Compared to the Move's long-gestating 1968 eponymous debut, their 1970 sophomore effort Shazam is unified. It was not culled from sessions from a period of 14 months but instead largely made at one time...but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's any easier to get a handle on the album. The Move changed greatly in the period between their first albums, with original bassist Chris "Ace" Kefford leaving in a cloud of acid in 1968. In his absence, rhythm guitarist Trevor Burton jumped over to bass, beginning an odd period where the group was cutting songs, most penned by Roy Wood but a few written by David Morgan, a fellow Birmingham-based songwriter signed to the publishing company of Move lead singer Carl Wayne. Pulled between these two camps, the Move finally had a true hit single with Wood's gorgeous, watery psychedelic epic "Blackberry Way," not long after Burton left the band and Richard Price was pulled in as his replacement so the band could earn money by touring cabarets in Europe. Here, the band grew muscular and weirder, traits that are showcased on the short-yet-sprawling Shazam. Throwing out the concise constructions and meticulous miniatures of their psychedelic singles, the Move concentrate on heavy progressive rock on Shazam. With the exception of the gentle, string-laden "Beautiful Daughter" -- quite clearly a holdover from previous sessions due to both its sweetness and brevity -- none of the six songs here clock in under five minutes, with two sprawling over seven and "Fields of People" inching toward the 11-minute mark. To what extent this was an intentional experiment or a way of coping with a lack of material is hard to tell; of these six, only the thunderous opener "Hello Susie" truly qualifies as a new Wood original, as "Beautiful Daughter" dates earlier and "Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited" itself is a reworked, expanded version of a song from the debut. "Hello Susie" also points the way to the heavy, hooky rock & roll the Move would patent on Message from the Country, and it does feel different than either this new "Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited" or the three covers that make up the second side of Shazam. All these four songs are arranged so the band can dabble in color and texture, shifting from guitars as heavy as their Brummie cohorts Black Sabbath to fragile harmonies. It's wildly inventive music and, as pure sound, the Move may never have been better than they are here, as there are more ideas in each of these long, languid jams than most bands have in a career. Once again, the sheer number of ideas can be intimidating upon first listen and there may be so many that some listeners may never get past this rush of invention, but Shazam rewards repeated spins many times over.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine