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The Invention Of Grunge In Under Five Minutes: The Move’s “Brontosaurus”

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As any suitably minded maestro will tell you, classical music is often divided into movements.

Arguably, though, before Roy Wood was able to found his Electric Light answer to the orchestra, attempting to blend that sound with more traditionally rock instrumentation, he signed off with one final seismic innovation–positioning himself as a candidate for the invention of grunge in the four minutes and twenty five seconds of Brontosaurus, released in March 1970.

Lyrically at least, it seemed in keeping with the almost pastiche-like rock & roll they had been churning out on and off since their early days, a prehistoric dancehall number possibly comparable only to Tommy Steele’s Rock With The Caveman.

With added Soundgarden….as can be heard during their Beat Club appearance, cementing Birmingham’s claim to be the true birthplace of heavy months before the first Black Sabbath album, now just imagine the late Chris Cornell wrapping his vocal cords around it.

She can really do the Brontosaurus

And she can scream the heeby jeeby for us.

Until you know what she’s really got

‘cos she can do it loud

Well, she can do it, do it, do it!

As a screw you to the implied comparatively more middle of the road style preferred by the departed Carl Wayne, gone after the preceding Curly single, it couldn’t be more flippant. And to these ears it’s every bit as radical as what came next, not least for bearing the first fruit of Wood’s working with Jeff Lynne.

Indeed, the Looking On album from which this stomper hails is somehow almost frowned upon by those yearning for the days of Flowers In The Rain–admittedly notable in itself in its use by Radio One as the first song played on the BBC’s attempt to cancel out pirate radio and claim a bit of pop kudos for itself as part of a sweeping reorganization.

Roy, though, would soon get tired of hearing the grass grow and so sent his dinosaur friend out to play on it before getting down to the serious business of fusing the embryonic Radio One with what was now known as Radio Three. Against which backdrop 10538 Overture was issued, its co- producer subsequently noting in one interview at the time, that, “It was beginning to sound like some monster heavy metal orchestra. In fact, it sounded just bloody marvellous.”

And though he would subsequently depart, another short-lived Move era presentation piece would recur as Wizzard arrived. Anyone who’s ever clapped eyes on the video for the ubiquitously festive I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day will no doubt have noticed an incredibly glam Santa….

…whose make up was actually first worn during an Old Grey Whistle Test appearance promoting Brontosaurus, Wood stepping into Wayne’s shoes and ripping PrELO to shreds with gleeful abandon.

Nevertheless it seems history agrees with Michael Bonner of Uncut:

“It is a sad fact of life that a man from any walk of life – even the often preposterous world of music – will struggle to be taken seriously if he wanders about wearing a beard the size of Gibraltar, decorating his face with white stars and red war paint, growing his hair down to his waist, then dying it yellow on one side of the parting and blue on the other.”

For shame, perhaps.

But equally and arguably more mystifying is the fact the Move never really made much headway in the U.S., from whence came grunge a good long while after things literally moved on.

Hopefully if nothing else having tested a theory over the course of this piece, all devotees may well be persuaded to love Dinosaur Senior at least as much as the children they spawned.