Song of the Day: The Move – Do Ya

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Jordan Posner recalls: Yes, “Do Ya” is a 1976 song by Electric Light Orchestra. Good for you. Help yourself to some “Rocknuts Fun Bucks” (they’re worthless). I’m more interested in the recording that Jeff Lynne and company did back when they were called “The Move.” Now, like almost all of you, I heard the ELO version of “Do Ya” first. It’s a mainstay of classic rock radio and more than one car commercial. Having heard both versions, I have to say that I prefer the original version. Sure, it lacks the orchestral gloss that was both a hallmark of ELO’s sound and Lynne’s production style. The Move’s version is merely a well-done rock song. It’s a British Invasion-era offering that offers a bit of a harder edge and bursts with a ramshackle energy. In fact, this song threatens to run off the rails more than once. The drumming is sloppy, the vocals distorted and the guitars speed up and slow down at will. In other words, it’s a fucking rock song. Though ELO would ultimately push the boundaries of both popular and progressive music, it’s easy to forget the elegant simplicity of the songs at the core. Lynne and his bandmates didn’t have so many hits simply because they married classical music and rock music. Procol Harum essentially pioneered that business, and they got a grand total of one memorable song out of it (seriously, guess which one). Rather, ELO has endured because they have excellent songwriting. You can’t disguise a weak song with glossy production or face-melting guitar licks. I mean, you can try. Some people have made careers out of it.

The Move’s version of “Do Ya” is a stripped-down and sweaty classic rock song, and though it would be rerecorded with more complex instrumentation, it was plenty powerful in its original form.

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