Tuesday, 13 February 2018

R. Stevie Moore "Phonography" 1978 US Private Psych Prog Pop,Power Pop,Art Pop,Experimental


R. Stevie Moore  "Phonography" 1978 US Private Psych Prog Pop,Power Pop,Art Pop,Experimental
full bandcamp
https://rsteviemoore.bandcamp.com/album/phonography

watch….

http://www.moorestevie.com/press/wire12.html


One of the most unique albums of the 1970s, R. Stevie Moore’s debut long-player is an uncategorizable mess that somehow keeps from falling apart completely, kind of like a one-man band version of the Beatles’ White Album cross-pollinated with late-1960s Frank Zappa at his most antic. Yet just as the album seems hopelessly self-indulgent and bizarre, Moore suddenly veers into some of the sweetest and catchiest pop songs of the pre-punk ‘70s. That dichotomy is what makes Phonography special. Recorded in bits and pieces over the course of two years of living room sessions, with Moore playing and singing every part, barring the tambourine on the Soft Machine-like opening instrumental “Melbourne,” the album shares much with such one-man band predecessors as McCartney, Todd Rundgren’s Something/Anything?, and Roy Wood’s Boulders. However, having been made on a cheap four-track with one microphone, a borrowed guitar, and no mixing deck, Phonography also has a funky lo-fi charm that anticipates post-grunge D.I.Y. savants like Guided By Voices and Pavement. (Also, the wordless vocals and skittering analogue synths in the middle section of the lovely closing track, “Moons,” sound uncannily like Stereolab would over a decade and a half later.) The album is split down the middle between quirky but capable pop songs and strange interludes. Of the former, “Goodbye Piano,” a falsetto music hall ditty that suggests a major Bonzo Dog Band fixation, is among Moore’s most famous tracks, but it’s the more serious tunes, like the beautiful Brian Wilson-inspired ballad “I’ve Begun to Fall in Love,” the bouncily Beatlesque “I Want You In My Life” and the trippy “Showing Shadows,” that are more indicative of the artist’s estimable skills as a songsmith. The spoken word interludes are uniformly surreal, with the Harold Pinter-like talk show parody “The Lariat Wressed Posing Hour” a particular highlight, but the album is organized to such an off-the-wall blueprint that it’s impossible to imagine it without even its most inexplicable elements. Originally released in 1976 in an edition of 100 copies, Phonography was reissued in 1978 and again in 1998 on a limited-edition CD featuring eight bonus tracks recorded during the same 1974-76 sessions….by Stewart Mason….~


Phonography marks the vinyl debut of R. Stevie Moore, and remains one of his most popular releases. It’s easy to hear why this is the case, with its signature RSM attributes like indisputably strong songwriting, top-notch musicianship, spoken work, humor, and a prophetic and iconoclastic DIY esthetic. 

Start with: “Goodbye Piano” and “She Don’t Know What to Do With Herself” 

Why it’s worth revisiting: R. Stevie Moore’s first LP, this home recording masterpiece was dubbed one of the “Fifty Most Significant Indie Records” by Rolling Stone’s Rob O’Connor in 1996. Easy and fun to listen to, it’s a classic in its own rite, and a great introduction to RSM. 

