Sep 06

THE MOVE – “Blackberry Way”

FT + Popular65 comments • 6,171 views

#265, 8th February 1969


COVER MOVE blackberry wayThe first time I heard this – one of the songs from this era that was entirely new to me – I thought it sounded like a terrible mess. Everything about it was heavy-handed, lead-footed, fuzzy, all its elements slopping into one another and crushing a pretty pop song in the process.

Then of course I realised that’s the desired effect. “Blackberry Way” gets the emotional mood of a break-up right – the mooching, washed-out misery punctuated with blurts of stupid optimism. But it also captures in its production the physical mood too – the way that in its rejection your body no longer seems to fit right with the world, making you feel clumsy and out of place.

(And by most accounts it fits 1969 too – the psychedelia it nods back to has been compromised and complicated, its colours running. A bleak record, this.)



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  1. 31
    Mark G on 8 Feb 2011 #

    Yeah, I remember that tale, took it with a pinch of salt to be honest, but believeable, true true…

    While we’re here..

    I saw in Fopp the other day, the whole “out-of-copyright” thing has led to the production of boxsets of CDs with “All the UK Hits of the year” volumes whatever, all legit. I can imagine them having a lot of subscribers to that. I think the one I saw was 1960 Vol 2.

  2. 32
    wichita lineman on 8 Feb 2011 #

    Yes Mark, they’re great. Proper time capsules. The earlier volumes got me dangerously hooked on Pre Rock – plenty of Frankie Laine in my collection now.

    The 1960 sets are a pretty strong argument for Nik Cohn’s claim that it was ‘rue morgue’ – pop’s worst year. Though 1975 gives it a good run for its money; Roy Wood was one of many victims of a new, dead, flat studio sound that pretty much killed Glam.

  3. 33
    Paulito on 10 Feb 2011 #

    Ah, glad to learn from the comments above that “ICHTGG” is not, after all, near-forgotten – in Blighty at least. Sadly, it’s rarely if ever heard on Irish oldies radio (unlike a lot of less worthy stuff from the same era).

  4. 34
    crag on 14 Apr 2011 #


    Harry Enfield, comedian(1997).

  5. 35
    jimbob on 9 Jun 2012 #

    When they say blackberry…..are they referring to the phone? And the goodbye bit….. Was that because he bought an iPhone

    Btw I’m serious I’m not acting dumb and could you please answer my question

  6. 36
    Mark G on 11 Jun 2012 #

    Berry Way was a mate of Roy Wood, and he was going back to Jamaica. Or something.

  7. 37
    Waldo on 11 Jun 2012 #

    Nearly right, Mark, but not quite. In fact this was when Berry (indeed a Jamaican mate of Wood’s) purchased a new state of the art hairdryer and Roy was complimenting him on his fine purchase.

    Rafa Nadal’s 7th French Open to break Borg’s record. Astonishing player.

  8. 38
    Patrick Mexico on 1 Dec 2013 #

    Re 30: Didn’t know she was a true blue. That’s what made Gary Barlow work with her, then. :runs to Relight my Fire and gives it a 1 to shock him and her into paying tax:

  9. 39
    Patrick Mexico on 1 Dec 2013 #

    By the way, 8/10 for the song, not familiar with this but wakes tie-dyed psychedelia up from the desert island hammock like a flashbacking drill sergeant, tells it to grow a pair, and gives it a brutal hair of the dog. :fraped by Partridge:

    But seriously, you can trace the “heavier”, more expansive sound to at least two Birmingham/Black Country bands who’d define the seventies..

  10. 40
    Mark G on 2 Dec 2013 #

    Trevor Burton always looked kind-of evil on the vintage Move footage ( They had that “Birmingham rock scene” documentary on BBC4 over the weekend. John Peel narrates, so it’s from a while ago..)

    Seems he was a “King” blues fan (BBKing, etc, that is) and Hated “Blackberry Way” specifically, and the “pop” direction in general. Cue an on-stage bust-up and a departure.

    Fast-forward to himself on TOTP with the Steve Gibbons band doing “Tulane”, looking much happier.

    Takes all sorts I suppose, but how is covering “Tulane” better than “Blackberry Way”?

  11. 41
    tm on 3 Dec 2013 #

    Same mentality as Clapton quitting the Yardbirds over For Your Love, I guess. In a sense it’s admirable that the music he loved meant more to him than fame or money but if he couldn’t appreciate the quality of FYL (or Burton, BBW) because it was outside his narrow tastes at the time then it’s to his detriment.

  12. 42
    Patrick Mexico on 6 Dec 2013 #

    Jesus H Christ, Roy does sound like Ozzy Osbourne on this, doesn’t he? It’s quite funny to imagine Sabbath doing anything remotely “hippy”..

