glorious ballad 'Any Old Time Will Do'. Even more impressive, this was a true one man show, right down to the goose bump inducing slide guitar solo at the end of the song. United Artists tapped the song as a single:
- 1975's 'Any Old Time Will Do' b/w 'The Rain Came Down On Everything' (Jet catalog number JET 785)
3.) The Rain Came Down On Everything (Roy Wood) - 6:35 rating; **** stars
Geez, interesting to hear Wood out-Jeff Lynne on the heart-tearing ballad 'The Rain Came Down On Everything'. Yeah, it was a little over-the-top in terms of sentimentality, but it was certainly a pretty composition. Complete with sound effects, aound the 3:30 mark the song started to move into an ELO direction. Wife Annie Haslam was featured on backing vocals.
4.) You Sure Got It Now (Roy Wood) - 5:34 rating: *** stars
Geez, it started out sounded like a video game soundtrack going insane and then morphed back into '30s girl group pop (the vocals were Wood through some sort of effect). Again, with Wood responsible for everything on the song, technically it was quite impressive; not to say it was a particularly enjoyable performance. And then you got to the halfway mark and the tune morphed into something out of the Zeppelin catalog (if Robert Plant were singing after suffering from a laughing gas overdose). Woods' big drum sound was simply amazing on this track.
1.) Why Does Such a Pretty Girl Sing Such Sad Songs (Roy Wood) - 4:34 rating; **** stars
Every wondered what stoned-era Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys would have sounded like had they been born and raised in Birmingham rather than Southern California ? Probably not, but the sweet ballad 'Why Does Such a Pretty Girl Sing Such Sad Songs' would give you a good idea. This was the kind of solo work Brian could only dream about producing. A truly stunning vocal arrangement - you had to wonder how long it took would to record the elaborate vocal arrangements. Wonder if it was inspired by main squeeze Haslam ?
2.) The Song (Roy Wood) - 6:40 rating; **** stars
The classically inspired opening piano has always reminded me of something off ELO's "Face the Music". Little bit J.S. Bach in the mix? Regardless, one of his finest works.
3.) Look Thru' the Eyes of a Fool (Roy Wood) - 2:55 rating: ** stars
With kind of a derivative '50s pastiche, I can't say 'Look Thru' the Eyes of a Fool' was a favorite, but the song had appeal to some folks on the United Artists marketing staff since they tapped it as a single in Germany and the UK.
- 1975's 'Look Thru' the Eyes of a Fool' b/w 'Strider' (Jet catalog number JET 761) YouTube also has a clip of Wood lip synching the tune (with a slightly different mix), on the Mike Mansfield hosted English Supersonic television program: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxDSsIHzAFQ
4.) Interlude (Roy Wood) - 1:28 rating; **** stars
It was little more than a song fragment, but the wordless vocal arrangement simply dripped Beach Boys influences ... well, until the bagpipes kicked in. That made it even more interesting (if strange).
5.) Get On Down Home (Roy Wood) - 7:35 rating: *** stars
Wood showing off his rock credential ... The guitars sounded like he'd swiped them off a 10cc album. And damn if the drums weren't loud on this one. Not sure the extended solo was really necessary.
For some reason United opted to repackage the album for Australian audiences. Adding 'O What a Shame' and 'Rock 'n' Roll Winter' to the track listing, the collection was released as 1977's "The Wizzard".
Rating: 4 stars ****
Title: Super Active Wizzo
Company: Warner Brothers
Country/State: Birmingham, UK
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: UK pressing
Catalog ID: --
Say what you will about Roy Wood, but the man is not afraid to chase his muses. Following the end of his Wizzard explorations, Wood slowed down his life, focusing on songwriting and his personal life. In 1977 Wood announced formation The Roy Wood Wizzo Band. Unlike his earlier solo catalog, this entity found him accompanied by a large group of musicians, including the late Wizzard alumnus Rick Price and a two piece brass section. Wizzo also found him delving into a jazz-oriented sound.
Produced and arranged by Wood, 1977's "Super Active Wizzo" was certainly different. Sure tracks like the opener 'Life Is Wonderful' and 'Waitin' At This Door' included some jazzy influences, but Wood was born to write and perform pop music and there was no way he could eradicate those tendencies from his DNA. While sax player Billy Paul (Wood also played sax) and trombonist Bob Wilson were prominent on several tracks, the biggest difference I heard in tunes like the rocking opener 'Life Is Wonderful', the Zeppelin-esque 'Sneakin'' and the disco-tinged 'Another Wrong Night' were the running times. The shortest selection 'Waitin' At This Doors' clocked in just short of six minutes - far longer than your standard Roy Wood pop ditty. Initially confused by the collection, I have to tell you it has grown on me over the years. Though several songs overstayed their welcome and were cluttered with needless repetition, drums solos, etc., the longer song structures actually suited Wood's eclectic creativity. And as anyone who has glanced through the BadCatRecords site knows, I like quirky. Critics certainly didn't agree with my assessment, largely panning the album. Wood's record label wasn't sure what to make of the album and didn't even bother to release it in the States. In the wake of poor reviews and even poorer sales plans for a tour to support the album were dropped. Roy Wood's Wizzo Band quickly came to an end.
