Though he’s comparatively unknown in the U.S., Roy Wood is an important figure in rock history. He founded and led The Move, a theatrical, melodic and hard-rocking band that scored hits in the UK, and he later co-founded Electric Light Orchestra. But Wood left ELO before that group started having hits, preferring to pursue his own wonderfully idiosyncratic musical path. Here are five must-hear tracks from Wood’s post-ELO days.
“You Can Dance the Rock ‘n’ Roll” from Wizzard Brew (1973)
Following on from the approach of early ELO, Wood formed Wizzard, a more adventurous and eccentric outfit. Presaging Jeff Lynne’s later forays into rock nostalgia, this tune combines vintage rock textures with some progressive and art-rock flavors.
“Songs of Praise” from Boulders (1973)
Concurrent with Wizzard, Roy Wood embarked on a solo career. Stylistically, there’s a lot of overlap between the two, but for his debut LP, Wood played all the instruments, did all the singing, writing, production and engineering. This peppy track – featuring massed sped-up vocals – is an exemplar of his studio technique.
“This Is the Story of My Love (Baby)” from Introducing Eddy and the Falcons (1974)
Wood created a fictional band to play his pastiches of 1950s and early ‘60s rock, and this loving tribute to the pre-Beatles era demonstrates his understanding of what made that music special. Released as a single in the UK, this Phil Spector-esque track made it to #34 on the British charts.
“Sneakin’” from Super Active Wizzo Band (1977)
Apparently solo albums and Wizzard records didn’t scratch all of Wood’s creative impulses. While the group didn’t last long, Super Active Wizzo explored Wood’s jazz inclinations. The album sold poorly, but it’s a fascinating (and characteristically odd) sonic excursion.
“I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday” (Wizzard single, 1973)
No roundup of Roy Wood’s work would be representative without including this track, a holiday classic that enjoys a well-deserved resurgence every December. The single has charted in the UK at least 19 times(!) since its release 49 years ago. It’s as quirky as anything in Wood’s catalog, but the guileless and joyous sentiments are undeniable. Sing along!
With a background in marketing and advertising, Bill Kopp got his professional start writing for Trouser Press. After a stint as Editor-in-chief for a national music magazine, Bill launched Musoscribe in 2009, and has published new content every business day since then (and every single day since 2018). The 4500-plus interviews, essays, and reviews on Musoscribe reflect Bill's keen interest in American musical forms, most notably rock, jazz, and soul. His work features a special emphasis on reissues and vinyl. Bill's work also appears in many other outlets both online and in print. He regularly hosts lecture/discussions on artists and albums of historical importance (including monthly events Music to Your Ears and Music Movie Mondays), and is a frequent guest on music-focused radio programs and podcasts. In Spring 2023 he taught a history of Rock 'n' Roll at UNC Asheville's College for Seniors. He also researches and authors liner notes for album reissues -- more than 30 to date -- and co-produced a reissue of jazz legend Julian "Cannonball" Adderley's final album. His first book, Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to The Dark Side of the Moon was published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2018, and in paperback in 2019. His second book, Disturbing the Peace: 415 Records and the Rise of New Wave, was published in 2021 by HoZac Books. His third book, What's the Big Idea: Great Concept Albums will be published in 2024. Read even more about him here.