Spin Magazine, Jan 2002

SPIN MAGAZINE January 2002, page 113



Moore, Moore, Moore!
By Douglas Wolk


R. Stevie Moore: He writes the songs
that make his world sing.

The cassette under-
ground of the '80s––
people banging out
home recordings and
selling tapes of them
through the mail––
was all but eradicated
by the ultra-cheap
dissemination of
MP3s. So it's surpris-
ing that most of the
original heroes of the
tape era have a Web
presence, however
limited.   Manic
depressive weirdo

Daniel Johnston has his own site (hihowareyou.com), which has only
one actual song (emusic.com has a lot more). The tender Baltimore
singer/songwriter Linda Smith is selling CD-R transfers of her
old tapes and new stuff (homemademusic.com), but the previews
offered include only one new song. Even the hilarious id-gone-wild
duo WCKR SPGT appeared to have fallen completely off the Inter-
net map for awhile, though they've recently returned with a new
site (wckrspgt.cjb.net).
      Then there's R. Stevie Moore, who's posted about 30 of his greatest
non-hits on MP3.com and none on his own site (rsteviemoore.com).
Since the late '60s, Moore has recorded about 300 "albums" of
songs at his New Jersey home and kept them "in print" by means
of a tape deck (and now a CD burner). He's best known for '60s-
inspired power pop in the XTC vein, but he's open to recording
any music that allows him to sneak in his dry wit. (He is surely the
only songwriter ever to rhyme  "contagious illness" with "Brazil
nuts.")   At MP3.com, Moore clearly has had fun with the site's
requirement that all songs be listed by genre. "Dates," featuring
a guest appearance by XTC's Dave Gregory, is arguably "Britpop,"
and the cheerfully hyperkinetic stomp "U. R. True" more or less
qualifies as "Glam," but "Times Have Changed" will definitely
surprise anyone who downloads it expecting "Deep House." And
"Dewey Decimal System" would only count as "Classic Rock" in
a much better world.
      Moore's cult may be small, but it's devoted. One Seattle band,
the Bran Flakes, has even constructed nearly freeform MIDI
instrumental versions of a batch of Moore classics (angelfire.com/
) They're somewhere between a piano roll
threaded in backwards and Cecil Taylor operating on a full
bottle of apricot brandy, and they sort of miss the point, because
half the fun of Moore's songs is hearing how human his voice is.
He strains for high notes, he leaves his fumbles in, and he's rarely
in tune––"Goodbye Piano" was inspired by the disastrously
off-key instrument it's played on. Still, the pure pleasure of singing
radiates through his tunes, maybe because he doesn't have to
please anyone beyond himself. "Play myself some music/Listen to
Side 2 first," he sings, sounding like nothing in the world could be
more comforting. |||||||||||

    r. spin doctor diagnoses his
    best wishes to mr. charlie daniels

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