Wizzard Brew

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Roy Wood designed Wizzard's singles to be hooky, accessible propositions. The "real art" was saved for the albums...or at least that's the impression their debut, Wizzard Brew, leaves. It's hard to tell what to make of Wizzard Brew, actually, and it seems all the stranger since it was released the same year as four jubilant, sparkling pop singles, all deliberately left off of the LP. Stylistically, the album isn't all that different from the hits -- four of the six songs are firmly rooted in '50s rock & roll, while the other two hearken back to the Move at their most self-consciously British -- but the music sounds as if it was performed by a different band. In a way, Wizzard Brew picks up where "Brontosaurus" left off, since its foundation is heavy on guitars and complicated riffing, yet that still doesn't explain the strangeness of the album. Despite its Chuck Berry/Eddie Cochran roots, the record plays like sonic terrorism -- a bizarre blend of boogie riffs and old-time rock & roll, spiked with traces of British psychedelia and music hall, all filtered through sheer white noise. Wizzard Brew is easily the noisiest damn record of its era -- compressed, processed, and flattened within an inch of its life. It's possible that this is all the result of a studio mishap, but it doesn't feel that way. The noise feels like an artistic decision, a way to push Wizzard's blend of retro rock and art into uncharted territory. It's the polar opposite of ELO -- consciously primitive art rock. Only two songs clock in at under five minutes; the rest beat the listener into submission with their pummeling riffs, unbridled boogie, and sheets of noise. It leaves you dazed and senseless, yet not necessarily satisfied.

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