TUSK / University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
Aug 29, 1985, Page 7


Rock's voice is 'a guy who works hard'


   Certain rock-critical types are getting all worked up these days over who should hold the title of Rock's True American Voice. The names most often mentioned are John Fogerty and Bruce Springsteen, but hey – let's face facts. It took Fogerty more that ten years to come up with one album's worth of fairly innocuous retro rock and roll songs (and we all know the true American credo of wretched excess is "Too much is not enough"). Springsteen, on the other hand, may sing about the working classes, but he's too rich.
   Allow me to submit another name for the title of Rock's True American Voice. It's the name of a guy who works hard. He is a guy who is at least as complicated as America and records the equivalent of an album every few weeks. He is R. Stevie Moore of Nashville, Tennessee by way of Upper Montclair, New Jersey.
   Who? What? Well, like America herself, R. Stevie Moore (to be known from this point forward as RSM) isn't all that easy to explain. See, anything you can say about the United States is true. We represent five thousand years of planetary culture tossed into a Cuisinart and set for "puree." America is Beaver Cleaver and Eldridge Cleaver and Leonard Bernstein and weird drugs and Chuck Berry and John Cage. America is all about putting your nose to the grindstone, your shoulder to the wheel and your money where your mouth is. And so is RSM.
   His life is his art (literally), and he's set a large chunk of that life down on more than 150 cassettes of music (and other sounds) written and recorded at home over more than ten years.


Enterprising musician R. Stevie Moore
of Nashville, Tenn. may be aspiring for
the title of Rock's True American voice.

   Moore's music is hard to pin down. It encompasses everything from smart, tuneful pop to deranged noodling, from Beatles and Beach Boys covers to Enoesque synthesizer panoramas.
   He's listed (and praised) in both The Rolling Stone Record Guide and The Trouser Press Guide to New Wave Records, and his album releases have garnered glowing reviews from music publications in England, France and Germany, as well as the United States.
   Why RSM hasn't yet been signed to a major label remains one of life's perplexing mysteries. Near-terminal misanthropy may be a major reason – RSM's sense of the perverse is highly developed. Whatever the cause of this senseless omission, the main source for RSM music is the man himself, through the auspices of the R. Stevie Moore Cassette Club.
   The price of a 39 cent stamp gets you a copiously annotated "official tapography" detailing the RSMCC's one-hundred-plus cassette releases. There are literally days of music available here on 60 and 90-minute cassettes that contain sparkling pop songs, audio collages, depressing monologues, weird in-jokes, successful experiments, failed experiments, telephone conversations, searing electric guitar, funny noises and more. In a world of soulless, freeze-dried pop music, RSM offers an embarrassment of riches. You may find his mistakes more interesting than the latest big-time rockstar hype. Then again, you may not.


This wasn't a bad piece before some 19-year-old brain-damaged journalism major got hold of it. He cut any reference to "Everything" and "What's the Point" as well as the paragraph with your address (while leaving in the 39cent stamp reference). Also completely rewrote a couple of paragraphs, rendering them semi-incoherent, and got my byline wrong (it's Bob).

Anyway... passing it along for your edificaton/ amusement/ whatever. Do you have any other correspondents here in Tuscaloosa?

Later. (If you want more copies, let me know.)