Today’s music video is See My Baby Jive and this song is performed here by the English Glam Rock band Wizzard.
This video was posted to You Tube by 70’s & 80’s Music + Kate Bush
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been mentioning the history behind some of the bands and artists who have made music across the years and this song I have featured today highlights another of those examples of this history.
As you look at this video clip from 1973, and notice the man with the huge hair and the painted face, be aware that this was the coming thing around that time, and the music, while still basically pop music was given its own genre, Glam Rock.
The singer with all the hair and the painted face is Roy Wood. The American band Kiss was just in its early stages at around this same time, or a little later, and that band then turned this facial painting makeup into an art form.
Roy Wood already had a strong musical heritage, long before this song became such a huge hit in the UK. He was a founding member of the band The Move, an English band which had a series of major hits in the mid and late 60’s, including Flowers In The Rain in 1967 and Blackberry Way in 1968, both written by Roy Wood, and both huge Number One Hits. While this band was huge in its home, the UK, they never quite caught on in the U.S. and that was nothing out of the ordinary as a number of bands that were huge in the UK never ‘made it’ in the U.S. In 1970, Wood persuaded Jeff Lynne to join the band. In 1972, Wood started to experiment with the inclusion of traditional strings, Violins and Cellos into rock music. His enthusiasm rubbed off on two other members of the band, Lynne and Bev Bevan, and unwilling to leave what was a successful band, Lynne said they would come with him only on the proviso that he concentrated on this new direction.
The three of them then formed the band Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) included these new instruments into their music, practiced, toured and then recorded an album, with Roy Wood as the main driving force behind this new and now much larger band. That first album produced a minor hit, and was relatively well accepted. The band then departed on a tour of Europe, that did not go very well. The main problem was that the strings were overwhelmed by the electric instruments and could barely be heard above them, at virtually every venue.
Back in England, the band started to record a second album, but part way through, Roy Wood left the band taking with him a couple of others, and the resultant band was Wizzard, led by Roy Wood. This time he not only included traditional stringed instruments but also brass instruments as well, giving the new band a truly orchestral sound, almost in the now famous Wall Of Sound format, perfected by Phil Spector.
Everyone expected ELO to just fold up, without the driving influence of Roy Wood. However, Jeff Lynne stepped up as the new leader, found some more stringed instrumentalists, worked out the problem with amplification, and persevered with the new ELO, but with only minor success.
The new move for Wood, forming Wizzard, looked to have paid off handsomely, as their first Single was a Top Five hit in the UK, and their second Single, the song featured today, See My Baby Jive was a monster Number One Smash hit in the UK, spending four weeks at Number One, and this was followed by another huge Number One, and then two more Top Five Hits as well, all this in barely two years, while ELO struggled.
Over the next few years, Wizzard faded, and ELO, with the release of their sixth album, A New World Record, in 1976, ended up becoming the biggest thing in UK music since The Beatles, as they produced hit after hit after hit, and all their following albums sold off the charts. Even though ELO never emulated Wizzard by having a Number One Single, they did have three Number One Albums, probably more prestigious (amongst the music fraternity) than a Number One Single.
This song featured today, See My Baby Jive, was also a big hit here in Australia, and while only just struggling into the Top Ten, it stayed around that position for Months, and in all, it spent more than six Months on the National Chart in Australia. It was just such a great song, so catchy, and all the radio stations played it so often. Other songs came and went, and while some went higher on the charts, they faded more quickly than this song did.
Roy Wood was a truly gifted musician, and this wonderful song just proves that, if you can get past the fact that he looks like such a wild man.