R. STEVIE MOORE
ARIEL PINK'S PICKS VOL. 1
Laughable Recordings (cassette) 2011
Personal Injury 2LP, 6 January 2015
01. Mason Jar 4:22
02. Don't Be Ridiculous 2:02
03. She's Dead 3:03
04. Girl Go 3:31
05. Come My Way 2:58
06. Here Comes Summer Again 4:36
07. Father Goes 6:24
08. We're In Vietnam 4:27
09. My Bad Music 5:29
10. Right Perfume Wrong Mouthwash 2:49
11. Benefit Of The Doubt 4:10
12. The Winner 3:31
13. Cuss Me Out 3:11
14. I See Stars 4:42
15. Johna's Theme 3:16
16. Safe, Reliable and Courteous 8:39
17. No Zipper 4:09
all songs composed by R. Stevie Moore, published by Spunky Monkey Music (ASCAP)
orig cover photo by Krys
sleeve design by Joslyn Crocco
STREAM + DOWNLOAD AVAILABLE @ BANDCAMP
R. Stevie Moore
Ariel Pink’s Picks Volume One
by Stewart Mason
Because R. Stevie Moore has been so prolific for so long, most of his LP and CD releases have been career-spanning compilations that cherry-pick the compiler’s personal favorites from across the decades. Which means in part that aside from their consistently high quality, each compilation is pretty much down to the curator’s tastes. Ariel Pink, who was known in the tape-trading underground as an R. Stevie Moore superfan way, way before his major-label deal (he once wrote and recorded a song called “R. Stevie’s Brain”) naturally appears to favor the RSM songs that match his own personal style. So this batch of songs dates, non-chronologically, from between 1973 and 1984. This isn’t so much because those 11 years were the high point of Stevie’s career — he’s done fantastic work before and after that stretch — but because that’s clearly the musical era that’s closest to Ariel Pink’s heart. Even a casual listen to one of Pink’s albums makes it plain that he’s well-versed in vintage Top 40 sounds from the classic rock era, which constantly reveal themselves in idiosyncratic ways in his own songs. That description also fits R. Stevie Moore, whose love for sturdy, melodic pop songwriting underpins even some of his most freewheeling experiments. It’s telling that one of the oddest songs here, the nearly nine-minute stylistic collage “Safe, Reliable and Courteous,” also features probably the most insidiously catchy hook line of the bunch. Elsewhere, it’s hard not to just lay out some of the high points one at a time. “Benefit of the Doubt” bounces along on a rubbery, melodic bass line reminiscent of one of Paul McCartney‘s more upbeat Wings-era rockers. “Here Comes Summer Again” is a synths-and-harmonies bit of sunshine pop more effective than anything on The Beach Boys Love You. “Girl Go” sets a yearning falsetto melody against a thumping two-step drum machine beat. “Come My Way” is as affectionate a ’60s pop pastiche as anything the Flamin’ Groovies ever did, but with a purer rock ‘n’ roll heart. “Father Goes” and “Don’t Be Ridiculous” are fine examples of Stevie’s moodier side, all close-miked acoustic guitars and vocals, while the woozy “We’re In Vietnam” matches a Rundgren-esque melody to a lost-love lyric that matches Harry Nilsson at his most endearingly scabrous (“Now she’s gone and I couldn’t give two shits…I do miss her tits”). At 17 tracks spread across four sides of hot-pink vinyl, Ariel Pink’s Picks Volume One holds together as a solid introduction, but if this is your first R. Stevie Moore album, know this: as great as these songs are, they’re not even the really top-shelf, classic Stevie. (Wait till you hear “Hobbies Galore,” “I Wanna Hit You” or “Part of the Problem”!) There’s so, so much more to discover. |_|
REVIEW BY STEVE SPAZ SCHNEE
The granddaddy of DIY recording, R. Stevie Moore is a unique artist that exists in a musical world of his own. He’s been releasing lo-fi home recordings for 40+ years and he is adored by a devoted global fan base yet he is still largely unknown to an audience that could really benefit from his vast repertoire of music (and R. Stevie can benefit if a new generation of fans bought his music!). I’ve been a fan for roughly 30 years and I don’t even own a smidgen of what he has recorded. I’ve always told myself that if I won the lottery, I’d buy one of ever R. Stevie release. So far, no lottery for me but I still intend to live up to the promise if it ever happens.
