Personnel includes: R. Stevie Moore (vocals, various instruments); Shooby Taylor, Krys O, Gary Moore (vocals); Dave Gregory (guitar, bass, drums); Billy Anderson (keyboards); Mark Cudnik (drums).
Personnel: R. Stevie Moore (vocals, guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, keyboards, drums, hand claps); David Gregory (vocals, guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, drums, background vocals); Krystyna Olsiewicz (vocals); Mark Cudnik (drums).
Recording information: Bloomfield, NJ (01/1974-??/2003); Madison, TN (01/1974-??/2003); Maplewood, NJ (01/1974-??/2003); Nashville, TN (01/1974-??/2003); New York, NY (01/1974-??/2003); Swindon, Wiltshire, England (01/1974-??/2003); Upper Montclair, NJ (01/1974-??/2003).
Director: Philip Blackburn.
Arranger: R. Stevie Moore.
One of R. Stevie Moore's occasional releases on an outside label (in this case, the Minnesota-based avant-garde imprint Innova, better known for releases by the likes of Harry Partch and Anthony Braxton), the 2003 compilation Nevertheless Optimistic is closest in style and intent to 1993's excellent Contact Risk. These 23 songs include many of Moore's poppiest and most accessible tunes, but by including tracks like "The Holocaust Parade" (the first half of which is a bewildering sound collage built around an isolated vocal track from 1977's "Dance Man") and a duet with the outsider music hero Shooby "the Human Horn" Taylor on the old chestnut "I'm Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover," the collection hints at the oddities waiting for those who wish to explore further into Moore's voluminous back catalog. Ranging in time from 1974's "Moons" (a glorious electronic hymn that's among Moore's most endearing songs) to a 2001 collaboration with New York noise-hipster Kramer, the songs on Nevertheless Optimistic -- the title comes from 1978's "Norway," which ironically isn't on the album -- are as musically wide-ranging as one would expect from the terminally eclectic Moore, and just as fine. For the sake of change, the most familiar songs here appear in different versions than usual: for example, "Part of the Problem" and "Hobbies Galore" are the original recordings from 1978 and 1975, respectively, not the better-known remakes from the '80s albums Glad Music and Teenage Spectacular. Similarly, this version of 1973's "Dates" was recorded in 1999 with former XTC guitarist Dave Gregory playing all the instruments (throwing in a sly quote from "Making Plans for Nigel" at the beginning) and singing backing vocals. ~ Stewart Mason