Tuesday, March 28, 2017

R. STEVIE MOORE: Everything You Always Wanted To Know... available on CD!


OUR STEVIE writes about R. STEVIE

    I have a lot of favorite bands and albums (in the hundreds… if not thousands!) but I can count on one and a half hands those PIVOTAL albums that made me listen to music differently. They were albums that opened up my mind to new and exciting ways of hearing music and appreciating the way it was created. The Beatles and The Monkees released albums that I heard as a young child in the ‘60s that placed me firmly on the musical path I now travel. The Jam’s THIS IS THE MODERN WORLD was another. The Last’L.A. EXPLOSION was yet another. Shoes’ PRESENT TENSE is right up there as well.  Can’t forget Yacht’s S.O.S.!

     In late March or early April of 1984, EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT R. STEVIE MOORE..., a 2LP set, became one of the most significant life-changing albums I’ve had the pleasure to experience.

     I had been reading about R. Stevie Moore in Trouser Press magazine and was anxious to hear him. By that time, he had released numerous home-recorded cassette albums but there was very little available on vinyl at the time. And if you could find one of the vinyl albums (PHONOGRAPHY and DELICATE TENSION were the two I knew of at the time), you might have to pay a pretty penny for it. I appreciated that he had a huge catalog on cassette but I was hesitant to plunk down money for a cassette… mainly because every cassette I played more than half a dozen times was eaten by the variety of tape decks I owned through the years. They were good for making mixtapes for friends but I would never want to actually PLAY one because of the dangers involved!

     In all my musical travels up to that point, I’d never really experienced many lo-fi, home recorded or private press albums. Shoes’ BLACK VINYL SHOES was about the closest I got. I had heard of them and probably seen a few but my money went to Punk, New Wave, Synthpop, Power Pop and other types of music released on well-known indies and major labels.  You know, the stuff you’d find in most Licorice Pizza/Music Plus/Tower Records type chain stores. Most of the stuff I bought was pretty well-produced and I couldn’t fathom what a bedroom recording would sound like. With that being said, I was still on the prowl to find something – anything - by R. Stevie Moore. I read about how great the songs were and that is what was important to me – the songs!

     So, in early 1984 while I was at Los Angeles’ Aaron's Records on Melrose, I was flipping through the new import LP arrivals and stumbled upon EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT R. STEVIE MOORE..., a newly-released 2LP compilation. I flipped my wig. Since I couldn’t afford it all, I put the albums that I had in my hands back in the bins and bought this album instead. I was NOT disappointed. Compiled from his vast cassette catalog, EVERYTHING is pretty much a ‘greatest hits’ collection. The LP was jam-packed with songs of all sorts: Pure Pop, Country, Punk, Art Rock, Folk Rock and even some experimental audio tracks. Moore, who is an insanely talented multi-instrumentalist, was completely open to creating music that moved him. The sky was the limit. No boundaries, no restrictions. Everything PLUS the kitchen sink. Whether he was singing with a lazy Southern drawl or an affected British accent, it all felt so natural. His voice bounced from a relaxed baritone to frenetic falsetto in no time flat.  This was -and remains - strange, weird and beautiful music.  It wasn’t Classic Rock, Power Pop, New Wave, Punk or whatever else I was listening to at the time – it was all of that and Moore! While it felt like the work of ten deranged men, it was actually the work of one tremendously talented, eccentric and eclectic musical force.  And his name was R. Stevie Moore.

     EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT R. STEVIE MOORE...,, as strange as it was, offered many melodies that still bounce around in my head 33 years after I first heard them. Actually, almost 33 years to the day! Once I heard this collection, I was able to listen to home recordings by other artists with an open mind. I was able to listen to raw, crude recordings and appreciate the SONG above and beyond the production value - which was not as bad as the words 'bedroom recording' would have led me to believe back then. However, none have come close to capturing the magic contained on this collection. Let me be perfectly clear, though: it is not easy listening if you have been raised on the processed, manufactured music played on Top 40 radio. That is not a warning- that is a f***ing invitation!

     Cordelia Records has done us all a favor and released this mind-blowing release on 2CDs (including some bonus material). It is essential listening for music lovers.  Is it the greatest Rock compilation ever released?  That is an opinion that you should make on your own. However, it is a stunning introduction into a different world where music has no limitations. If you've never heard R. Stevie, then let this release be your gateway into RSMville.  You won’t want to leave. Or it will scare the sh*t out of you!

P.S. R. Stevie is still making music and has just released MAKE IT BE, an album he recorded with Pop wunderkind Jason Falkner, on Bar/None Records.

Keep on truckin'!
Stephen SPAZ Schnee

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