Balesteri Writes On Moore 1985 "Of R. Stevie Moore"
by Frank Balesteri

Originally conceived late 1985 for Spin Magazine
Undiscovered until Nov 2001..........
(typos intact)


        Are you bored, feel like you're missing something? Are you contented, don't worry about missing anything? Are you jaded, feel like there's nothing you missed? Or, are you one of the rest who simply feels that something's missing? One thing's for sure, whether or not you're anything you're probably waiting for something. Oh, on other thing is certain: R. Stevie Moore is at home, without a doubt, and waiting, too. Waiting for you.
        I've betrayed your trust. He isn't without a doubt. You see, for every well-documented musical success story there's been an equally classic choir seeking asylum without having their arrested development jailed and locked into that inhibitive prison sell you inhabit while figuring out the tastes of the public and gearing your musical crimes toward that unspontaneous definition. The sentence for image-conscious fashion eggs devoid of yolk is: life. Life as a rolling stoned humperdinck jones playing hits and versions to an audience whose color lies between fuscia and shecky green. Unlike Iggy Pop, R. Stevie doesn't want to be a criminal. Because of that, he remains a living room celebrity.
        Here is a pamphlet from his coffee table.
        R. Stevie Moore was born in g-clef, raised in Elvis' RCA Studio sessions and babysat by Roy Orbison. As a nine year old, he sang on Jim Reeves' "But You Love Me Daddy," and was responsible for a whole generation of kids calling stringy pasta "pasketti" due to a national radio spot for a famous tomato paste. During his teen years, he played sessions with the Manhattans, Perry Como and many others, culminating with an appearance onstage with dixieland legend Al Hirt in a New Orleans bistro.
        Nashville, Tennessee, the current home of blown-dry crossover cowboys, was young Stevie's base of operations. It provided excellent opportunities for a budding virtuoso; and, because his dad was a member of the RCA Studio A-Team, Steve could've licked the icing of nepotism into a lucrative career in the family-oriented, g-string rated country music industry. Instead he turned the cakewalk into a pie and hurled it at Opryland Theme Park, Inc. (Incidentally, his father still tours with Jerry Lee Lewis playing hits and versions etc.)
        Inbetween the earresponsible bombardment of the silent majority by those who ran the instant-gratification- doomsday machine show, and today's computer repackaging of same for the pavlovian youth market of the 80's, a fantastic thing happened to R. Stevie's learned musical talent. The fallout from sensory pearl-harbor of the emerging electronic entertainment age landed on him. It created quite a stew. Shanks of progrsessive rock, cornpones of classic country music, stax of muscle schoals, a steaming heap of Fugs as laid by the uncurbed Bonzo Dog Band, bits of Roy Wood, seeds of Syd Barrett, soured cream of the Mothers of Invention, spiced with neo-classical tongue etudes of Lenny Bruce, and boiled by the Firesign over the hot coals of the British Invasion. Very few people in Nashville would break their traditional diets for a taste of the exotic delight of R. Stevie Moore's sound.
        Frustrated, he was wooed northward to Upper Montclair, N.J. by his uncle Harry Palmer who appreciated the unique expression his nephew was passionately committed to putting down. At one time, Harry Palmer was the leader of a psychedelic Boston-based group named "Ford Theater"; he knew what it was like to be different. The good uncle financed three vinyl releases of home tapes recorded by Stevie in crude, makeshift living room studios both in Nashville and New Jersey. Phonography, the first album, Delicate Tension, the follow-up, and the promo only 12" Stance were heralded for their verve, humor, and the hybrid of musical observations that forced the creation of a singular style. Publications like the defunct Trouser Press and New York Rocker blared their inky megaphones yelling about the wonderkind's synthesis of sound. Everyone who heard the records agreed that Mr. Moore was the missing link in the hyphenated genre chain. It seemed that finally, this southerner's gumbo had fallen into the laps of people without scalding or scolding them.
