Carl Wayne

Carl Wayne

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The late Carl Wayne was the first member of the Move to record a solo LP -- it stands out there as the only time he officially stepped before the microphones for an album's worth of songs without a band for "cover," in a career that lasted another 32 years and took him to the British stage and into all manner of other music, in commercials and elsewhere, and finally to fronting one of the few bands of the 1960s that was notably more successful than the Move, the Hollies. The album, which seems never to have had a U.S. release (the Move never having managed to chart a single on the far side of the Atlantic), has been reissued in Japan, and it is worth tracking down even at double the usual price of a domestic CD. There's a wonderful diversity of sounds here, the result of Wayne using four different arrangers. From the opening number, the Louis Prima-co-authored "A Sunday Kind of Love," it's easy to understand what an awkward fit Wayne must have made with the Move -- the rest of whom left the starting gate as American soul fanatics and high-wattage players catering to a mod audience; he's singing what amounted to big-band blues, closer in spirit to the work of Billy Eckstine (with an obvious awareness of Ella et al.). "I Heard the Voice of Jesus" is similarly far removed from anything for which the Move were noted -- full-throated gospel, complete with chorus and Wayne running through his entire range, from basso to an appropriately raspy upper register that's some of the best white singing you'll ever hear in this vein. "Rosanna" is a gentle, soulful ballad that, if anything, recalls the work of Sam Cooke or Nat King Cole at his most lyrical. "Long Gone Time" shows him working in a more dramatic yet equally soulful mode, while "Jubilee Cloud" is a bluesy rocker with a crunchy guitar accompaniment and rippling piano and a delightful female chorus and gospel-style organ, all wrapped around a catchy tune. "On Broadway," which opened the original LP's side two, gets an outsized orchestral accompaniment, including what sounds like a solo tuba amid the strings and echo-drenched percussion. The album's closer, "Spirit in the Sky," is also a somewhat outsized but compelling rendition, Wayne's voice making tremendous impact even amid the massive orchestral accompaniment, big chorus, and slashing lead guitar. At first, like a lot of other fans of the Move, this reviewer found himself put off by the fact that this album wasn't a little bit more like their work, but Wayne's singing is so powerful, and the arrangements are so carefully devised to showcase his strengths, that the album literally sells itself and insinuates itself on the listener. This reviewer was sold after one listen, and he found himself, on a day when he had lots to do, taking it in three times in a row.

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