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R. Stevie Moore: R. Stevie Moore (1952-19??)

Album Notes

A scattershot collection of 1976-1986 recordings by Nashville-born, New Jersey-based home recording pioneer R. Stevie Moore, (1952-19??) focuses on Moore's stranger material instead of his more straightforward pop songs. However, unlike 1985's Verve, which was released by a related label, this 22-track collection also avoids Moore's noise collages and most aggressive experiments. The songs mostly stick to traditional verse-chorus-bridge structures, but they're full of unexpected melodic shifts, idiosyncratic arrangement choices, and playfully bizarre lyrics. Mostly, the best songs are those that combine Moore's oddities with the strongest and most interesting melodies. In this respect, the Ramones-like "Jesus Rocks," which advocates staying home and listening to records on Sunday mornings instead of going to church, and the almost orchestral overdubs of "Technical Difficulty," about the mechanical frustrations of Moore's life as a bedroom-based one-man band, are the album's two highest points. Conversely, the overlong "Oven Love" is too muddy and the ranting "Sox" too annoying to have much impact. Two of the more interesting experiments are reworkings of songs that had appeared on earlier Moore albums. On 1978's Delicate Tension, the title track was a Hatfield & the North-like jazz-prog instrumental. Here, Moore sings new lyrics over the original recording, which adds an interesting new texture to the song. The 1983 re-recording of Phonography's "Goodbye Piano" is less successful, largely because it lacks the manic quality of the original and substitutes a chorused synthesizer for the out-of-tune piano. ~ Stewart Mason


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