The eerily atmospheric synths of “Melbourne” give way to a brilliant series of chord changes. Though an instrumental album lead-off track might be unorthodox for some, anyone familiar with R. Stevie Moore’s albums knows it’s commonplace in the world of RSM. The track has the feel of a pop-rock overture, but doesn’t reveal the contents of the album that awaits. “Explanation of Artist” is a brief spoken autobiographical piece of sorts, with RSM talking as he urinates in the restroom. “Goodbye Piano” – an offbeat R. Stevie Moore classic – follows immediately. Reverb-laden falsetto vocals, a strong melody, playful percussion, and clever chord changes played on a the very piano that inspired the song* make this an eccentric gem. Stevie’s seemingly casual approach to the song (we hear what sounds like a mic being bumped at one point, and an exclamatory “Sorry!” after an apparent mistake) is just the sort of characteristic that has endeared the “Godfather of Modern Home Recording” to legions of underground fans in the years following this release, and it’s a treat to hear it so early in his fabled body of work.
“Explanation of Listener” echoes the approach of the earlier “Explanation of Artist”, with RSM commentating on found spoken word (RSM confirmed this for us). “California Rhythm” pleases on several levels with its bizarre intro, groove shifts, backing vocal harmonies, hooky lyrics and melody, and delectably dirty guitars. “I’ve Begun to Fall in Love” is a stellar example of the poignant and more introspective side of RSM. The spoken word in “The Spot” seems to be a verbatim excerpt from a bank advertisement before “I Want You in My Life” enjoyably chugs along, leading to the off-kilter fun of “I Wish I Could Sing”. As the title suggests, “Theme from A.G.” is a brief, fun, and worthwhile RSM interpretation of the theme from The Andy Griffith Show. The pure spoken word (sans musical accompaniment) of “The Voice” precedes “Showing Shadows”, which in turn yields to an RSM classic, “She Don’t Know What to Do With Herself”, a brilliant track that kindred spirit and collaborator Ariel Pink would cover two decades later.
“The Lariat Wressed Posing Hour” might best be described as an interlude sketch mimicking a fictional TV show. “I Not Listening” initially appears to lack the luster of much of the rest of the album, but warrants repeated listenings. Especially given its context of a self-recorded album in the mid-70s, the track is compelling. “Mr. Nashville” is a return to RSM’s spoken word sketches, and possibly a reference to his own music biz experiences in his native Nashville. “Moons” is a discombobulated treat with its rough edges that handsomely reward the patient listener. …..by….Bobby Weirdo….~


Phonography was Stevie s first LP release, and an out-of-the-blue masterpiece: terminally idiosyncratic but with all the compositional qualities of great pop. A gifted songwriter, R Stevie (son of Bob Moore, Elvis bassist) grew up and was steeped in Nashville s countrypolitanism; but, as a recidivist rebel, he inevitably slipped into strange byways, following his own, unique path into celebrated obscurity - as this strange and compelling record attests. 
Hans Arp said, My paintings are like fingernails: they keep growing and I keep cutting them off . R Stevie s songs seem to follow the same rule. They create worlds, tell stories, trifle wantonly with form, harmony, structure and execution, and throw off passages of casual brilliance on the way. Lo-fi is integral to its purpose. You can t pay to get a sound like that. 
So, when nobody seemed to want to keep Phonography in print, ReR Megacorp were happy to oblige - it s history. We took the opportunity to re-master and restore it to its original form. 
Instruments used: Red plastic Hagstrom electric guitar, Gibson SG Junior electric guitar, Fender Precision Bass, Yamaha acoustic guitar, Alvarez classical guitar, Premier snare drum, upside-down cardboard box bass drum, various full drum kits, Fischer grand piano, Franz metronome, Maracas, Tambourine, Cry Baby Wah Wah pedal, Jordan Creator sustain pedal, Korg synthesizer, Elka string synthesizer, Magnus chord organ, Realistic frequency equalizer, Maestro phase shifter, Univox echo chamber, hi-hat cymbals, extra cymbal (old), Panasonic cassette player, Koss and Vanco headphones, Fender Twin Reverb and Eenque amplifiers, Cords, Picks, Voice…..~