  13. 43
    Mark G on 6 Dec 2013 #

    I could hear some similarities between this and Ozzy’s “So Tired”

  14. 44
    Cumbrian on 6 Dec 2013 #

    42: You listened to much Sabbath? Sweet Leaf might be heavy but as an ode to weed, it’s fairly squarely in the stereotypical hippie vein. Similarly, War Pigs as anti-Vietnam/anti-war in general message. And then there’s stuff like Fluff off Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, which is a rather fey, acoustic piece, which probably sounds a bit like the sort of thing hippies might have sterotypically listened to.

    If hippies were the people that turned up to the early incarnations of Glastonbury, where Lep Zep played, I would imagine there was a fair few hippies that were into “heavy” music. I think imagining Ozzy as a hippie is only difficult now because we’ve heard all the stories about bats, snorting lines of ants, etc. All that black magic/wiccan stuff from early in their career though, plus some of their output, seems to suggest otherwise.

    I could be way off base though. Someone who wasn’t due to be born for 10-15 years and actually was a hippie or knew some might be better placed to discuss this.

    On topic, and as I mentioned up thread, I quite like The Move. I wonder if Roy Wood sounds a bit like Ozzy due to them coming from similar areas of the country. Both born and raised in Birmingham. Just saying…

  15. 45
    tm on 6 Dec 2013 #

    Planet Caravan too – Sabbath’s hippiest moment?

  16. 46
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 6 Dec 2013 #

    I think a better way to see it is that Sabbath’s arrival marked the emergence (or anyway clarification) of divisions (class as much as subcultural or attitudinal) within the countercultural bloc: the Sabs hit *big* in the US hinterland (as did Zep), but were *hugely* resisted by the Woodstock Aristocracy, stupid younger-brother music, not what the revolution was about etc etc. The Sab choice of topics and treatment was pretty much entirely original to them (tale of Tony Iommi walking past a long cinema queue for a Hammer Horror film and a lightbulb going on — but this trivialises it quite a bit, since they were all so obviously MADE for the subject-matters as performer-musicians). Always beware the punk hindsight lens, which collapses the enormous turmoil and complexity of the late 60s and 70s into mere adolescent black-and-white (not a bad move for the belated runt sibling to create space for him/herself, but a bore and a misperception 40 years later).

  17. 47
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 6 Dec 2013 #

    (as well as inventing metal, more or less — sorry vanilla fudge! — you could just as well argue that sabbaf were proto-punk or proto-goth or even in a curious way proto-glam….)

  18. 48
    tm on 6 Dec 2013 #

    Black Sabbath themselves always slag off hippies in interviews though, saying explicitly that they deliberately set out to do something anathemical to flower-power. Maybe that’s something they’ve adopted since punk and alt-rock made them a cool, outsider-y band acknowledged outside of metal/hard rock circles*, rather than something they genuinely felt at the time, I don’t know.

    *I’ve never heard anyone express dislike of Black Sabbath, whereas there are plenty who despise Led Zep, et al.

  19. 49
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 6 Dec 2013 #

    No, I think they always felt they were uncool cranky outsiders. By contrast, two of Zep were total long-service insiders, as regards the London R&B club scene: they were originally the “New Yardbirds” after all. And Plant was Mr Tolkieny Flower Power. Hobbits and elves were the hippie spirit animals: the Sabs aligned themselves with orcs, goblins and trolls. And Iron Man.

  20. 50
    tm on 6 Dec 2013 #

    The producers of the Iron Man films deferentially shoehorned in instrumental snippets of the Sabbath song to the first film before abandoning it entirely in the second and third films for AC/DC, far more fitting to the cartoonish swagger of likeable dickhead Tony Stark although the ‘nobody wants him’ bit from Iron Man (the song) would have been good for the scene in the third film where Tony’s dragging his broken Iron Man suit through the snow.

    Yes, I do realise I’ve just admitted to having seen all three Iron Man films. No, I’m not proud…

  21. 51
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 6 Dec 2013 #

    It’s the run-out (ie credits) track for IM 1, which I thought was apt and funny (rather than deferential). Haven’t seen IM 2. Obviously IM 3 is the greatest film of all time alongside PotC 3: At World’s End.

  22. 52
    tm on 6 Dec 2013 #

    Iirc, the credits start with the double speed coda from Iron Man possibly spliced with some other instrumental bits like the I AAAAAAAAM IROOOOOON MÀAAAAAAAAN intro but definitely none of the verses then cross fades to AC/DC’s Back In Black.

    I sort of imagine the film’s makers being familiar with the intro and the riff and thinking they’ll use the song to deliver the requisite badass classic rock swagger, then listening through and realising it’s actually a sad and scary song about a different Iron Man (Ted Hughes’?) delivered at a menacingly funereal pace. Which seems to sum up Sabbath’s outsider status: Tony Stark might wear their T-shirt (in the documentary Avengers Assemble) but he probably doesn’t listen to their weird, uneasy music much. Which of course makes them the classic rock band it’s OK for punks and indies to like.

    There is, however, a scene in the trailer (but not the movie iirc) where Tony kicks down the door to his captors cave prison in sync with Bill Ward’s bass drum then flies across the sky to the main riff, which is easily the awesomest thing in the Iron Man franchise.

