Tuesday, October 4, 2011

BOO!: The Move: "Night of Fear"

And appropriately, we have left the warm, hazy sunshine and stumbled into what seems to be its opposite - it's dark, it's windy, something - who knows what - is causing chills and hallucinations. What on earth has happened?

The Move came out of the tough Birmingham scene (whence previous MSBWT subject The Fortunes ["You've Got Your Troubles"] also came) and they wore their freak flags high. If you sense that these men - Roy Wood, Carl Wayne and later Jeff Lynne - were interested in bringing classical music into rock, you'd be absolutely right. In this case it's nothing less than Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, in specific the culminating part (best known to Americans as when the fireworks happen at Independence Day concerts). The Move had originally been a covers group (doing The Byrds, Motown, 50s rock 'n' roll - whatever appealed to them and their audience) and were already known for being outrageous onstage and off, with various things getting the literal axe, including a television, a Cadillac and a bust of Hitler. Their manager encouraged Roy Wood to write songs, and then they started to have hits, including this one.

What is happening here, clearly, is a bad trip. Paranoia is one of the natural side effects of mind-altering drugs, and with good reason. If you can't perceive what is going on around you accurately, then anything can become...anything, with possibly more than just scary consequences. Green and purple lights, cold blood and howling winds would make any ordinary night a night of fear, but there is nevertheless a jauntiness here that comes as a kind of security blanket, as if the band are saying that yes, some trips are going to be bad but you will survive them. How many heard the warning and understood it I am not sure; it could also serve as a general come-down song after the explosion of energies from '64-'66, that the past (represented by Tchaikovsky) can either be a hindrance or a comforting reminder, depending on how you hear it. Musicians are now listening to others and bringing their work in, and here we have a past master being dropped into the present, helping to jolly along a song about sheer terror.

Already the crossroads are present, confusing and misleading those who try to read the signs too quickly. Whimsy mixed with menace: the sinuous "Sunshine Superman" turns into the night when hobgoblins all too easily become apparent, Halloween happening way too soon. Psychedelia was starting to open up and reveal all kinds of things, good and bad. But could this fear be better than something else?

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