i believe most of these songs were recorded as early as 1973. 'phonography’ is the earliest example of lo-fi home recording whimsy intended for official release that i can name. i’ve been a big fan of his for several years,used to have an original vinyl copy of this album that i very regretfully sold. 
“goodbye piano”(which was released as a single backed with the lesser “i wish i could sing”) is a tale about a piano getting sent back to the manufacturer due to lack of funds to keep it around. as the said piano gets plonked away on, moore sings in one of the most delightful, childlike falsettos i’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing. 
“california rhythm” is a groovy mid-tempo rocker with some nice surprises. moore has almost always played all of the instruments on his releases. being the son of a nashville session musician probably gave him alot of oppurtunities at a very young age. “i’ve begun to fall” is a stunning laid back lament. again in falsetto, r. stevie sings over some of the most complex chord progression that still comes of smooth and easy. incredible. 
“i want you in my life” would win the heart of any girl. moore has a way of sounding friendly and sincere that sends a track like this through the roof. with it’s weird parts and time signature changes and everything. “i not listening”, my recent most favorite, is psychedelic in it’s own unique way. nobody does it like r. stevie moore. 
there are alot of tracks here. some are instrumentals like synth-led album opener “melbourne”, but there are also alot of cute and weird little 'skits’, usually featuring moore chatting with himself. on “mr. nashville”, a deep, slowed down voice tries to sell himself to an a&r man who sounds so realistic in his response that one assumes moore certainly went through this situation first-hand. on “theme from a.g.”, the andy griffith theme gets a beating from about as many guitar overdubs as we all have fingers and toes! 
“moons”, the closing song, is another that is winning me over. like “i not listening”, “moons” is very psychedelic and thoughtful. it is acoustic based and features little more than keyboards, guitar and singing. this one man band is very off-kilter for most, but his songwriting/performance abilities make him by far one of the most interesting artists i could possibly name. any given ten professional songwriters are about a third as good and about a hundred times more popular….by…a owens….~



I’ve had a soft spot for R. Stevie Moore ever since I first heard this album a few years back. Along with Ariel Pink, Moore has become an artist who I am fascinated with personally, which is why I am very excited about the upcoming Cool Daddio documentary about the man. This is a man whose artistic output has always been his own. I have never heard anything else quite like R. Stevie Moore. I loved how he played practically every instrument himself, and that most of his material was recorded on a makeshift studio in his living room, or his apartment. I’ve always held the upmost respect for musicians of this caliber; the independent songwriter toiling away with what he has, and creating something beautiful and awe-inspiring even with the meagre means afforded to them. 

When I first heard this album, I immediately fell in love with it. I had never heard anything quite so off-kilter, yet so immediately inviting as this album. Even Ariel Pink’s early material took some time for me to enjoy fully. I knew that by the time I got to California Rhythm, I had fallen for this album. The first 5 tracks in themselves contain a wide range of musical styles, but all filtered through a weird outsider lens. Even with the quirks that this music has, it’s still just damn fun to listen to, which just further testifies to the quality of the music here. 

The wide range of styles employed on this album are so vast, and still executed with such successful results. I will never understand why the man never became more well-known. Granted, he is surely not a radio-friendly musician. His music is just a bit too weird for the radio, but he still should (in my opinion) have a bit more fame in the industry. It kinda breaks my heart to see the way he talks about his career in interviews and documentaries. You can tell that he is frustrated and growing tired of not getting the recognition he deserves. 

And, by God, is he ever justified in feeling that way. 

After diving a little deeper into Moore’s discography, it became clear to me that Phonography was not his strongest collection of material (my personal favorite is “Swing and a Miss”. Even so, I still regularly play songs off of this album. Hell, even the skits here hold up on repeat listens, speaking for the man’s wit and sense of humor (The Lariat Wressed Posing Hour always entertains me). 

I wrote this (very messy) review more as a way of putting down the feelings I have about R. Stevie Moore and his music. It’s fair to say that out of all the musicians I’ve ever listened to, I have the most respect for R. Stevie Moore (though Freddie Mercury is pretty close). And of course, it goes without saying that R. Stevie Moore is one of my favorite artists of all-time. 

Long Live R. Stevie Moore…..by…CoalFelps ….~


This is lo-fi, but it still sounds better than certain Guided By Voices albums recorded many years later. The super cheap nature of the album is pretty charming, honestly. It really feels like you’re hanging out in R. Stevie Moore’s basement listening to him play all these weird songs he just wrote. 

And weird songs they are indeed effortless segue! This might be the most surreal of Moore’s LP releases. There’s a lot of slightly irritating but funny skits between the songs, a lot of bizarre little pieces like “Goodbye Piano”, and even the relatively straightforward pop songs are filled with weird synth squishes, guitar squiggles, and general odd noises. It would be spooky, if it wasn’t mostly easy-going and goofy. 

Song favorites include the friendly-but-tense instrumental opener “Melbourne”, previously mentioned and obnoxiously catchy clever novelty “Goodbye Piano”, the atmospheric and psychedelic “Showing Shadows”, fun time weird pop “She Don’t Know What To Do With Herself” and “I Wish I Could Sing”, and actually really difficult to describe strange hypnotic closer “Moons”. That last one might be one of my favorite R. Stevie Moore songs no one seems to talk about. Dig that omnipresent ping-ponging synth! 

Ultimately, whether or not you’re gonna get along with this album probably mostly depends on whether or not you can get in on that Zappa-esque/Sparks-esque/Ween-esque/etc. vibe of balancing on the edge between earnestness and yanking your chain. If it all sounds like a bit of a joke to you, go listen to Glad Music and then come back and realize how great these songs are. If not, proceed to Delicate Tension and Swing And A Miss. Personally, this one’s not my favorite, and the skits annoy me a little sometimes, but I can definitely understand why this is still the quintessential R. Stevie album. 

p.s. The Bandcamp/CD version of this album comes with 8 bonus tracks presumably culled from the same period the main tracks of the album came from, including early versions of “Why Should I Love You” and “Hobbies Galore”, which would be rerecorded 10+ years later….by…gazoinks ….~


Phonography was lo-fi legend R. Stevie Moore’s first vinyl release - only 100 copies were pressed in 1976. The album (including a slightly larger 1978 pressing) barely earned the artist lunch money. But Phonography has since become the cornerstone of the Do-It-Yourself movement, while establishing Moore as the Granddaddy of home recording. Both Rolling Stone and Spin have proclaimed it one of the most influential independent releases of the past 50 years. Phonography was recorded by a self-taught control-freak, using cheap, malfunctioning analog equipment. Robert Steven Moore was born in 1952, in Nashville. His dad, veteran bassist/producer Bob Moore, taxied between sessions for major stars (including Elvis Presley). But Stevie preferred Brit Invasion, Zappa, Brian Wilson?s idiosyncratic arrangements, and outliers like the Shaggs. At the urging of his supportive uncle, Harry Palmer, he moved to New Jersey in 1976. 

He has self-released hundreds of albums on each successive era’s format du jour (cassette, LP, CD, digital download). He’s had vinyl and CD compilations produced worldwide on two dozen indie labels. For a songwriter with a massive catalog of prime material, Moore’s revenue stream has barely afforded him the luxury of replacing gear plagued by worn-out switches. Yet most of the surviving labels who turned deaf ears to R. Stevie Moore are now, like him, struggling to make a buck on their catalogs. Their corner-office execs come and go. R. Stevie Moore is still here…..~



This record was compiled from home tapes recorded in Nashville, Tennessee between 1974 and 1976 by R. Stevie Moore. 
Originally released on Vital Music in 1976 (this edition was pressed on 100 copies for demonstration purposes and reissued on the HP label in November 1978.) 
Phonography is a solo work, overdubbed on Sony & Teac ¼ track stereo tape recorders at leisure.








Tracklist 
A1 Melbourne
A2 Explanation Of Artist
A3 Goodbye Piano
A4 Explanation Of Listener
A5 California Rhythm
A6 I’ve Begun To Fall
A7 The Spot
A8 I Want You In My Life
A9 I Wish I Could Sing
A10 Theme From A.G.
B1 The Voice
B2 Showing Shadows
B3 She Don’t Know What To Do With Herself
B4 The Lariat Wressed Posing Hour
B5 I Not Listening
B6 Mr. Nashville
B7 Moons 

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