Lisbon, Portugal
Musica - Sexta-feira 15 Agosto 2008

R. Stevie Moore
in the suburbs of oblivion

"Meet The R. Stevie Moore" is the first serious anthology of one of
the pioneers of independent music. 40 years of home-made songs,
looking for somebody to listen to them. Pedro Gomes

He made silly videos singing at home (before there was
youtube and myspace, before internet and before MTV)

The progressive creative movement usually comes from the clash between the "status quo" and a voice which proclaims other truths. It's born out of the explosive bursting of adolescence, of the will to say something which has never been said before, or simply from a desire to change a reality which we don't like, that doesn't adapt to us, or at least, to what we idealize. It's therefore, regular and repetitive and ciclic (even if it comes late) the absorption of all these movements of rupture by society. Society takes its time, creates its own combat victims of combat, appears adapted and transmuted by so many things, celebrates its heroes and pioneers. Or maybe not. In the "dictatorship of originality and oblivion" of today (to cite Lourenço Viegas, a gastronomy critic), where the market sells the concept of difference and idiosyncrasy to everybody in the same way, the world still goes round as it used to do - the rupture is, by nature, an act condemned to marginality.

    A living proof of that sort of phenomena: R. Stevie Moore. Legendary song writer, has just seen released the first serious anthology of his work. Self-proclaimed (because it's true and because he enjoys the cult of personality) precursor of Home-Recording and videoclips, editor and distributor of his own music, Lo-Fi visionary, he's the father of the self sufficient underground, in a 35 year career where he released more than 400 long-play records. However, he's more of a complimented name than an acknowledged artist.

Son of Bob Moore, Elvis' bass player during the 60s, he grew up in the middle of one of the golden ages of southern American music, in the Country circuit of Nashville at the time, with his father, one of the most experienced session musicians of the area. Before being old enough to have a decent erection, he was already doing sound collages and exploring keyboards and reel-to-reel tape recorders that his father had around the house. He began listening to Sparks, Beatles, Zappa, Todd Rundgren or The Move and having the proverbial pop dreams. The uncle, his first business mentor, began early to accustomize the young boy to self sufficiency, a trail to which he had to dedicate himself until today - he's still obliged to keep a day job which he would rather not have.

    His sound deals with pop music in a unrestrained manner. Listening to his records, like Stevie himself admits, is like listening to old FM American radio in the 60s - he mixes every kind of language assimilated by popular culture, in a constant and heterogeneous flux of information: from the Power Pop of the Big Star school to the Hip Hop of the 80s, from intimate piano laments to cut-up works., voice pieces somewhere between radio commercials, spoken word and stand-up comedy. His most evident features - a pop sensibility, an impressive capacity to orchestrate and arrange, tense and capable guitar, an electric bass with just the right amount of fuzz, voice normally filtered by a short delay and a rough reverb in just the right measure, the compositional metric and song structure - remain intact from 1968 to 2008. Writes some songs (a lot) about girls (but even more about himself), others about how he digs being at home, others are little hymns to solitude. His poetry is of self flagellation. It's caustic and melancholic like all the misunderstood, who are tired of being so.

    An influence on 80s Pop luminaries like Andy Partridge (from XTC), he's a milestone in the affirmation of Lo-Fi as an aesthetic and as means of independent liberation in the following decade. People like Guided By Voices, Pavement, Sebadoh, or the designated collective of Elephant 6 (Olivia Tremor Control, Apples in Stereo, Minders, etc) may have had existed without Stevie Moore, but the modus operandi which made them notorious (and which was seen at the time as revolutionary) has a precedent of 20 something years which sounds as sophisticated (or more) as any other practitioner of this ethic and aesthetics.

  He made silly videos singing at home (before there was YouTube and Myspace, before internet and MTV), and invaded children's shows in American TV. He has also, for decades, the RSMCC (R. Stevie Moore Cassette Club), which became the RSMCDRC (R. Stevie Moore CD-R Club), through which he burns, packs and sends his sound to the whole world. Throughout his career, except for some independent labels in Europe and USA, most of the sales are done from his own house. Like he sometimes says, with almost 6 decades of life he feels as if he's still twenty years old and is just getting started.

    Gathering many songs and music pieces between 1974 and 1986, Meet The R. Stevie Moore, released by the british seal of Cherry Red, is a privilieged occasion to enter the universe of the man and the myth. After a couple of years where the cult, once again, gained new life - from the inconditional admiration expressed by Ariel Pink and the visual artist David Shrigley, which included him in his very talked about project Worried Noodles, this is a precious moment for him to achieve new audiences and get his long waited recognition.

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