An unpredictable pairing produces everything you didn't expect.
In 1996, R. Stevie Moore released his 113th album. It was called “The Day the Earth Stood On Stilts”. That’s kind of all you need to know about him. Mr Moore’s discography is littered with gems like that…” Pleasant Tents”, “Embarrass Paris”, “Phlegm Soundtrack” ….the hits just keep on coming. The man has a sense of humour and a hell of a work ethic. In the time it’s taken me to write this first paragraph, he’s written another two albums.
His latest release “Make It Be” is a lot of fun. Co-conspirator Jason Falkner (ex-Jellyfish) has added a sheen of professionalism to Mr Moore’s Lo-Fi sensibilities without ironing out too many of his more interesting kinks. It’s got a lovely “Captain Beefheart meets Badfinger” sort of vibe. And if that sort of thing appeals to you, you can be my friend.
All tracks crossfade into each other, with bizarre spoken word rants dovetailing into jazzy instrumentals and cool power pop tunes rubbing up against Huey “Piano” Smith covers, knitting together some of the more disparate sounding pieces with the more traditional. Market that, Mr Record Company Executive! Falkner is an inspired choice for a collaborator, having a strong pop sensibility and a very useful multi-instrumental skillset. These tunes have had their hooklines pushed to the fore and they sound all the better for that treatment, but there’s still a heapin’ helpin’ o’ weirdness: “That’s Fine, What Time?” sounds a bit like Yello, which is not a comparison I thought I’d make in 2017. “I Hate People”, “Sincero Amore” and “I Love Us, We Love Me” are grade-a pop-rockers, but with a really appealing edge – but then you get “Passed Away Today” which sounds like the soundtrack to some avant garde splatter movie. “I Am the Best For You” is probably the best meshing of the two musicians – Moore rants while Falkner underpins it like a badass.
I’m always sceptical about these kind of collaborations – I mean, how lame was “The Simpsons Meet Family Guy” special? I know, right? Rest assured, there’s enough DIY weirdness to keep Moore’s fans happy and enough pop hooks to keep Falkner’s aficionados from pulverising their Jellyfish CD’s with a lump hammer.
Is this album worthy enough to be ranked alongside some of Mr Moore’s previous work like “I’ll Say it’s My Fault”, “Herculean Rationale” or “Errorism”? You decide. But it definitely is.