Blackberry Hit Saves The Move

New Musical Express, January 25th, 1969

Interview with Carl by Nick Logan

 

It's nice to see the Move moving in the NME chart again. Nice, because their last single died a dismal death and nice because the pop scene without the vagaries and exhortations of Carl, Trev, Roy and Bev is a poorer place. And nicest of all because if "Blackberry Way" had not been a hit, the Move would have broken up.

"We want to present ourselves not as ogres, but as rational people," announced Carl Wayne, complete with new-image virgin white sweater, when he finally arrived at the NME offices on Friday after half an hour of misadventure with London taxi drivers who took him everywhere but 112 Strand.

Apologies

A collective cry of greeting went up from the NME staff as Mr Wayne made his belated appearance apologising profusely. One of the good guys is Carl and a popular lad with the journalistic ranks who know a good "quote" when they see it.

One of the most popular misconceptions in pop is that the Move is a violent group. Mr Wayne can be pleasantness personified - a lover of animals who will get upset at the sight of a stray dog in the road.

Bev and Roy are just...well, anyone who knows them will tell you they wouldn't harm a fly. And Trevor, who after all has only just over ten stone going for him, is perhaps the most aggressively inclined, but only when pushed to the limits most right thinking people would not endure.

Having moved musically too into a more subdued countryfied style, there appears to have been effected a mellowing of the Move - or a mellowing of what was the Move image.

"I don't think we have matured or mellowed but we have desperately tried to slow things down," said Carl when we adjourned to an ale house across the road, where he dived into a chicken salad.

"We have been in a state of depression," he admitted. "We have been down for some time. What I want is to see the group established as a top line act. We want a more respectful image within the business."

The last time I saw Carl was at a reception for fellow Birmingham group the Idle Race (and very good they are too) and when I taxed him on the demise of "Wild Tiger Woman," he said something about "the Move's image catching up on them." But it was a brief encounter and he didn't explain.

I followed up my enquiry.

"Up and until the Wilson affair we were not in any danger of the image catching up," said Carl. "With that we probably offended more people than we realised and BBC and Top Rank and people like that thought we had gone too far.

"But we were just told a postcard was being drawn up and then this thing came out and we were horrified. But it was too late to stop it. For a month or two it was a great giggle. We reveled in the public loving us for having a go at Wilson.

"Then came the adverse affects. A lot of people thought this is a nasty group. BBC plugs went down. It is very hard when you are in a group, to know what people outside are thinking of you. I think the Wilson thing made us one of the biggest groups in the country, for some time...it used to be 'The Beatles, the Stones and that group that libelled the Prime Minister.'

"And people have even said that we don't need hit records, but we do because we don't cater for the underground. I think we came too early for that kind of audience and having had four hit records we are now not acceptable to the underground."

The group is now aiming for a fresh start. They have already parted company with manager Tony Secunda - who, Carl will admit, "made them" - and are currently trying to sort out recording difficulties.

It was Secunda, says Carl, who tried to mould the Move image to something like the Stones. It was an image of non-conformity, of violence and with it went the now famous smashing of dummies and television sets in their stage act.

"It is the most dangerous thing to do - to put an axe through a television screen," said Carl, gnawing at a chicken bone.

"I was getting scared of doing it because at some places the kids would be as near as we are sitting now and to put an axe through a television in a situation like that is ludicrous.

"There were a lot of unfortunate things that all stemmed from that TV thing. Everywhere we went people were trying to provoke us to find out if we were as violent as our image.

"In the end we just could not hold it back. And that led to situations like the Rome Pop Festival thing."

Last Chance

When "Wild Tiger Woman" flopped, Carl admitted their last chance was to make probably the most commercial record they had ever made - "Blackberry Way."

"Gradually it has been getting good plugs," said Carl. "All we need is basically for this one to be a top ten hit and for things to go well in America.

"You see, the joke had gone too far and people were not going to stand for it. You want recognition yes - but you also want respect. People were beginning to lose their respect for us as people.

"We are trying to get back now, not to being just another group, but to being the Move and showing there is a lot of talent here. We have, I believe, one of the top three writers in the country in Roy Wood. And don't take it on what has gone but on what is going to come."

I was able to understand better what Carl meant by the image catching up on them when he told me, as an example, of one place they played at and the manager kicked up because they had done only a 40 minute spot. The group pointed out that they always did 40 minutes and that the time in the contract - to which the manager had to agree. But to get out of paying, said Carl, he used what was the old Move image and made accusations about the group wrecking his dressing rooms and breaking furniture and claimed, among other things, that Carl punched a hole through the ceiling with his fist.

"That's the sort of thing that can happen," said Carl despondently. "We reckon to have lost 3,000 like that - by people refusing to pay."

Still the old image clings. "Even now there is still an air in that people are very cautious of us. "You get millions of yobs hanging round a club and when we get out the car they suddenly go quiet. There is still this weird air about," said Carl.

What went wrong?

"We wanted recognition and after seven years of being nothing you take what you can," he admitted. "We just signed the wrong things."

It would be a sad day if the Move were no more.

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