Like the previous year's Stevie Moore Often, 1974's Next/Apologies to Mr. Gottlieb marks the transition from R. Stevie Moore's early experimental phase into a much more accessible and pop-oriented framework. Shades of Todd Rundgren's more experimental work of the time (A Wizard, a True Star, for example) crop up here and there, as do suggestions of Paul McCartney ("Rookie Coma"), Roy Wood ("Ballad of Ethos"), and Sparks (the manic opener "Adult Tree"), but by this point, Moore has managed to coalesce his varied influences into the unique sound that he would continue to refine over the next few decades. Two songs, the shrieky, falsetto "I Not Listening" and the utterly beguiling ballad "Moons" (the delicate middle section of which prefigures a sound that Stereolab would turn into a career nearly two decades later), would appear on Moore's first proper album, Phonography, two years later. Of the others, an early version of the sophisticated, almost jazzy instrumental "World's Fair" and the charming acoustic ramble "Topic of Same" are big fan favorites. Moore has not entirely forsaken his progressive rock tendencies, however, as evinced by the surprisingly appealing album-length rock opera "Apologies to Mr. Gottlieb" that takes up a full half of this two-disc set. A playfully obscure fable about the music industry that unfolds over the course of 17 songs, instrumentals, tape-loop freak-outs, and spoken word interludes, the work is as a whole much less pretentious than the likes of Tales From Topographic Oceans. In fact, its daffy surrealism and charmingly DIY quality links it to lo-fi concept albums that would come a good quarter century later like the Music Tapes' First Imaginary Symphony for Nomad or Masters of the Hemisphere's I Am Not a Freemdoom. Next/Apologies to Mr. Gottlieb has a few faults ("Hot Bloose" proves that Moore has not given up his unfortunate affinity for overlong guitar noodling), but it's yet another pivotal step in his artistic development.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason