From: Philip Blackburn
Date: Tue, 05 Aug 2003
Subject: innova 601 new release: R Stevie Moore
Title: NEVERTHELESS OPTIMISTIC
Composer/Artist: R. Stevie Moore
Catalog: Innova 601
UPC: 7 26708 66012 3
File Under: Pop/Rock > Moore
Target markets: Midwest, California, New York, East Coast
STREET DATE: October 21, 2003
R. STEVIE MOORE has been an eccentric, reclusive home recording artist for over 30 years. Considered the grand-daddy of DIY home recording, Stevie has self-produced over 250 original tape/CDR "albums" and commercially released 16 compilations (on eleven labels in four countries). He has a catalog of over 1000 songs -- at least 435 of which are worth hearing.
Innova Recordings is set to become RSM's 12th label with a CD that culls 23 of R. Stevie's finest home recordings, from 1975 to 2003.
NEVERTHELESS OPTIMISTIC was produced by IRWIN CHUSID (of Raymond Scott, Esquivel, Songs in the Key of Z and Langley Schools Music Project notoriety). The album is a virtuoso showcase for Moore's popcentric vision and skill at screwing around with tape decks that don't always behave. Happy accidents make for unpredictable music in the hands of a man who never met a mistake he couldn't tweak to his advantage.
The album features collaborations with XTC guitarist Dave Gregory and Shimmy Disc maverick Kramer. It also includes a dubbed duet with outsider music scat legend Shooby Taylor, the Human Horn. The rest of Nevertheless contains lots of guitar weirdness, quirky lyrics, bastard bluegrass, and melodic ballads. Stevie plays most everything, and engineered it too. His daddy played bass with Elvis for ten years, but that's irrelevant. His back hurts. That's relevant.
* * * * *RSM's ALBUM PAGE
R. Stevie Moore press niblets:
Ira Robbins in the Trouser Press Record Guide: "The American record industry1s failure to recognize and promote the unique gifts of this giant talent is a case of criminal neglect."
Rolling Stone's Alt-Rock-A-Rama dubs RSM's 1976 LP Phonography one of "The Fifty Most Significant Indie Records" (March 1996): "[Moore is] the man who can safely be credited with bringing home recording to the forefront."
David Fricke on R. Stevie in The New Rolling Stone Record Guide (1983): "He... works in a peculiar corner of pop music space where the alien progressive rock strains of Eno and Fripp, the prankish gags of the Residents, and wholesome American sixties rock & roll intersect. What's even more peculiar is that for the most part it works."
Kurt Loder in Trouser Press on Delicate Tension LP (August 1979): "...a broadly eclectic album unified by a seductive pop-rock logic..."
Tower Pulse on Everything... LP (March 1985): "...an offbeat delight and true sleeper from a founding member and crusader of the growing independent cassette underground."
Underground reviews Teenage Spectacular LP (1987): "R. Stevie should be sponsored by the American people as one of the few realistic pieces of rock 'n' roll history they have left."
The Archive of Contemporary Music reviews Teenage Spectacular LP (1987): "...the crispness of the production only highlights those characteristics which endear him to his listeners: his cantankerous wit, his love of radio montage, and the incredible scope of his musical vocabulary."
The New York Times on a 1986 "Sings at Speakeasy" show: "Some of his selections... were only shards, a few lines long; others had recurring verses and choruses that expanded or shifted in asymmetrical designs."
Sounds (UK) on Verve LP (August 1985): "I believe this man is almost off his trolley, and if he didn't have a creative outlet for his fears Stevie would need an iced bath and a cattle prod in the genitals."
OP on What's the Point?!! LP (1984): "He does things within the standard forms that alter and slightly mutate them into something truly interesting."
Sounds (UK) reviews What's the Point?!! LP (August 1984): "What's the Point?!! is a wry and cutting document of a man with problems who hasn't lost his sense of humour." Five stars out of five!
Melody Maker reviews What's the Point?!! LP (August 1984): "...if only Stevie didn't feel it necessary to skirt half a dozen styles along with the same number of time changes in the space of a single song."
The Boston Phoenix reviews Everything... and What's the Point?!! LPs (May 1984): "...if it tries to cast Moore as a whimsical hermit, a coy Zappa clone, it also demonstrates the breadth of sources he commands..."
Profile in Goldmine (February 1984): "...his tapes... are stunning, atmospheric collages intricately woven with pieces of... styles, influences, gimmicks, passing fancies and trends juxtaposed (or simply hodgepodged) by the stamp that is undeniably Moore's."
Musician gets inside Stevie's gearbox (June 1983): "He gets by just dandy in one cramped corner of a room, nestled into a rat's nest of old boxes and electrical wiring that resembles nothing so much as the DANGER, DON'T DO THIS TO AN OUTLET drawings they used to show us in fire prevention classes."
SOME MORE RELATED REVIEWAGE:
THE SQUID'S EAR NYC
by Phil Zampino, publisher
R. Stevie Moore bills himself as an improvisor, composer, arranger, producer, comedy writer, and vocal stylist. He's also a songwriter of great character, having honed his style since 1975, during a long period releasing monthly cassettes of his songs and music to a network of devotees. This release accumulates songs from 1975 to 2003, a good representation of Moore's music with a few well known cameos such as Dave Gregory (formerly of XTC) and Kramer. Moore is no hit maker; his songs tend to be low-key and quirky, lacking bombastic highs and instead hitting comfortable grooves with catchy melodies, consistent in their ability to so.
The album presents 23 pieces, mostly songs with some instrumentals. Starting with the very silly "Hug Me," Moore equates himself to a teddy bear, a song you'd almost love to hate, except that it's so damn catchy. It's followed by follow a song that sounds like it's about to break into XTC's "Making Plans for Nigel," as aided by the aforementioned Gregory, but is instead a strange and complex song called about dating. Other song titles give a hint at the breadth of topics that Moore takes on, such as "Holocaust Parade," "Irony" or "Funny Child". Personal favorites include "The Man with the Cigar" about workplace angst and "I'm Looking Over a 4 Leaf Clover," which takes a sort of Fred Lane approach to its somewhat wacky music. Annoyingly clever songs like "Wayne Wayne" (go away) tend to stick in the head well beyond this listener's desire, while "Back in Time" employs well-crafted lyrics and has a great snakey guitar solo. "Pedestrian Hop" shifts in unexpected ways, working its way into a narrative list over guitar comping.
It must be pointed out that many of the songs use really cheesy orchestration, with bland organ parts and banal drum loops. That's a part of the charm, and the focus is on the songs themselves. At that Moore employs a wide variety of approaches to his music making, and ultimately he's a very adaptable musician who clearly loves to write and sing songs. It must also be mentioned that, while most of the tracks are good quality home recordings, they lack big production values or studio punch. If that's what you're looking for then look past this release, but you'll be missing an unusual set of songs from an accomplished songwriter.
Bowling Green KY
by Don Thomason
The underground king of DIY (or do-it-yourself recording) is now on CD. Will the earth split open? Innova, the label for the American Composers Forum, has released a CD of the nephew of Elvis Presley guitarist Scotty Moore (SIC!), who has spent the better part of 30 years recording his British Invasion influenced songs and off-the-wall creations at home on reel-to-reel machines and cheap cassette decks. This collection of 23 tracks culled from over 200 releases show a representative slice of the man Rolling Stone once recognized for his DIY influence on rock, whose music is too eclectic for mainstream rock/pop but too melodic and catchy to dismiss. Moore's cynical persona coupled with an almost-innocent earnestness has hooked many an underground listener, representative of the many internal tensions or conflicts in Moore's music. RSM fans will recognize his all-star cut Part of the Problem, a hooky pop/rocker that self effaces ("You are just part of the problem/I must be most of the problem"). Hug Me is a 75 second song ready made for kids whose melody can get in your head and stay there. R. Stevie also throws in some flowing rock guitar instrumentals (The Jinx, Cuss Me Out), a 1978 song Copy Me that could speak to today's file-sharing controversy, serious sounding songs with titles like Wayne, Wayne and One Moore Time, and a rendition of I'm Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover with scat-vocals by Shooby Taylor the Human Horn. Although the recording quality is uneven, those who venture into the world of R. Stevie Moore will find a documentary record of music that is, er, Moore than they expected. Find it at innova.mu or www.rsteviemoore.com.
*Don Thomason ~
*a/k/a firstname.lastname@example.org ~ OMC? We don't need no steenking OMC!
*Dunbar, KY ~
by Scott Schinder
R. STEVIE MOORE
Innova 601 (CD). 2003. Irwin Chusid, R. Stevie Moore, prod.; R. Stevie Moore, eng. AAD. TT: 70:25
Performance: five minus one stars
Sonics: three stars
Widely regarded as the father of home recording, lo-fi pioneer R. Stevie Moore has been making idiosyncratic, deeply personal and remarkably accomplished music on a budget since the early 1970s. Long before commercial channels existed for such left-of-center material, the Nashville-raised, New Jersey-based auteur (and son of legendary Nashville session bassist Bob Moore) was churning out a prodigious quantity of distinctive music, self-distributing literally hundreds of homemade albums via mail-order on individually dubbed cassettes and, more recently, home-burned CDRs.
Beyond his significance as a D.I.Y. role model, the prodigiously talented Moore is both an unpredictable iconoclast and a disciplined pop craftsman, coaxing an evocative range of colors from his relatively primitive gear and constructing miniature masterpieces whose emotional impact is deepened by their technical imperfection.
Moore has also issued occasional vinyl and CD collections through outside labels, most of them cherry-picking highlights from the artist's self-released catalogue. The latest of these is Nevertheless Optimistic, a typically all-over-the-map 23-track sampler incorporating tracks cut between 1974 and 2001. It offers a representative — and consistently endearing — cross-section of his work, from the screwy yet concise kitchen-sink pop of "Part of the Problem" to the modified Merseybeat of "Irony" to the daffy vaudeville of "Indian Giver" to the impenetrable slapstick sound collage of "Holocaust Parade."
Also present are a trio of winsome collaborations that contrast Moore's usual one-man-band approach. Former XTC member Dave Gregory adds some brawny fuzz guitar to a souped-up 1999 remake of Moore's 1973 charmer "Dates," while Bongwater and Shimmy-Disc founder Kramer produces the subversively cuddly "Hug Me." Given the recordings' disparate origins, the sonic quality varies, but technical fidelity has never been the point with this veteran iconoclast.
Elsewhere, a generation-spanning reworking of the pop chestnut "I'm Looking Over A Four-Leaf Clover" finds the present-day Moore seamlessly accompanying a mind-melting vocal recorded by outsider scat singer Shooby Taylor two decades earlier. But perhaps most impressive are Moore's intimate, gracefully gawky ballads; eg, the heartbreaking "Hobbies Galore," which invokes loneliness and alienation as eloquently as any pop song ever has.
In a field where adjectives like original and independent are thrown around all too casually, R. Stevie Moore is the genuine article, and Nevertheless Optimistic offers a beguiling overview of his unique talents.
24 March 2004
by Rob Horning
A pioneer home-recorder and a spiritual godfather of musicians like Guided by Voices' Robert Pollard and the Microphones' Phil Elvrum, R. Stevie Moore has been making and distributing his lo-fi pop under the radar of the music industry for over 30 years. Despite having been born and raised in Nashville, the son of a Music Row studio musician, Moore's work has little to do with the polished sounds of people-pleasing, radio-friendly country; musically, he's more influenced by the Beatles or the Move, with a bit of the anarchic spirit of Zappa or Syd Barrett, and his production methods -- part Joe Meek, part Mr. Microphone -- can generally be described as willfully primitive. Despite abundant songwriting talent and sufficient industry connections (his uncle was president of Atco Records, for example), Moore has chosen to remain peripheral to the music business, a fringe figure content to make music as a hobby rather than a profession.
It's important to stress the choice involved, because despite the nominal presence of Irwin Chusid, musicologist and author of a book on outsider music, and despite the hint of victimization in this album's title, and despite such song titles as "I Hate People", Moore's work doesn't sound like art therapy the way, say, Daniel Johnston's or Jandek's does, and Nevertheless Optimistic lacks altogether the voyeuristic buzz that can come from peering into the workings of a insane mind. True outsider art is fascinating because its makers seem compelled to make it, which allows us to marvel at the mystery of inspiration and of their motives while elevating them beyond suspicion. But Moore's work does the opposite: it demystifies inspiration and makes it seem accessible to anyone with a tape recorder. Ultimately, this may be a more important achievement. Not only does his rejecting fame and money become an act of integrity rather than sheer irrationality, but his songs are allowed to hew closer to their original moments of inspiration, allowing listeners to glimpse a different moment in the creative process and have that process itself become worthy of aesthetic consideration. As technology makes it easier and easier for people to make their own music, all that's wanting is the individual's belief that he can and should.
But if you have no interest in process as product or in becoming more self-sufficient in your entertainment needs, you might find Moore's hobby music a bit diffuse. The first two tracks, which give a hint of what Moore would be capable of if he embraced standard production values, provide the most customary listening pleasures: "Hug Me", recorded with Shimmy Disc honcho and joke-concept-rock aficionado Kramer, finds Moore singing a succinct and jovial love song in a genial country-gentleman baritone, and "Dates" is an engaging XTC pastiche that suitably includes that band's guitarist Dave Gregory contributing much of the backing track. These tracks are so conventionally pleasing that it sets up for a bit of a fall when we hear the much more characteristic hiss-filled song sketches that makes up the rest of this collection.
While these songs usually feature some melodic highlights, often in the form of a surprising bridge or chorus, they don't quite skirt the typical lo-fi pitfalls -- replacing real drums with unimaginative drum machine parts, the unnecessary repetition of verses, the absence of compelling solos, badly mixed vocals, and an indistinct fuzz around every potentially killer hook. When the lyrics are especially strong, or the haziness suits a particularly insular mood the musician is shooting for, these drawbacks can be overcome, but on these songs, that's generally not the case. Moore's words tend toward in-joke obscurity (as on "Wayne, Wayne" and "One Moore Time"), which is actually preferable to his more accessible jokes (as on "Blues for Cathy Taylor"), which just aren't funny. On "Back in Time", "In My Own Quiet Way", and "Love Is the Way to My Heart", he shoots for a middle-aged poignancy with some rather anodyne platitudes more befitting something considerably more mainstream than this. You listen to slightly eccentric troubadour types for idiosyncratic and surprising lyrical turns, not for homiletic clichés -- that's what Norah Jones and Adult Contemporary radio stations are for. — 24 March 2004
Dr. Demento sez:
Heard "Nevertheless Optimistic" for the first time today and felt like a monkey with a new banana. It even made Friday afternoon on the L.A. freeways bearable.
Another trawl through Stevie's huge cache of catalog, compiled by Stevie with old pal Irwin Chusid, who understands what makes a good RSM record. This has some classics (Part Of The Problem, Holocaust Parade, Copy Me, Pedestrian Hop, I Hate People) a lot of new stuff I wasn't familiar with, and two 'special' new tracks; one with Dave Gregory and one with Kramer. If R. Stevie didn't invent the 'lo-fi' concept, I can't imagine who did... [Innova]
Outsight Productions at Detroit Music said:
The eccentric, quirky music of R. Stevie Moore recalls Jad Fair and Daniel Johnston. Somewhat damaged pop and exuding a childish charm, this music also grabs the listener with its catchy, memorable lyrics and spirit of instant joy. R. Stevie Moore was a leader in the DIY home recording movement and this album selects from his huge archive of home recordings for a selection covering 1975 - 2003. Largely short on length, these pieces are long on comedic and cracked pop genius. (4 stars) a playlist
Found on the XTC/Chalkhills mailing list:
Thurs 12 Feb 2004 22:05:40 -0500
From: "J. D. Mack"
Subject: R. Stevie Moore
My new favorite album is R. Stevie Moore's "Nevertheless Optimistic"! I figure this is on topic because Dave Gregory contributes to one track.
The best way I can describe it is if Joe Meek had produced "Jules Verne's Sketchbook". The sound quality varies quite a bit (most of it was recorded on home recording equipment), and the production is . . . non-traditional at times. But the songwriting is so strong! It's very Partridge-esque at times. Not lyrically, but in terms of chords and melodies. When I listen to this album, I can hear all of these songs being covered by established bands and sounding great. A "Tribute to 'Nevertheless Optimistic'" album could be incredible - though I'm not trying to take away from the talents of Mr. Moore himself. His own performances of his songs are quite good despite their sketchbook feel.
If you subscribe to emusic.com, you can download this album (and as far as I understand, R. Stevie Moore gets paid). Otherwise, got to www.rsteviemoore.com or amazon.com and order it. If you have open ears, you won't be sorry.
Bart Plantenga (Amsterdam) at Perfect Sound Forever
BEST OF 2003
Cor Fuhler - DJ Cor Blimey & His Pigeon (Conundrum)
Serge Gainsbourg - Mauvaises Nouvelles des Étoiles (Mercury)
Adrian Sherwood - Never Trust a Hippy (Realworld)
Grand Mal - Perfect Fit (Unsound)
Blurt - The Fish Needs a Bike (Salamander)
Manasseh meets the Equalizer - Step Like Pepper (Select Cuts)
Various - DIScontact! III (CEC)
Arnold Marinissen - Traces of Cultures (BVHaast)
R. Stevie Moore - Nevertheless Optimistic (Innova)
The Magic Carpathians Project - Water Dreams (Fly Music)
The Black Dog vs Black Sifichi - Genetically Modified (Hydrogen Dukebox)
L'Ouef Raide - 13' a la Douzaine (Jarring Effects)
Philosophy Major - Hypnerotomachia (WordSound)
Various - The Ultimate Yodelling Collection (Castle Pulse)
The DeZurik Sisters - The DeZurik Sisters (Dr. Benway)
PO Box 5101 Hoboken, NJ 07030 broadcasting from Jersey City 91.1 FM/90.1 FM www.wfmu.org audio feed Brian Turner, Music/Program Director (201) 521-1416 x223 Heavy Airplay, June 3rd, 2004 SHARON TANDY - You Gotta Believe It's... (Big Beat) VARIOUS - So Young But So Cold (Tigersushi) HANS EDLER - Elektron Kukeso (Boy Wonder) END. - The Sounds of Disaster (Ipecac) BRUTE FORCE - Brute Force (Sepia Tone) KONK - The Sound of Konk (Soul Jazz) VARIOUS - Trojan Rare Groove Box Set (Trojan) VARIOUS - China: The Sonic Avant-Garde (Post Concrete) STARLIGHT DESPERATION - Violate a Sundae (Coup de Grace/Cold Sweat) MYLAB - Mylab (Terminus) R. STEVIE MOORE - Nevertheless Optimistic (Innova) JOLIE HOLLAND - Escondida (Anti) NOXAGT - The Iron Point (Load) CAETANO VELOSO - A Foreign Sound (Nonesuch) CALEXICO - Convict Pool (Quarterstick) BIG YOUTH - Ride Like Lightning: 1972-1976 (Trojan) CLOROX GIRLS - Clorox Girls (Smartguy) REMARC - Soundmurderer (Planet Mu) DAEDELUS - Of Snowdonia (Plug Research) VARIOUS - Their Sympathetic Majesty's Request Vol. 2 (Sympathy) DEATHPROD - 4CD Box (Rune Grammofon) OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW - OCMS (Nettwerk) THE FROGS - Death Songs (The Frogs) VARIOUS - Quisqueya: Dominican Music In New York (Smithsonian) VARIOUS - Toronto Is the Best! (Block Block Block) FREDDY FRESH - They Can't Compete (Howlin') MR. AIRPLANE MAN - Shakin' Around (Sympathy) GERALD HAWK - The Honey Guide Bird (Abduction) VARIOUS - Garage Beat 66 (Sundazed) NOONDAY UNDERGROUND - Set Sail (Vroom Sound) RPM List HANS EDLER - Elektron Kukeso (Boy Wonder) END. - The Sounds of Disaster (Ipecac) REMARC - Soundmurderer (Planet Mu) DAEDELUS - Of Snowdonia (Plug Research) VARIOUS - Dura Matters (Zod) PAN SONIC - Kesto (Mute) VARIOUS - MD8 (n5MD)
- And Rabbits Named Friday (Squirrelgirl) THOMAS BRINKMANN - Tokyo +1 (Max.Ernst) ELLEN ALLIEN - Berlinette (Bpitch Control) Jazz List BRUTE FORCE - Brute Force (Sepia Tone) MYLAB - Mylab (Terminus) PEOPLE BAND - 1968 (Emanem) THE TIPTONS - Tsunami (Spoot/Zipa!) KEES HAZEVOET QUARTET - Pleasure (Atavistic/UMS) CRAIG TABORN - Junk Magic (Thirsty Ear) EAST NEW YORK ENSEMBLE DE MUSIC - At the Helm (Ikef) HENRY KAISER & WADADA LEO SMITH - Yo! Miles Sky Garden (Cuneiform) PETER BROTZMANN CHICAGO TENTET - Images (Okka Disk) SIMMONS/MARCUS/ROSEN - Cosmosemantics Three (Boxholder) World List VARIOUS - So Young But So Cold (Tigersushi) HANS EDLER - Elektron Kukeso (Boy Wonder) VARIOUS - Trojan Rare Groove Box Set (Trojan) VARIOUS - China: The Sonic Avant-Garde (Post Concrete) CAETANO VELOSO - A Foreign Sound (Nonesuch) BIG YOUTH - Ride Like Lightning: 1972-1976 (Trojan) VARIOUS - Quisqueya: Dominican Music In New York (Smithsonian) DAVID DARLING & THE WULU BUNUN - Mudanin Kata (WMN) PRINCESS NICOTINE: Folk and Pop Music of Myanmar (Sublime Frequencies) BEGNAGRAD - Begnagrad (Mio) Loud List NOXAGT - The Iron Point (Load) VARIOUS - Space Is the Place Vol. 2 (Psych-O-Path) NECROFROST - Bloodstorms Voktes Over Hytrunghas Dunkle Necrotroner (Granskog) CONTROL - The Cleansing (PACrec103) SENSUAL ARMED FORCES - Hail Commander Fist In the Air (SNSE) WILL SODERBERG & FRIENDS OF THE KGPA - Las Vegas Trips (White Rose) A.N.P. - Live In Japan (Important) CORRUPTED - Se Hace Por Los Suensos Asesinos (HG Fact) PRURIENT - Shipwrecker's Diary (Ground Fault) EIKENSKADEN - 665.999 (Tumult) Hip-Hop List FREDDY FRESH - They Can't Compete (Howlin) BAD FATHERS & TACK FU - Evolution Is Outdated (Rosemary) RISING SONS - How We Get Down (Worldwise Innertainment) VARIOUS - The Third Unheard: Connecticut Hip-Hop 1979-83 (Stones Throw) FAUST/DALEK - Derbe Respect, Alder (Staubgold/Klangbad) VARIOUS - Embedded Joints (Embedded) ILL BILL - The Anatomy of a School Shooting (Psycho-Logical) BIZZART - Ear Drung (Sounds Are Active) PERCEPTIONISTS/4th PYRAMID - Split 12" (Def Jux) ENCORE - Real Talk (Hiero Imperium)
WBAI Playlist 12/03
Innova story in MPLS Star-Tribune, Feb 2004
NOTE: NO has NOT been targeted for release in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Baltic States, Belgium, Brazil, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Hong Hong (city), Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, nor the United Kingdom.
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