Looking over his catalog, it seems as if RSM releases everything he records, whether it is an avant-garde instrumental, a metal freak out, a twisted cover version or a pure pop nugget – no genre is left untouched. Some might say he releases ‘too much’, but I beg to differ. The charm of R. Stevie is the fact that there is such a variety to choose from that you’ll find something to fit every one of your mood swings. Creatively, he never fails to amaze. His audience is made up of people who love the unexpected and our man Stevie sure gives it to them! There are those that love his more experimental side and those who love his pure pop side (like me) but acclaimed indie artist Ariel Pink seems to love a bit of all of it. He chose his favorite RSM songs back in 2006, although nothing came of his list until 5 years later when they were compiled on a limited edition cassette. Now, nearly four years later, those songs are released here on vinyl and it is a perfect introduction to those who have not picked up the other RSM compilations over the years. Each comp released so far are unique and amazingly varied and Ariel Pink’s Picks Volume One is no different. This is a compilation that is filled with humor, melody, exceptional musicianship and some of the strangest and most beautiful melodies you’ll hear gathered together on any RSM release. Is it commercial? Hell no. Occupying a musical universe that exists somewhere between The Residents and Todd Rundgren, Ariel Pink’s Picks Volume One will warm the cockles of your heart and scare the bejeezus out of your grandparents. It is creative, inspiring and other-worldly. Many albums released in this day and age are shit, but Ariel Pink’s Picks Volume One is THE shit! |_|
If the notion of another solid R. Stevie Moore compilation doesn't excite you (it should!), then hear me out, as this latest comp was curated and assembled by his most famous fan and co-signer: Ariel Pink. Comparisons between these two have never ceased, nor should they be taken lightly, for both have and forever will be kindred spirits in their respective work and practice. Arguably the progenitor of the prolific pop art brut, Moore's work has always been impossible to pin down and keep tabs on. And on first glance, a compilation could only complicate things more.
However, in spite of the threat of inconsistency drawn by the conceptual schizophrenia of Moore's work, there is a map that listeners can follow throughout Ariel Pink's Picks Vol. 1. Showcasing some familiar pop troping from Moore -- highlights include the Kinksian romp "Come My Way" and the Pet Sounds riffer "Here Comes Summer Again" -- Mr. Pink guides the listener through a constellation of pop tropes conjured up by his mentor's wild brain. In total, what you end up reading in Pink's Picks is an alternate, uncanny history on the book of pop and how to write it -- penned by Moore, edited by Pink. |_| Reviewed by Ian Judd, 28 January 2015
CONSIDERING "R. STEVIE MOORE - ARIEL PINK'S PICKS VOL. 1"
by Anders Larsson, February 12, 2015
The good people at Personal Injury Records were kind enough to send me a copy of a new collection of R. Stevie Moore music. Compilations - official and otherwise - of the modern home recording pioneer's music abound, but this one is particularly notable because the songs have been handpicked by Moore's pink-headed stepchild, Ariel Pink.
To the uninitiated, the two artists may seem an unlikely pairing, but they have much in common, including a knack for making the off-kilter accessible, creating melodies and lyrical phrases that quickly and pleasantly take root within the first or second listen (despite unconventionality), and let's face it -- these two guys like stirring it up (Ariel Pink's recent statment that Madonna approached him to collaborate on her new music had Madge's people scrambling to deny any such claim). Both artists embrace controversy, Twitter battles, and photoshopped memes -- pretty much anything that keeps the conversation going.
And going it is. Both artists are undeniably on a trajectory (even if a humble one, in comparison to mainstream voices and faces populating our radios, streaming services, award ceremonies, and reality TV shows), that can only be described as an unrelenting, upward one. So what better way to keep the ball rolling than a rubber stamped collection of the master's work by his successful, influential, and younger counterpart? Sort of a modern-day Ravel and Debussy, if you will (and I think you will).
I suppose there are two main things to consider here: First, there is the music itself, and then there is the matter of the how well this collection works as a cohesive representation of the distinguished Mr. Moore's work. The first question is one I think I can answer with relative ease, though admittedly and unabashedly from the perspective of a fan. The second matter is a bit more opaque, since I have not seen or read anything explaining Ariel's motivation or parameters behind the selections.