Active Wizzo" track listing:
1.) Life Is Wonderful (Roy Wood) - 8:37 rating: *** stars
Anyone stumbling into the Wizzo project after Wood's Move, ELO, and earlier solo efforts was bound to wonder what was going on. Admittedly while most of the track was instrumental, the brief vocal section featured one of Wood's nicest performances. With the Dave Donovan and Graham Gallery rhythm section laying down a heavy metal foundation, Wood contributed some Zeppelin-styled lead guitar. It was all dressed up in a jazzy big band horn arrangement that recalled Blood, Sweat & Tears padding their retirement with a Las Vegas showcase.
2.) Waitin' At This Door (Roy Wood) - 5:48 rating: *** stars
'Waitin' At This Door' opened up with a horn arrangement that recalled something out of the Canterbury school of progressive rock. Naturally Wood couldn't write and record a song without a catchy melody and this time around the result sounded like something that had been recorded by Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention. Plenty of weird time signatures; Rick Price's pedal-steel guitar, and plenty of horns going off in all tangents, and a nice melody buried in the aural wreckage. An edited version of the song appeared as the "B" side to Wood's 'Dancin' At the Rainbow's End' solo single. This was one of the tunes the band played on their April 1977 appearance on the BBC's Sight and Sound In Concert series. The sound and video quality are poor, but YouTube has a clip of the performance at: Roy Wood Wizzo - Waiting at This Door (2 of 11) - YouTube
3.) Another Wrong Night (Roy Wood) - 11:15 rating: **** stars
Released in 1977, I guess it shouldn't be a surprise that then popular musical trends would work their way into Wood's creative world. In this case 'Another Wrong Night' managed to inject some disco flavors into the main theme. Also worth listening to were Graham Gallery's hyperactive bass line and those punch horns. Yes, clocking in at over eleven minutes, completed with an extended Dave Donovan drum solo, the track overstayed its welcome, but hearing Wood's ageless voice was a pleasure and the track underscored what an overlooked guitarist he was. YouTube has the song's BBC Sight and Sound performance, though it's divided into two sections: Roy Wood Wizzo - Another Wrong Night (pt1) (6 of 11) - YouTube and Roy Wood Wizzo - Another Wrong Night (pt2) (7 of 11) - YouTube
1.) Sneakin' (Roy Wood) - 6:25 rating: **** stars
Imagine Plant and Page scratching an jazzy itch. That'll give you a feel for the hard-rocking 'Sneakin' ... And then Wood's pop addiction kicked in via the blissful chorus. It sounds likes like an aural train wreck and it is, but Wood somehow managed to make it engaging. YouTube has the 1977 Sight and Sound performance, though it's interesting to note bassist Graham Gallery introduced the tune under the name 'Sneakin' Round the Corner.' The horns were also way more prominent in the live performance.
2.) Giant Footsteps (Jubilee) (Roy Wood - Annie Haslam - Dave Donvan) - 5:59 rating: ** stars
The funky instrumental 'Giant Footsteps (Jubilee)' was interesting as the album's lone collaboration - in this case Wood working with wife Annie Harlam and drummer Donovan. Musically it was the album's most pedestrian work showcasing something you might bin as adult contemporary funk. I can imagine this playing in the background while you were waiting for an airline to confirm they'd cancelled your flight without telling you. Wood subsequently re-purposed the tune as the slip side of the forthcoming solo single 'Keep Your Hands On the Wheel.'
3.) Earthrise (Roy Wood - Dick Plant) - 11:22 rating: **** stars
Well it started out sounding like one of the mid-'70s new age albums and then the Zeppelin-esque heaviness landed on what was one of Wood's prettiest ballads. It was also one of those songs that drilled into your head and would not leave. Awesome way to end the album, even though it went on four over eleven minutes.
The Wizzo catalog also includes a pair of non-LP singles. The first was released prior to the "Super Active Wizzo" album and the second after the album's release.
- 1977's 'The Stroll' b/w 'Jubilee' (Warner Brothers catalog number K16961)
- 1978's 'Dancin' At the Rainbow's End' b/w 'Waitin' At This Door' (Warner Brothers catalog number K17094)
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