Wood: jamming with the Beach Boys

"Iíve been more than pleased with the audience reaction here in America. Weíve never toured here before, and when a lot of people shout out numbers from, "Eddy And The Falcons", and Wizzard singles it really feels great," revealed Wizzard singer-songwriter-leader, Roy Wood, reflecting on his initial tour of America.

With the Move, Roy did a brief tour of the States in 1969. Itís been five years since the U.S. has seen the man, who at the toss of a coin can be Neil Sedaka, Brian Wilson, Phil Spector and himself rolled into one.

In his hotel room we talked about his stellar concert the night before at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, as well as the various television shows that heís taped the last few days.

Trying to keep everything in perspective, Roy talked at length evaluating todayís music scene and his own past, present, and future plans.
"I like the audiences here a bit more than England. On our last tour there, we had to tone down our show quite a lot. We came off on TV (Top Of The Pops) like a circus act.

"After exposure like that the people who came to see us were 50 and 60 year olds with their children. We couldnít play jazz any more on stage, mainly perform our hit records.

"In America we get a chance to play what we feel like doing; things with bagpipes, and sax solos. Itís the sense of freedom that makes it all worthwhile.

"Weíve played some great gigs on this tour, especially in New Jersey. Since it was our first show, I couldnít believe how the crowd was for us. They were really giving 100 per cent. Iíve found that in the States, the live concert is more than playing hit singles. Itís a chance to show musical evolvement."

Wood seems to be one of the few contemporary artists who has a grasp of what "pop music" is all about. He truly utilises dynamics and energy to its fullest extent. Woodís view of singles exemplifies this point quite clearly.

"The whole point in making single records is to sell and get a hit with it. I feel that you should put out the most commercial song that you can write.

"The type of song the milkman can walk down the street and whistle. With an album, you can let people know that you can play instruments. I donít sit down and write a song for a particular market. I like to write whatever comes out."

His stage show featured marvellously effective uses of old material. He performed "California Man," with a riff of "Brontosaurus," thrown in. He also debuted a new tune, "Sheíll Be Home," a soft acoustic song with the rest of Wizzard helping him on flutes and bells instead of saxophones and drums.

"I did the song so the people would get a break from the heavy rock and jazz we play. It may be on my next solo album called, "Mustard."

"Iíve got eight tracks already done. On this album, Iíd try to make the music as varied as possible. Itís really great playing with different styles. One song sounds a bit like the Andrews Sisters backed by John Mayall.

"Then there are some Spector-like productions with my own voice acting like a 100 piece choir.

"Thereís even a song that I wrote for the Move that I never got a chance to use. Itís a solo album in the true sense of the word, not one with the best session men in the world all over it."

Last week Roy and his saxophone players, Nick Pentelow and Mike Burney went down to the Beach Boys studio and did some tracks with Brian and Carl Wilson. Itís not every day that one can play with and jam with their idols.

"Brian rang me up when he found out I was in town. I was knocked out to hear from him. We did some sax things that I arranged for one song. Brian also needed a drummer, so I ended up playing the drums too, not very good I may add. Carl was an incredible cat to work with, too."

On record, or on stage, Roy plays a variety of instruments. Wild rock sounds come from his custom shovel guitar, while soft melodic passages fill the air when he plays his acoustic. On his Ď74 tour of America, saxophone and bagpipes were also incorporated.

"I enjoy most of the instruments I play, but itís the bass I like best. Iíve always been bass orientated, when I listen to a record, I listen to the bass end first."
The American media is finally discovering Roy Wood. Heís still cast as a member of the Move as long as former employers reissue his past product while he strives to go forward.

"Most of the interviews Iíve done in America have been about the old days. The Move had quite a lot of fans here. A die-hard lot. A lot of the reissues and best of repackages I feel arenít the best of the Move, really.

"I feel they could have put better tracks on. We did ĎCalifornia Maní this tour. It was suggested by management. The rest of the band wanted to play it. On stage I tried to recreate the record. It was a bit hard sounding like Jeff Lynne in some parts," says Roy.

The press has been very nasty to both Roy and Jeff regarding Woodís departure from ELO. Their friendship has been strained by the constant barrage of periodical writers asking Roy why he left ELO and what he thinks of Jeff, creating a rift that was never there. "I go back a long time with Jeff. Before I left for this tour, I spent the weekend at his house. He played me the back tracks off the new album, "Eldorado." It was the closest thing to what I thought ELO should be. Really good. We get on very well."

Roy Wood is a very busy man. A trip back to America is planned for February, as well as some strong possibilities and offers to work with people heíd dreamed of.

"Iím in a bit of a strange position with the recording commitments Iíve got. I donít get a chance to have much free time. Iíve turned great people down. I donít want to promise to do something and not be able to do it.

"In England I have to do two albums a year, plus two singles, for Harvest. Two albums and singles for Warners also. Thatís a lot of work if you go out on the road as well.

"I will be doing some sessions with Neil Sedaka. He asked me to produce his next album. I also had a meeting with Ronnie Spector, she asked me if I was interested in producing the Ronettes. That would be great.

"About Christmas time Iím hoping to do a solo concert at the Royal Festival Hall. it will be recorded for a live album. It will be with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Iím really looking forward to doing it. IíII do some of my personal favourites over the years. Songs like "Blackberry Way", up to the present.

"Iím influenced by everything, since I grew up with a musically minded family. I almost had it rammed down my throat every day, but I enjoyed it."
Music has always been Roy Woodís destination. "Iíve never gone in any direction other than music. Iíd like my own recording studio. Iíd really like to write film music."

The night before, Wood and Wizzard proved that new and innovative things could work in the context of rock. The showís highlight was a flawless rendition of "See My Baby Jive," that stood well against the full instrumental backing.

Encore time was "Buffalo Station-Goiní Down To Memphis." Tchaikovskyís Nutcracker suite was well accepted by the audience.

As a performer Roy Wood is now gaining the success he richly deserves. In concert, at his hotel room, or at the local record store looking for new discs. itís very evident that something is brewiní from Roy Wood and Wizzard.