        Punk ideals imploded throughout the underground media. Energy, fire, water & brimstone all congealed to build a firm financial foundation and bring home the bacon of this new music to the combination stodgy, staid, burned out, hippie carpetbaggers occupying the mansions of the song salesmen. Beyond the new profit margin on the horizon lay the oasis of a chic fountain of youth created by the new wave. The culture vultures swarmed, circled, picked clean the bones of our own naive belief that the industry was born again and infused with the spirit of dedication to material substance. In its wake we were left with 1950 Limbos for Bimbos, 1960 pendulum sambas, 1970 wango tangos and 1980 mambos for Rambos. Let it be said now that R. Stevie Moore beat a hasty retreat like any friendly human wide-eyed fan thru the living room and into the bedroom.
Stevie continued writing songs and going about the business of life, of which he committed nearly every waking moment to tape. Word of mouth about these cottage of collage cassettes spread among those who owned the now out-of-print albums. The tapes, presented in a free-form radio style, feature the prolific explosion of influences that everyday life offers including the settling (or unsettling) dust. By virtue of his earlier misfortunes he has become a modern day Aaron Copland thru the medium of cassette tape. R. Stevie Moore is a living statement of this century's music.
Once interest began blossoming again, Stevie created a cassette club where his uni-directional conversation could be received like a magazine among the curious subscriber. The enrollment in his personal parlor game of entertaining education bloomed to a couple of thousand. It was no longer a trivial pursuit, and because no plans were made, that made it a bona-fide phenomena. But what is an R. Stevie Moore cassette likie? Where do I meet it? What time?
        Without leaving your leaving room (just like drugs) you can take a walk with your friend thru the tin pan alley separating the avenue of classic timelessness and the street of paved gold product. Philosophy without the heavy hand. Specially designed suits for coeds with two pairs of pants, that moaning sound can be worked into the quilt by Stevie the Tailor (mood alterations free of charge). Tone-poems, neo-classico piano scrolls, symphonic ballads for the sensitive x-chromosomes that have split with their whys, extroverted rock and roll songs that look inward. In short, the beautiful aural equivalent of Ernie Kovacs. Beauty that can be likened to running into a crowded fire and yelling THEATRE! Conflagrations of tape loops, snippets of isolated dialogue, and a blaze of overdubs so thickly layered it melts the tar that holds the feathering to the melody.
         The songs go opposite when least expected and strike a atch over those things that do go wrong and make a light of them. In the mountainous psychological region of peaks and valleys, Stevie lays you in front of the damn and drips on you until you stick your finger in and say: "what's that?"
        Enough people have asked that question over the past three years, a white-house papershredder full of information has been exchanged, and thru the glitzy gloss of the "after-everything" follies of the eighties a backlash beacon has begun to filter thru. Three independent lp's of selected material from Stevie's vast cassette catalogue have been released to ecstatic reviews from the talent-starved music-crit animules. A double pocket overview on the French 'New Rose' label titled "Everything You've Always Wanted To Hear (sic) by R. Stevie Moore" etc is a good novical start. The American "What's the Point" and the English "Verve" continue to bring things full circle. In fact New Rose Records president Patrick Mathe has supplied Stevie with the monetary resources to record his first sixteen-track record not entirely consisting of home tapes. It is a cause for rejoicing, but only if mor of us decide to take a more active role in the unraveling of our musical heritage. Otherwise, there's a na, in a bathroom full of sand, mooning the bathtub.
        Then what is his burden for 1986? (last paragraph)
        Woe is the new broom that sweeps clean the pidgeonhole. If it isn't another bulldada prototype, then we're getting the Heimlich manuever from media hype. A retro band from the Cafe-Wha' with a hey-na-nanie and ha-cha-cha, post-punk green jades with a black shroud bring noise from industry while it wonders aloud: "The end is near, isn't it?" "And if it is, do I get paid?" "Will I get laid?" "Will I get to travel to foreign lands?" "Can you ever get back to holding hands?" It certainly is staggering. 7", 12", EP, LP, CD, 4-track home cassette portajon-studio tapes comin' in the mail. Before the flood, after the deluge, in the wake of the flood I'm left with a shining neon ginsberg polemic, bouncing like a kero-wacky pogo stick. Melody is ultimately what leaves you remembering the color of anyone's musical parachute, and if that person's put in their time, you naturally wonder, like any good blue-collar employee in life's corporation "Where is my promotion?" R. Stevie Moore has cast aside his pale and shovel, he is the new boom, bring him to your living room, he's tired of standing in the bathroom sand just 'making waves.'
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