Thanks to the compilation's title and cover alone, many new ears will find their way to the wild, sometimes perverse and befuddling, but also beautiful and rewarding world that R. Stevie Moore creates for us. Even without RSM staples like "I Like to Stay Home" or "Conflict of Interest", this group of songs is sure to snare new, avid fans. Styles and decades are spanned and represented in this collection, so even if a stray song here or there eludes a particular listener, another is sure to appeal.
Moore's love for, and intimate familiarity with, 20th Century pop music is evident throughout the compilation. "Here Comes the Summer Again" is paramount to a Beach Boys tribute, with it's layered vocal harmonies, quarter note keyboard pulse, and reverb-laden percussion. You can practically hear Carl Wilson and Mike Love singing during parts of the this RSM pocket symphony. In typical Moore fashion, the references seem closer to The Beach Boys Love You and Friends than anything before Pet Sounds, so there's plenty of opportunity for the father of modern home recording to flex his unique creative muscles.
The completely instrumental "Cuss Me Out" is a particular favorite of mine. Its cinematic character is such that it would have fit well into a classic surf film, or perhaps a more mellow scene featuring one of Russ Meyer's beauties.
Songs like "Johna's Theme" and "Benefit of the Doubt" demonstrate the master's ability to churn out quirky-yet-accessible gems, and both of these could easily have found a home on the Beatles' White Album (a work for which RSM has expressed fondness). The above references all include the caveat that Moore's work is uniformly and unquestionably his own, though I do feel listeners will have fun catching the references. You end up wishing Moore had been your Music Appreciation teacher in junior high, distilling the history, and then turning it into something altogether new, fun, and a bit weird.
Other highlights include the clever, and deceptively sophisticated "We're Not in Vietnam" and "Mason Jar" -- quintessential RSM with its curveball drumming, infectious guitar riffs, and (if my ears don't deceive) a happily yelping dog. And how can you not give a song entitled "Right Perfume, Wrong Mouthwash" a chance?
If Ariel Pink's aim was to intrigue and invite those previously unfamiliar with RSM's music, as well as create an appealing package to existing fans, I'd say he's succeeded here. More established followers of Moore's music may debate the merits of this song over that one, or suggest songs absent from this particular collection (it's worth remembering that the album is titled Vol. 1) then that fits perfectly with the Moore/Pink model of collaborative discussion, debate, and controversy.
One the whole, the collection is a sincere and worthy snapshot of this brilliant musician's unconventional and ground-breaking career. This album will absolutely remain in my permanent collection, and I think that in the end, both artists might tell us the same thing: let's keep this conversation going. I know I will. |_|
R. Stevie Moore – Ariel Pink’s Picks 2XLP [Personal Injury]
I interviewed Ariel Pink once in 2004, just after I had seen he and his crack band struggle mightily at SXSW. Back then he was a confused kid in his mid-20s, getting heat from Pitchfork critics, trying to put an adequate live show together, and staying with his parents (with no plans to move out) in San Diego. Among the many themes repeated by the plucky Pink was his absolute adoration for R Stevie Moore. Strangely, I’m just now getting around to hearing Moore’s music for the first time, a full decade after Pink practically begged me to check it out. I suppose I was reticent to pick up Moore’s myriad material because I figured it would be even more rough and ragged, fidelity-wise, than what Pink was composing back then. On that point, I was dead wrong; the works of Ariel Pink’s Picks are of decent sound quality. The reason Moore’s songs are so interesting has less to do with lo-fi production than the odd twists and turns written into them and his whimsical voice, cushioned between the influence of Syd Barrett and any number of outsider ’70s folk musicians/Zappa acolytes. This is loner/bedroom pop before it was known as such, and even today the reverberations can be felt. I’m sure Pink’s 2014 single “White Freckles” would have existed in some form had Moore’s “Cuss Me Out” not preceded it, but it wouldn’t have achieved the resplendent tone it carries now. The selections of Ariel Pink’s Picks (which was compiled by Pink in 2006 and first released in a quickly sold-out cassette edition by Laughable Recordings in 2011) range from happy, cleanly played punk to sunny post-Kinks rockers to off-kilter ballads, each cut retaining the oversized Moore personality even when the vocals don’t appear. If you’re a sucker for dumpster-diving in the annals of pop, or Quinn Walker, or the Gulcher label, you’ll have no problem making yourself at home in Moore’s bedroom-cum-studio. |_|