R. Stevie Moore

Grease

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R. Stevie Moore's two-CD set Grease is juvenile in just about every sense: it was recorded by a group of smart and smart-alecky high-school students between 1966 and 1969, it features promising but derivative work by songwriters who would go on to much better things, and many of the jokes are basically just locker-room smuttiness. The small handful of actual songs show the most promise. In particular, the opening "Grease Theme" is hugely influenced by the early Mothers of Invention; it sounds like an outtake from Absolutely Free, both in the satiric lyrics (filled with random high-school in-jokes and pop culture references) and in the abrupt melodic and rhythmic shifts. Some of the instrumental jams occasionally coalesce into exciting psychedelic rock, but they more often peter off into aimless noodling. Most of the set, however, consists of spontaneous teenage bull sessions and arch scripted exchanges that are alternately dryly funny and pretentiously overblown. It even contains "The Trip (He Was Nervous)," an LSD-themed radio play written and performed by Moore and best pal Roger Ferguson for a ninth grade English class. Listening to Grease is like hearing an audio scrapbook of Moore's high-school years, and as such, it's best left to the absolutely devout fanatic.

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