R. STEVIE MOORE
Cherry Red Records (UK) CDMRED413, 24 August 2009
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 Play  First Hand  We Love Ourselves, Don’t We  You Love Me, Do Something  Horoscovia  Alecia  Jump Out In Front Of A Car  New Strings  21 Mules And Mutants  I Loved You  All Well And Good  Elation Damnation  Outpatient  How About Writing Me A Goddamn Song?  The Whereabouts  Misplacement  Ryman Auditorium  Why Do You Hate Me So Much?  Let's Rest Together  U.R. True  That Long Walk To The Barn 6AM Unlisted track:  Outtake
> > > 1976-1994 R-chives selected + compiled exclusively by RSM with Richard Anderson
. . . . . Liner note essay by Dave Gregory
> > > Graphic photography and designs by -max- and Pual Northcott
. . . . . Kids love Highn's Pasketti
Released in the UK on 24/08/09. Cherry Red’s second journey into the heart of RSM’s extensive catalogue sees the universally acknowledged “Godfather of Home Recording” further explored, following 2008’s “Meet The R Stevie Moore” (CDMRED348). This time we’re jumping from ‘76 to ‘94 and back again…..
21 slices of home baked lo-fi genius pie from a genuine underground legend, meandering from perfectionist pop to strung out beatbox angst via country, melacousticonica and something that sounds suspiciously like hair metal... Packaged, as ever, with style and panache, the album's booklet contains a wonderfully complimentary essay from long-time RSM champion Dave Gregory (of XTC fame) and fantastic cover art by Harsdsparrowe.
It’s a shame that whenever R. Stevie Moore’s music is brought up for consideration in the media, the focus of attention invariably falls on the lo-fi form rather than the rich and varied content. Most famous for being the world’s longest-surviving “Freeform D.I.Y.” artist, more has been written about his lack of care in the area of aural fidelity than the music itself. For me, he’s a seriously underrated maverick talent, the Neil Young of the real underground - so many of his songs are surely hits-in-waiting for that nation of aspiring artists lacking a half-decent idea. Admittedly his subject matter may not always be comprehensible to the record buyer on the street, but his lyrics are intelligent and/or downright funny, he knows how to string a sequence of chords together and he has a gift for melody that many a more “successful” songwriter would envy.
I first became aware of Stevie’s music somewhat belatedly in 1995, having been presented with a copy of a 10” 9-song EP, “Revolve”, by his then distributor in Germany Joachim Reinbold, owner of Pink Lemon Records. Though I didn’t take to it immediately there was nonetheless something about it that kept me listening; songs like Don’t Let Me Go To The Dogs, It’s What You Do (It’s Not What You Are) and the sublime Play Myself Some Music displayed a highly developed pop sensibility supported by some very obvious musical smarts. After mentioning this discovery to a mutual friend in New York, Mitch Friedman, bulging envelopes soon began arriving in the post from The Artist himself, stuffed with hand-labelled, tobacco-flavoured CDRs, vinyl LPs and singles; only then did I discover exactly how prolific he had been, how bizarrely intriguing so much of the music was, and what a deep un-tapped well of talent was hidden beneath the wow-and-flutter and hiss.
R. Stevie clearly gathers influences from a wide field that stretches from the country and western traditions of his birthplace, Nashville Tennessee, through early rock’n’roll, sixties’ British Invasion pop, psychedelia, free-form jazz, seventies’ rock, punk rock and beyond. Having grown up in the ’fifties and ’sixties, and with a record player at the centre of his universe, he’s absorbed every style from five decades of music without prejudice, and recycles it in his own uniquely entertaining way. Whatever commercial potential his work might promise, to kowtow to the whims of the record business would not fit with R. Stevie’s view of the world, and so he continues to plough his own furrow, happy to follow the fickle muse wherever she may lead. The end result is a diverse, somewhat uneven musical harvest that nonetheless yields buds of pure gold.
Not that he has ever made the listening experience easy, even for the most dedicated. Distorted speech, gnarly guitars, verbal studio verité, outlandish taped conversations and telephone pranks are all fair game to R. Stevie, and either serve as loopy links between tracks, irritation-factor over-dubs, or the basis for entire songs. Such indulgences have been known to put off even the most committed of his audience in the past; fortunately, the good people at Cherry Red Records, together with The Artist himself, have compiled this second digitally laundered compendium to follow “Meet The R Stevie Moore!”, which should cause offence to none but the most pernickety. “Me Too!” comprises recordings from as far back as 1976 (the frantic blues-punk opener Play, as fun a song as ever came out of the New Wave period), through to 1994 - a busy year it would seem, providing 6 of the 22 tracks contained herein.
