Friday, 14 December 2018

Forever Wizzard: The Success of Roy Wood's Christmas Classic

It's widely known that Slade's festive single "Merry Xmas Everyone" beat Roy Wood and Wizzard to the coveted #1 spot in the UK Singles Chart during Christmas 1973. Many folks presume that Wizzard made #2 that year but "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday" actually peaked at #4 whilst Roy's solo single "Forever" (HAR5078) was holding its own at #11 at the same time, later to peak at #8 in January 1974.

Yours Truly KJS thinx that the main reason for Wizzard not challenging Slade more closely at the chart summit lies with the aborted release of IWICBCE via Warner Bros. (K16336) whereupon it was deemed in breach of their recording contract with EMI/Harvest and subsequently released weeks later on the Harvest label (HAR5079) with some copies sporting a Harvest sticker. Both issues were backed by "Rob Roy's Nightmare (A Bit More H.A.)", an instrumental track credited to Mike Burney. Perhaps the fact that there were two Roy Wood penned songs released at the same time was another factor as was the fact that the Top 12 was also occupied by such big selling artistes as Gary Glitter, The New Seekers, Marie Osmond, Alvin Stardust, Leo Sayer, David Essex, Mott The Hoople, Roxy Music and T.Rex meaning that the competition was stiff. You may be surprised to read that Elton John's "Step Into Christmas" stalled at #24 to underline just how competitive it was.
Christmas 1973 UK Top 12 Singles (Source:
Wizzard's "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday" therefore has something in common with ELO's 1983 album "Secret Messages" (JETLX527). Both peaked at #4 in their respective charts, both might be seen as underachieving in chart terms yet both ultimately performed relatively well when compared with the competition at the time. Note also that Wizzard have outperformed Slade in the Christmas chart on many occasions since 1973. Why not read these related elobeatlesforever (elobf) articles for further information on the above?

Christmas Classics: How Wizzard & Slade Compare
Secret Messages: More Successful Than You Think

This article has been developed from a suggestion by my good friend John Collins.

Until next "Time" in the ELO [and related] Universe ... KJS ... 14-Dec-2018

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Caught Live (9): ELO Again @ The Robin 07/12/18

A ninth opportunity for Yours Truly KJS to go see South Wales septet ELO Again perform the music of the Electric Light Orchestra - again - at The Robin 2 was not be missed on Friday night (7th December) as a healthy audience were taken on another musical journey through classic ELO all the way through from debut hit "10538 Overture" to 1986's "Calling America" and sampling every studio album from "The Electric Light Orchestra" (or "No Answer" in the US) to "Balance Of Power" in the process.

A lot has changed since elobeatlesforever (elobf) first reviewed an ELO Again gig back in November 2013 with only cellist Sion Dafydd Dawson an ever present (they're in good company as this is also the case with Jeff Lynne and ELO these days). Yet, on the basis of this performance and the reaction of those assembled, ELO Again have developed an entertaining tribute to Birmingham's best. In the 51 weeks since their last visit to Bilston, the obvious difference in the band to seasoned followers was new singer/guitarist Joel Jordan, who seemed to enjoy his West Midlands bow combining his vocals with some nice guitar work whilst working an enthusiastic crowd into several bouts of Black Country banter. The only tweak in the set from last time was the inclusion of "Strange Magic" in lieu of "When I Was A Boy" and this made for an impressive foray through those hit (UK) singles we all know and love plus "Do Ya" and "Tightrope". Fave moments for me were their renditions of the aforementioned "Calling America" and "Tightrope".

Given the growing pool of ELO tribute acts in the UK these days, I think any ensuing competition will only benefit the paying public and fans. On the other hand, I also strongly believe that each tribute has its own identity and uniqueness. Would I go see ELO Again - again? I think so.

ELO Again performed: "Tightrope" ~ "Evil Woman" ~ "Livin' Thing" ~ "Can't Get It Out Of My Head" ~ "Confusion" ~ "Hold On Tight" ~ "10538 Overture" ~ "Wild West Hero" ~ "Showdown" ~ "Sweet Talkin' Woman" ~ "The Diary Of Horace Wimp" ~ "Calling America" ~ "All Over The World" +++ "Twilight" ~ "Do Ya" ~ "Strange Magic" ~ "Shine A Little Love" ~ "Last Train To London" ~ "Telephone Line" ~ "Rock 'n' Roll Is King" ~ "Turn To Stone" ~ "Rockaria!" ~ "Mr. Blue Sky" ~ "Don't Bring Me Down" ~ "Roll Over Beethoven"
ELO Again were: Joel Jordan (Guitar/Lead Vocals) + Mike McGibney (Bass Guitar/Vox) + Andy Smith (Musical Director/Synths/Keys/Vox) + Pete Burrows (Piano/Keys/Vocoder) + Matt Weston (Drums) + Ruth Alice Potts (Violin/Vox) + Sion Dafydd Dawson (Cello/Guitar/Vox)

