Nice Move

Over two cd mp3 compilations I have -The Move: The Move (1968), Movement: unreleased early tracks), Shazam (1970), Looking On (Brontosaurus) (1971), Message From The Country, BBC Sessions, Anthology: Live (Roy Wood, Jeff Lynn). As well as: The Nice: (Keith Emerson) The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack (1968), Ars Long Vita Brevis (1968), Nice (1969), Five Bridges: Live (1970) The title refers to Newcastles five bridges – combining, prog rock, classical music and jazz. Plus: Roy Harper: Flat Baroque & Berserk (1970); Spooky Tooth: It’s All About (1968). All British chart-toppers who never made a real dent in the USA charts.

My Move move started on the east coast with Split Ends, an lp from the Record Club Of Canada – that included tracks from their lps. I love the monolithic Brontosaurus. In Toronto I picked a double lp set of tracks from their lps. When I got high-speed I dowloaded the box set of everything – though how many version of Cherry Blossom Clinic can one enjoys? It was out the Move that The Electric Light Orchestra was birthed, as well the career of the zany Roy Wood (More about him when I get to ‘w’.)

The early lps are power pop full energy & sonically slick, radio friendly songs, Message From The Country is more mature, the sound is denser & the songs, to me, more interesting. The BBC sessions are fine but repetitious but showed that they could reproduce their studio sound. As I said how many versions of Cherry Blossom Clinic does one need to hear 🙂

Another late 60’s band is The Nice, propelled by Keith Emerson’s keyboard & prog rock energy these are interesting recordings chock-a-block with classic adaptations, orchestral bombast & arty experimentalism. At times ponderous & self-important they are great to have & heard. I didn’t pick up anything by them until I had high speed. If Emerson hadn’t gone on to establish himself they may have become even more of a cult item than they are now. There are touches of Soft Machine & early Pink Floyd in their music.

Roy Harper is an iconic British fold rock singer guitarist who despite realizing some 32 lps has never made a big North American ‘splash.’ On Flat Baroque he records one track with The Nice. Spooky Tooth is another Brit band that never broke into the US market. On this lp they sound a bit like Traffic/Deep Purple  & nod a cover version of, of all things, Janis Ian’s Society’s Child. More about Spooky when we get to ’s’.



The lounge is nearly empty. It is so dim it takes our eyes a moment to adjust. Muted red. Yellow tinted windows. Top hat ash trays. Air-conditioned cool. Very nice. Adult. We sit at window table & order tall glasses of Long Island Iced tea.

“You are quite right, this place is nice.” The quite feels foolish as I say it. I want to relax with Jean but the misdirected anguish of our separation make me value safety first. Chopin may be all the romance safe enough for me to handle, yet I want her back.

“They’ve had some problems here.” She leans forward to whisper. A gold locket around her neck slips from beneath her blouse.

“Really? I haven’t heard.” My eyes follow the muted red glints shimmering in the tiny diamond middle of the heart. “You’re still wearing this?” I touch it, touching the flesh underneath it in the same motion.

“They tried to keep out the uh … undesirables.”


“You know – gays.” 

She pushes my hand away. Is she ignoring my touch deliberately.

“This is the place?” I look around as if there should be a reason woven into the rug. “What happened?”

To us, I nearly add but fear that too would be ignored.

“The usual picketing. Business fell off & the management capitulated. I even signed the petition. I was all stupid, to me. I never felt threatened or come-on-to by another woman when I was here. Even if I was, Hell, I have the right to decide what I want to do, not the asshole management. You know what I mean, don’t you?” She nervously wraps the locket’s chain around her fingers knowing I never could share her interest in political causes.

David don’t know what to say. To attack her illogic would threatened any hoped for reconciliation. This isn’t safe talk.

“I don’t follow this stuff. You should know that.”

I am uncomfortable. She does this to me every time. What does she want? A confession of my ignorance? An admission of my latent confusions. Is that why she picked this place?

“I was never much for night life. What happens in places like this doesn’t mean much to me.” I always found that apathy could disguise my vulnerability from her. David is safe.

“Oh, I see, not unless it’s on your own front steps. Let me put it this way. What if you barred from here because you listened to Chopin.”

“Now that would be silly. Isn’t there more involved here than just a difference in musical tastes?”

“I was simplifying for your benefit.” She sighs, wanting to push on to the ethics of what had happened but not wanting to rush him, yet.

David wants to leave

“Did I tell you I’ve moved?”

“Really? Out of that shoebox in the southend?” She is eager to talk of something else, not wanting to frustrate herself by beating against his disinterest in politics.

“I have a place just over on Crane Street. The downstairs of a house. Would you like to see it? It’s just a five minute walk from here?” I feel myself blush with my lunge, I expect a refusal but don’t think I’d forgiver her if she did. Masculine pride.

She looks at her watch.”I don’t know. It’s nearly 4 and I have to be on duty for work at 6:30. I still have to eat.”

“No problem. You can have supper with me.”

“Well,” she says reluctantly. “It sounds like a lot of trouble.”

“Don’t be silly.” I got up, making her decision for her, as I hope she expects me to do. We both seem to feel things aren’t over between us.

As we leave, the boy in overalls enters. He is wearing  tee-shirt now. He brushes me. Our eyes meet briefly. There is a clear hint in the boy’s eyes that I suddenly, totally, want to understand, but the surrender passes with heartbeat quickness. I also see that he isn’t a boy but a man near my own age.

We go up the street, a bit too fast, David wondering if Jean senses any change in attitude. If she realizes that the place I have for her in my life is one for my protection.

“What’s the rush?” She asks, pushing her face at mine. Twisting her head awkwardly to get my attention, her spine curves strangely, letting my hand slide from her shoulder down to her hip. I hope she’ll take this accidental caress as an answer.

part 3 next week

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