    Iron Man 2 is like being trapped in Mitt Romney’s head for two hours.

  23. 53
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 6 Dec 2013 #

    ted hughes’s iron man, yes, but iirc not actually via the medium of reading, just looking at the pictures!

    (awesome if true, bcz the loneliness is spot on)

  24. 54
    tm on 7 Dec 2013 #

    Perfect Sabbath: couldn’t read the words, understood the poem anyway, somehow. Brilliant primitive.*

    Perhaps deference is the wrong word for the inclusion of Sab in Iron Man. Affection might be more like it: producers wanted them in and worked hard to find morsels of their music that would fit the story even though it runs counter to their general vibe.

    * I’m not trying to say that not being able to read the poem it good in and of itself. I think there’s a suspicion on FT that anyone who celebrates or enjoys the primitive is anti-intellectual. If you can read and understand then poem you’re brilliant, you’re Brian Wilson or Prince or Lee Perry. But I’d rather a brilliant beast like Ozzy than a routine scholar like Clapton.

  25. 55
    tm on 7 Dec 2013 #

    I heard the Move smashed tv sets on stage with axes which sounds bizarre, hearing the bubblegum of Fire Brigade or Night of Fear or Flowers in the Rain. Did any older FTers ever bare witness to this bizarre spectacle?

  26. 56
    Patrick Mexico on 7 Dec 2013 #

    Well, well, well, in 1993, Damon Albarn said this

    “If punk was about getting rid of hippies, then I’m getting rid of grunge. It’s the same sort of feeling: people should smarten up, be a bit more energetic. They’re walking around like hippies again – they’re stooped, they’ve got greasy hair, there’s no difference. Whether they like it or not, they’re listening to Black Sabbath again. It irritates me.”

    As usual with him, I’m unsure whether he’s being genuinely sincere or arrogantly revising music history for his own dubious gain.

  27. 57
    Patrick Mexico on 7 Dec 2013 #

    Re 44: Fair enough, but compared to the Mancs and Scousers, a lot of West Midlands acts don’t really express as much of a broad Brummie-ness. Then again you’ve got Simon Le Bon and his “Saaw yaw on the shawroom flawwr” on Duran Duran’s comeback (yet again) single from 1998, Electric Barbarella. It’s quite hideous, but works just fine alongside disconcerting electronica.

  28. 58

    The Iron Man is a children’s book rather than a poem. But otherwise yes: and I would definitely argue that Sabbath are differently intellectual rather than anti-intellectual. Certainly they get at some something deeper than Blur ever did: without, as you say, being remotely describable as scholars. Music and reading are very different crafts: there can be overlap, and some people do both very well, but people can be great at the first without making a mark on the second.

  29. 59
    tm on 7 Dec 2013 #

    Definitely not anti-intillectual, Ozzy comes across as quite thoughtful and socially conscious in the few early interviews I’ve read, before drugs and booze took their toll on him.

    And yes, of course it’s not a poem! I have actually read it when I was a kid, fine story it is too. This’ll teach me to post drunk…

  30. 60
    tm on 7 Dec 2013 #

    I was trying to draw a parallel between musical craftsmanship and the patience and thoughtfulness required to study literature, rather than just saying ‘if you make clever music, you must read clever books’ but I agree with you that, even on that more nuanced level, the two don’t necessarily go hand in hand.

  31. 61
    tm on 7 Dec 2013 #

    Black Sabbath’s musical primitivism seems like very much a conscious choice to reflect the themes of their songs (they can and do play more delicately sometimes as has been mentioned upthread. Compared to, say, a lot of the early punk bands who were genuinely musically naive, often teenagers who’d only recently started playing.

  32. 62
    martin on 7 Dec 2013 #

    In reply to some comments earlier about the chart hits box sets; I’ve been putting together playlists of every single in the UK top 40 by year (in order of the week they entered the charts).

    My spotify username is HodgerMccodger, I’ve set the access as public so other people should be able to access them.

    I’m only on 1963 at the moment, so if this has already been done would be grateful if anyone could point me in the direction of them. Usually there’s only 6 or 7 singles that can’t be found on spotify (and no Beatles tracks). I made a note of these in description (again not sure if that is available),

    Anyway I thought it might be of some interest to people here. If anyone can’t view the playlists or the description, please let me know

  33. 63
    hectorthebat on 27 May 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Elvis Costello – The Best Songs from the 500 Best Albums Ever (2000)

  34. 64
    lonepilgrim on 3 Jan 2017 #

    I do remember this from the time and finding the hairy singers a little scary. ‘Penny Lane is an obvious comparison for me but that combines melancholy and optimism in a lighter way whereas this seems more heavy handed – although I suspect that is deliberate.

  35. 65
    Gareth Parker on 11 May 2021 #

    I think I would go with a 7/10. I’ve always thought the Move were a really good band.

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