This is a bonkers record which, had I discovered it when I was in my late teens or early 20s, I might be telling you is one of the great unknown masterpieces of the early ’70s. However, time has dulled my tolerance for the “anything goes” approach of this band, especially given how scattershot the results are.
I like when I don’t know what something is and I’m not sure what this is. At times, it’s very much early prog rock – specifically on “Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited” where they cover Baroque and Classical music – but, most of the rest of the time it’s absolutely not prog rock, and is something much more in the realm of art rock or hard rock (and, occasionally, psychedelia). They don’t seem to know what boundaries are, which is a good thing (and also very true of the era). But how much this kind of approach works for me at this point in my life, and for a 1970 record, depends in great part, on the songs.
Woods’ songwriting is certainly quirky. But I’m not sure how great it is. I appreciate his interest in documenting his time in an institution and I appreciate some of his turns of phrase, but I’m not sure I’m in love with his lyrics. And his melodies are catchy enough, I guess, but none of his originals have really won me over yet.
The covers are weird enough that I don’t know them, and I certainly appreciate that. (And I have no idea how much of “Fields of People” is completely made up by the Move and how much of it is from the original.)
But perhaps what makes the material harder to love is it’s hard to figure out what kind of band this is. On “Hello Susie” (an original) and “Don’t Make My Baby Blue” (a cover of a song that was a hit in the UK, apparently) they are a hard rock band, able to compete with any other UK hard rock band that wasn’t fully metal in 1970. But the rest of the record doesn’t sound anything like this. And though I appreciate the versatility it regularly does not sound like it’s the same band playing on these tracks. I don’t hear the internal consistency I’m looking for.
It sure makes for an interesting and sometimes fun listen, though. And it’s clear there’s a lot of talent here even if the consistency is missing. And I must say that I would much rather listen to something this weird than I would listen to 6 tracks that all sound like “Hello Susie” or 6 tracks that all sound like “Beautiful Daughter” or what have you.
So I think it’s worth your time and I do feel as though I could come to love it. But I’m pretty sure it’s not as classic as some reviews have made it out to be.