Midlands based ELO based fans will have another opportunity to see ELO Again soon when they land at Lichfield's Garrick Theatre on Friday 11th January 2019. Limited tickets can be purchased via this link thus:

Find out more about ELO Again and their show via their official web site thus:

elobeatlesforever (elobf) recommends ELO Again to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELOJeff LynneRoy WoodWizzardThe MoveThe Idle Race'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO [and related] Universe ... KJS ... 09-Dec-2018

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Caught Live (14): Roy Wood's Rockmas 2018

Roy Wood, his band and his many guests literally rock and rolled back the years on Sunday night (2nd December) to orchestrate another top class evening of festive entertainment in front over 2,000 appreciative fans at Birmingham's prestigious Symphony Hall. With local swing supremos King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys, returning comedian Mick Miller, Mark King, Alfie Boe, The Enigma Strings on the bill, Yours Truly KJS and elobeatlesforever (elobf) had an feeling that this would be a memorable night with such a varied if not inspired cast - and so it proved to be.

The first act on stage were King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys and they used their forty five minutes to great effect as the six piece swing and boogie outfit - including saxophonist Big John 'Boysey' Battrum on double duty - kept everyones feet tapping with a polished performance, the highlight of which being their interpretations of "Shake, Rattle & Roll" and a very smooth "Tequila". The on and off stage wanderings of double bassist Shark Van Schtoop and Mr. King Pleasure himself also brought a smile to the face as we headed towards the entrance of the good Dr. Wood!
Mick Miller then opened Act II with his amusing, deadpan comedy before The Move, ELO creator and Wizzard founder Roy Wood arrived on stage alongside his superb Rock 'n' Roll Band to rapturous applause before taking us on a journey through seven Woody penned Top 10 hits (and two chart toppers!) and reminding those assembled of his truly amazing career and his place in music folklore. This writer never tires of seeing Roy disappear off stage during "R U Red E 2 Rock" and reappear with bagpipes and the fantastic backing of the Birmingham Irish Pipes & Drums Band ... it's pure magic!
Level 42 founder and world renowned bassist Mark King bounded onto stage to join the festivities next replete with his LED enlightened guitar and led the band through two of their biggest hit singles: "Lessons In Love" and "Running In The Family". It was nice to see Roy tackle some unfamiliar verses, a sign that he was enjoying the night and working anew with Mark. Undoubtedly, this cameo lifted the atmosphere a notch or two. The Enigma Strings then graced the stage before a wonderful stringed version "Flowers In The Rain" fulfilled Roy's twin visions of a rock band with an orchestra and/or a jazz influenced brass element.
The arrival of acclaimed tenor Alfie Boe riding high on the success of his latest album "As Time Goes By" to more excited applause heralded another step change in what was becoming an inspired night as he enchanted all with "Bring Him Home" from "Les Miserables" before receiving a standing ovation thereafter. If that wasn't a delight, then his sharing the vocals for "Blackberry Way" very definitely was! Jumping up and down, pumped up with excitement, Alfie grabbed mike and stand in true Rod Stewart style and then rocked the proverbial joint with Roy. His energy energized the whole crowd and meant that the finale of "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday" with a full stage was even more joyful and fun than usual.
Undoubtedly, this was one of the best Rockmas gigs that I've attended over the years and bodes well for the recently announced Rockmas 2019Roy's vocals and guitar sounded ace - as did the band - and the choice of special guests provided more than enough variety to cover all the bases. I've already bought my tickets for next year and recommend that you do too! Check out the links below for further details for Rockmas 2019, remaining 2018 dates and a new Roy Wood book thus:

The Roy Wood Rock 'n' Roll Band are: Roy Wood, Danny McCormack, Shell Naylor, Neil Simpson, Roy Adams, Paul Corry, Jim Corry, James Russell and John 'Boysey' Battrum

elobeatlesforever (elobf) recommends Roy Wood to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO, Jeff Lynne, Wizzard, The Move, The Idle Race, 'Brum Beat', The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO [and related] Universe ... KJS ... 04-Dec-2018

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Recommended: Roy Wood: The Move, ELO & Wizzard (James R Turner)

Fans of Roy Wood basking in the afterglow of another successful Rock 'n' Roll Winter theatre tour can now look forward to new 160 page paperback set to be published on Thursday 28th February 2019 entitled Roy Wood: The Move, ELO & Wizzard. Subtitled every album, every song, the book at will take a look at the albums and songs written, recorded and produced by the man who gave us The Move, ELO and Wizzard.

Penned by author James R Turner and published by Tewkesbury based Sonicbond Publishing as part of their On Track series, Roy Wood: The Move, ELO & Wizzard (ISBN 978-1789520088) is a book that Yours Truly KJS is very much looking forward to reading and reviewing for elobeatlesforever (elobf) next year. Find out more in the meantime via these links thus:

elobeatlesforever (elobf) recommends Roy Wood: The Move, ELO & Wizzard by James R Turner to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO, Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood, The Move, Wizzard, The Idle Race'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO [and related] Universe ... KJS ... 01-Dec-2018