Mustard is no hot stuff

ROY WOOD "Mustard" (Jet Records JET LP 12, 2310 418. All instruments played by Roy Wood. Guest appearances on vocals on "Get On Down Home" by Phil Everly and "The Rain Came Down" by Annie Haslam. Written, arranged and produced by Roy Wood. Recorded at De Lane Lea and Phonogram studios.

ABOUT a year ago, an album called "Startin' Over" by an American band called The Raspberries was released. It gave a pretty precise account of the history of pop music, with blatant copies of The Beatles, Stones and Who among others.

The funny thing was that, though it was quite a tongue-in-cheek operation, it worked as a genuine attempt at trying to capture the mood of the period the writers wanted to recall. Roy Wood seems to have wanted to do the same on his opus magnum but, in the overall context, his album falls into a slot of obscurity, probably because he did not show as great a sensitivity in what he was attempting to recreate as the Raspberries did. All of which is very strange as Wood was right in there in the thick of it when the whole scene was growing.

The problem for Roy seems to be that there is no deliberate structure to his album when there should be, as, when it boils down to it, "Mustard" is basically a concept album. Whether it be autobiographical, recalling Wood's own past, or his testament to rock and roll, it is essentially about the history of music in one way or another.

It's a pity, then, that Wood could not set a more definite mood for the material he has written, for this record contains some of the best work he has done in recent years. "Any Old Time Will Do" is a great number in the mould of the Move at their best, with Wood summoning all the charm that was a characteristic of that band.

Wood also captures the attractive sound of the Andrews Sisters to good effect on the title track, "Mustard" and "You Sure Got It Now." The latter is a weird song, with traces of the Moody Blues in its intro and Roy's old friends The Electric Light Orchestra, in its arrangement. Wood effectively deals with multi-harmony sound of the Beach Boys on "Why Does Such A Pretty Girl Sing Those Sad Songs?" It's like something from the "Surf's Up" era.

"The Song" is so much like middle-of-the-roader Vince Hill that it's untrue. While "Look Thru The Eyes Of A Fool" has Wood pulling out all the stops to produce a snappy, commercial song, it's really a pity that the individual good taste of those songs is lost when the album is treated as a whole. Maybe Roy Wood spent just a little too long getting the whole thing together and got a little paranoid about what he had done. The best thing about the album, however, is that Roy seems to have given up his hopes of writing and recording the definitive Fifties' rock and roll song. That is, indeed, something to he thankful for. H.D.

 

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