I had a Billboard book growing up, which was just a series of chronologies of bands. It was really quite boring but for some reason I ate it up; I read it front to back more than once. I think one of the things I found fascinating about it was all the recurring names from bank to band; something about how incestuous pop rock was appealed to me. The book was not written so that you could trace the careers of individuals from band to band, but I did just that. One of the names I came across in that book was Roy Wood’s.
But in the intervening decades I never listened to The Move or early ELO or Wizzard. This is literally the first time I am aware that I have heard Roy Wood’s music, despite knowing of him for at least 25 years. That time creates expectations, expectations that cannot possibly be met. I didn’t understand the music I was reading about it but in most cases I have heard that music in the interim and listening has dispelled any weird notions I had. Not so with Roy Wood.
I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this. This is an arty folk rock record, you might say. At times it’s chamber pop/chamber rock/chamber folk decades before such things existed, but with a lot more of an emphasis on traditional rock and roll. (So you get a rock and roll track and then you get something you might describe as “chamber.”) It jumps from sincere to goofy, in addition to jumping styles. It is full of slightly weird (but not too weird) overdubs, nearly all of which are played by Wood himself.
And it does nothing for me. It’s too cutesy/twee and lacking in the things I like about rock and folk music (when it leans towards the rock or folk sides, rather than the pop side).
I appreciate this more than I do a Nilsson record, but it feels to me like the barriers that keep me from enjoying Nilsson will also continue to prevent me from enjoying Roy Wood.