Super Active Wizzo

Gruntiness, that’s what it comes down to.

Remember how Roy Wood was the first guy to make the cello, sombre undertone in string quartets and classical orchestras, into a genuine pop instrument full of guts and aggression? It happened because he couldn't play it. So he picked it up and started to make sound like Ted Nugent's original punk – the savage who finds a guitar washed up on a beach and starts to thrash away at it. The result was gruntiness and it was very pleasing.

But Roy Wood's latest instrument is a whole jazz big band line-up. The problem he posed himself, though he may not have recognised it, was how to keep that fresh and primitive attack in a setting which seems to demand a high level of sophistication to avert complete chaos. And at last he has failed to find an answer that keeps him in touch with the pop climate as he has contrived to do through all his previous experiments. More important, the faults of 'Super Active Wizzo' are not just a matter of coming adrift from fashion – musically it really doesn't make it.

Roy Wood's approach is to set Dave Donovan to playing the heaviest of four-square drums which he does with will and skill, occasionally support him with his old earthquaking bass and guitar sound from 'Brontosaurus', and lay fairly orthodox horn and jazz-tinged guitar scorings over the top.

Snatches of his multi-tracked Beach Boys harmonies, a hoedown and Waikiki aloha guitar add a little spice but essentially his usual catchy three-minute tunes can't stand the strain of being stretched out.

Roy Wood's music has never expressed much emotion but it has been exciting, clever and funny. 'Super Active Wizzo' is staid, predictable and dull.

Sounds, 29 October 1977