R. Stevie Moore

1984U/State of Affairs

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1984U indulges R. Stevie Moore's experimental jones, albeit in the context of the winningly poppy new wave tunes he was knocking out regularly around this time. On the one hand, there are instantly memorable winners like the opening "Hey Rachel," a deceptively complex pop song built on a bluesy chord progression and a wheezing, echoey harmonica riff, the falsetto power-pop rocker "Radios," and the brilliantly chipper "Everything," one of Moore's most popular songs from this era. In between these gems are more impenetrable but nonetheless intriguing efforts like the minimal mood piece "Vocal Focus," which layers nearly inaudible vocals and simple, jazzy guitar lines over a Krautrock-ish ping-ponging electronic rhythm, and "Battered Misters," which sets a surreal eight-minute monologue over a bouncy synth tune, like Laurie Anderson collaborating with early Depeche Mode. The best of these is the hypnotic "The Most Powerful Statement in History," a slowly unfolding blending of a repeating acoustic guitar figure, wordless keening vocals, and a dub-like rhythm track. Less successful are the somewhat overlong "Pretty Musica," which is marred by an uncharacteristically tuneless vocal, and the filler track "Steviestorys by John Savory," a cute but ultimately tiresome stream-of-consciousness rant by a precocious child. Despite the occasional half-baked experiment, 1984U is one of Moore's more interesting releases from this period of his career. The other half of the two-disc 1984U/State of Affairs set, on the other hand, is of minimal interest. In late 1983, Moore's friends Irwin Chusid and Joe Varone handed him a list of 21 song titles with the challenge that he write songs to match. In one session in May 1984, he did, armed only with an acoustic guitar and apparently making the songs up off the top of his head. The results sound like Van Morrison's legendary contract-breaking demo for Bang Records, minus the bile. Frankly, nearly all of the songs are entirely forgettable, the oddly wonderful exception being the ultraminimalist "Floppy Dicks," which consists entirely of Moore repeatedly playing a simple, bouncy guitar riff and saying "boi-innnng!!" Other than that one glorious oddity, State of Affairs is mildly amusing once, if you know the circumstances of the recording, but it's far from Moore's top-shelf material.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 4:08
2 4:50
3 6:14
4 4:59
5 2:58
6 4:27
7 2:32
8 2:26
9 2:16
10 8:21
11 1:50
12 2:58
13 1:59
14 1:06
15 2:00
16 2:21
17 3:19
18 3:16
19 0:49
20 1:51
21 3:25
22 1:40
23 3:40
24 2:10
25 1:23
26 6:35
27 5:08
28 2:45
29 3:02
30 2:28
31 7:03
32 5:47
33 2:32
34 4:11
35 1:51
36 2:58
37 2:48
38 1:10
39 2:41
40 3:55
41 2:33
42 2:44
43 1:58
44 8:14
blue highlight denotes track pick