Roy Wood

On the Road Again

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The gargantuan, galumphing Super Active Wizzo band out of his system, Roy Wood returned to the light, sunny oldies of Eddy & the Falcons with 1979's On the Road Again. As the title makes clear, On the Road Again is Roy Wood's version of a road album, the kind of record that was created on the road to be played on the road -- that would be true if Wood were a conventional musician, but he's not, as this was not supported by a large tour and didn't even see a release in his native U.K. Therefore, this record is merely the yin to Super Active Wizzo's yang, a record that is about pop songs instead of instrumental interplay. Wood's Beach Boys adoration shines brightly, surfacing on a three-chord rocker called "Keep Your Hands on the Wheel" that could have shown up on Sunflower, and coloring the very bad disco indulgence "Colourful Lady." The presence of "Colourful Lady" indicates that even though Wood is in his oldies mode he's not totally immersed in it, and still has an eye on the possibility of chart success, even if he's not quite committed to do whatever it takes to get a hit. As such, On the Road Again gets quite muddled, vacillating between old-fashioned rock & roll rave-ups like "Road Rocket" and the quite excellent ELO homage "Backtown Sinner," occasionally dipping into the late-'60s freak folk of "Jimmy Lad." It makes for a head-spinning listen, which may be par for the course with Wood -- Boulders hardly stayed in one place -- but On the Road Again feels like a jumble due to its uneven batch of songs and, most especially, the overly slick production, which feels like a misguided attempt at a big splashy radio hit. That's something Wood could never quite achieve with his best songs -- and none of the tunes here could conceivably be placed in that category.

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