February 1984

Article by Lydia Sherwood

R. Stevie Moore

   Although he has several vinyl recordings to his credit,
R. Stevie Moore still prefers making cassettes. Because
his musical influences run the gamut from "Frank to
Frank (Sinatra and Zappa), and both Johns (Lydon and
Lennon)" he's often labeled as eccentric as his logical
and noteworthy predecessors, Syd Barrett and Brian Wil-
son. Though he's not a homegrown Garden Stater (he's a
transplanted Tennessee boy with roots in Nashville) he's
helping to keep New Jersey a musical hotbed.

   Robert Steven Moore is the product of an early and
rich musical heritage. His father, Bob Moore, is a bassist
who sessioned with Elvis during the '60s and still backs
other country legends, including Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy
Orbison, Tammy Wynettes and Willie Nelson. R. Stevie
was inducted into the regime at an early age. At nine, he
sang the line "but I love you, Daddy" (sic) on a Jim Reeves
record and also appeared on a Heinz spaghetti commer-
cial. He later did session work, acted as a song promoter
---a "typical Nashville son's job"---and gigged the mid-
west in lounge bands.)

   Though he was surrounded by the cream of the coun-
try crop and regularly sat in on their recording sessions,
Moore took the scene for granted. "I never looked on
them as idols," he says "and though I guess I used to
marvel about being in a recording studio, after a while,
it was routine. I wasn't really going there to learn, it was
more like, going to meet dad at Columbia B studio."

   Moore has since learned to appreciate his roots but
back then, when the British invaded our territory,
Moore seized the opportunity to escape from a stifling
environment. "The Beatles turned me on to pop and
melody," he says. Moore's musical direction veered left,
and it's been headed even further ever since. A clash of
musical consciousness formed between Bob and son.

   Luckily, an emphatic uncle, Harry Palmer,
encouraged Stevie's inclinations (and eventually
prompted him to plant himself in New Jersey) and pro-
vided the necessary funds to release Moore's first album,
Phonography, in 1976. A subsequent EP, Stance, featur-
ing 4 (sic) tracks from Phonography and a second LP,
Delicate Tension, soon followed. These efforts garnered
praise from members of the press and a small but loyal
core of fans was established.

   Moore is proud of his previous vinyl efforts and is not
adverse to the idea of "letting other people put me on
record." In fact, a spring release is slated for What's The
on the Cuneiform label. "But it's clearly not my
motive, never was," he says about disc-making. He
points out that "only about 2% of my concern is towards
making records. The records that were made aren't
worse for, or better for, being records," he feels. Instead,
Moore is a stalwart proponent of the do-it-yourself home
recording method, firmly believing that it offers the best
approach to his creativity.

   "My music has always been 'radio show format' in
that it's presented one thing after another, with hardly
any spaces between. I also believe in spreading variety in
a program. Instead of just song, song, song, there should
be different moods; rock, jazz, parody, country, bad
quality on purpose, acoustic song, noise, spoken word."
(Moore also emplys this technique via his weekly radio
show on WFMU, located on the campus of Upsala Col-
lege in East Orange, New Jersey.) This philosophy dates
back to the "late '60s, early '70s when I first started
crafting what it meant to be not only a writer of songs
but also an arranger, by doing overdubs. That's become
my forte, even though it's not usually mentioned," he

   Indeed, his tapes (more often than not) are stunning,
atmospheric, collages intricately woven with pieces of
every one of those aforementioned styles, influences,
gimmicks, passing fancies and trends justaposed (or
simply hodegepodged) by the individual stamp that is
undeniably Moore's. He's a prolific artist and even if his
career is sometimes uneventful (he makes occasional live
appearances in the New York vicinity), he's always pro-

   Enter the R. Stevie Moore Cassette Club, which came
about during such a lull, as a direct result of the "Walk-
man" cassette boom. All of a sudden, much to the cha-
grin of the record companies (a favorite Moore topic --
write him and he'll be delighted to pontificate), cassettes
became an integral force in the industry.

   As Moore rightly points out, "Cassettes are flexible,
cheap and erasable. Home taping is steady and there's
magic in capturing spontaneity." With an advertisement
placed in a national rock publication, and a clever mar-
keting device utilizing "best of" compilation tapes
created with the assistance of crony turned public rela-
tions manager, Irwin Chusid, Moore was in the mail
order business.

   Ironically enough, sales were generated through the
notoriety that his records had created. His early and
longtime fans had been wondering where he disappeared
and even friends were willing to pay for the tapes that he
previously would give away. His current catalog features
almost 80 tapes captioned with "tongue in cheek"
descriptions (written by you guessed it!) and "listenabi-
lity quotients" (sound quality and "mass appeal" rat-

   Moore is clearly capable of creating accessible pop
tunes. Does he ever feel the pressure to renounce his
"anti-professional" tactics and "weird pop singer" cult
status to succeed on a commercial lebel? "So much so
that it turns full circle to where I'm just an everyman, a
humble southern man (his roots!). It's just coincidence
and (success) continues to happen, but I take it with a
grain of salt, tongue in cheek.

   "As much as fame is imminent," he continued, "and I
try to reach it, I don't really care whether I get it or not
because I'm doing what I want to do. Sometimes I pray
for the world to come around, instead of me coming
around to a concrete direction, because that's always
worked against me. I have too many directions, too much

   Until the time when this "world comes around" (Will
What's The Point!?! provide the turning point? Tune
in!), he'll continue to create music that has that "almost
self defeating" strange quality that "ruins it on pur-
pose." That intrinsic quirkiness defines his personality
and his music: bold, innovative, humorous, sincere. In
four words or less: More. R. Stevie Moore.

   For further information on R. Stevie Moore's tapes
write for your free catalog (which also includes some of
Stevie's noteworthy friends). Please address all inquiries
to: R. Stevie Moore, 429 Valley Road, Upper Montclair,
New Jersey 07043.


thanks to jeff tamarkin & ic



R. Stevie Moore and the Bongos
(lower front cover)