Other highlights you will doubtless enjoy are the delightful and melodic Alecia, a cute musical birthday card to a 12-year-old; New Strings, celebrating the simple joy of playing on a freshly-strung guitar; I Loved You, a hilariously po-faced monologue to a former lover set against what sounds like some un-disciplined King Crimson experiment; Ryman Auditorium, a touching tribute to the citizens of his birthplace; and the baffling Outpatient, R. Stevie’s voice and guitar in competition with a frustrated telephone caller trying to reach a record company in Los Angeles to un-block his sink - you figure it out! And the bonus track that closes the collection could not be more appropriate...
R. Stevie Moore: singer, songwriter, story-teller, multi-instrumentalist, dead-pan comic and International Treasure; really, what is there not to like? May he continue to entertain and amuse us for years to come. Meanwhile, enjoy compilation #402, and, if you dare, there’s a whole universe more to be discovered at www.rsteviemoore.com
Dave Gregory, Swindon Wilts. June 2009
BELLA NOTTE PASKETTI
REVIEW SOTHER MUSIC, NYC
He's a gifted musical savant and the son of a legendary Nashville studio musician. He recorded a hit song with Jim Reeves when he was only seven and he issued his first home-recorded, self-released album in 1976. He is considered to be the godfather of DIY pop with luminaries such as XTC, Ariel Pink, Robert Pollard and Yo La Tengo citing him as one of their chief musical influences. So why has R. Stevie Moore wallowed in obscurity for so long, barely even registering as a blip on the indie-rock radar? It could possibly be that he is simply too prolific. Moore is said to have released some 400 albums in his lifetime, so needless to say his discography is pretty daunting. Thankfully, Cherry Red has taken on the task of filtering through some of his work in the hopes of exposing the masses to Moore's homegrown splintered pop music.
This is the second R. Stevie Moore "best of" compilation that Cherry Red has released, and this edition is curated by Dave Gregory, the former guitarist of XTC. Like the aforementioned artists, Moore takes great joy in effin' around with pop conventions and he mixes-n-matches disparate styles of music at will. This whole album is a wonderful collection of cool ideas, even great ones, but Moore's natural ADD tendencies mixed with that urge to mess with the form can sometimes leave songs sounding half-finished and jokey, which can be frustrating. "All Well and Good" could be an amazing, heartfelt, acoustic breakup ballad if it weren't for the throwaway honky-tonk verses. "Outpatient" starts off as a brilliant Neil Young-styled snapshot ode to a hospital stay, and then it devolves into a bizarre prank call skit to a fictitious record company executive. It's a shame, because when it all comes together -- like on the fuzzy, power-pop album opener "Play," the new wave-tinged "First Hand" and the quirky CSNY tribute "The Whereabouts" -- Moore's pop songwriting genius can't be denied. On the whole, his music is never boring and he's a true American original who deserves to be respected for his uncompromising vision. Even if you are a passing fan of any of the aforementioned artists, you definitely need to familiarize yourself with R. Stevie Moore, and this is a great place to start. [DH]
Before the likes of Ariel Pink, The Animal collective & John Maus; R. Stevie Moore was making odd, off- kilter pop & singer songwriter music that mixed all manner of genres in a quirky & often ramshackle, but strangely inspired manner. This fabulous compilation brings together of a selection of his work from the mid 70’s up to the early 90’s. Since dropping out of Vanderbilt University in 1971 Moore has released numerous albums on many independent labels, as well as producing more then 400 self released tapes and cdrs of his very distinctive, quirky yet often highly creative & enjoyable music which has elements of: 70’s rock, pop, punk, folk, country, new-wave, psychedelic & the odd wayward avant-garde tendencies. And there’s awful lot to like & ultimately love here as we go from: The wavering high pitched vocals and acoustic strummed folk pop of “We Love ourselves, Don’t we”, onto the sneering Zappa like wonky slowed doo-woop & unhinged psychedelic barbershop singing of “Horoscovia”, through to bizzaro Whiteman rap over big beat, hand claps & cut guitar strums of “21 Mules & mutants”. Into the new-wave & punk lo-fi guitar chug & geeky vocals of “Misplacement”, onto the slowly sliding pitch & off centre country strum meets slightly uneasy pop of “Let’s rest together”. Really where ever you drop down in these 21 tracks your going to find something worthwhile, quirky;that’s sometimes daring & a little odd, but ultimate is very rewarding & original.
Truly “Me Too” is a wonderful insight & small look at the huge body work by this truly one-off & creative artist who’s been ploughing his own distinct path for well over 30 years now & mixed musical genres with great talent, quirky intent, invention & a good ear for off- kilter yet memorable songwriting. // Roger Batty
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