Today rather than feature a band we’re going to focus on just one song: Do Ya, most famously recorded by Electric Light Orchestra and covered by many, many others. The story of Do Ya goes back far earlier than ELO, however. The Move were an English band that formed in 1965 and found quite a bit of success in England but never managed to break through in the US. Roy Wood was the singer and main song writer for The Move and towards the end of the 60’s he wanted to revitalize the group by incorporating orchestral elements within the group. Wood asked his friend Jeff Lynne to join the band and the seeds were sewn for the Electric Light Orchestra.
As ELO became more of a focus for Wood and Lynne, The Move released their final recording: the single for California Man, with Do Ya on the B side. The B side proved more popular in the US and was the only single by The Move to crack the Top 100. Here’s The Move’s version, considerably rawer than the ELO version but with copious amounts of cowbell:
Jeff Lynne continued to perform the song in concert with ELO before recording it five years later on ELO’s A New World Record Album. The ELO version is kind of over the top but it really fits the bombastic nature of the song.
In 1975 Todd Rundgren and his band Utopia started playing Do Ya in concerts in return for The Move recording a Rundgren song. The song was recorded as part of the Another Live album. A pretty nice version, it would have been a hit if ELO wasn’t first to the airwaves:
Shortly after ELO’s first album Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne had a falling out, probably over Lynne’s usurping of Wood’s orchestral rock idea. Wood left to form another band, Wizzard. But prior to all this he was also in a band called Mike Sheridan and The Nightriders. It all came full circle in 1976 when Mike Sheridan recorded Do Ya for his new band, Elmer Goodbody Jr. What does this have to do with Wizzard? Elmer Goodbody Jr was basically Wizzard minus Roy Wood plus Mike Sheridan. I really like their version of Do Ya, it has kind of a Stealer’s Wheel vibe:
One of my favorite version is Ace Frehley’s 1998 version. The Space Ace really rips it up on this one. I love the video, it’s like no one told Ace that big hair cock rock was out of style for 7 or 8 years by this time:
The most recent version of Do Ya was by sensitive folkie Neil Nathan for the Californication soundtrack. I can’t say I’m a big fan of the whole hipster with an acoustic genre but damned if Do Ya doesn’t work pretty well as a romantic song:
Do Ya is one our favorite songs here at Cheese Magnet and we hope new musicians continue to discover it and make it their own. Personally, I’m hoping for a Lady Gaga version.