A double-disc set recorded in 1974 and 1975 (originally released as a 90-minute cassette), Stevie Moore Often/Pica Elite is probably the earliest R. Stevie Moore set that can be recommended to the casual fan. By this point in his career, Moore had worked out many of his excesses: many, but not all: the bonus tracks on the CD-edition include the two-part "WXYZ-TV" show -- a fitfully hilarious but often tedious 33-minute comedy skit that prefigures the '80s cult TV hit SCTV -- and additional tracks; including spoken word pieces that would later appear on Moore's first proper album, 1976's Phonography, under the names "The Spot" and "The Lariat Wressed Posing Hour." As a result, alongside such oddities as the "Elvis" parody "Around the Corner"; the goofy novelty "Forecast" (a work-for-hire radio ad for a local Chevrolet dealership); and the mysterious "found tape" "Explanation of Listener"; these discs include early Moore classics like the dreamy, Beach Boys-influenced pop gems "Wayne Wayne (Go Away)" (think Friends); and "California Rhythm" (think Summer Days (And Summer Nights)); the utterly brilliant power pop rockers "Why Should I Love You" and "She Don't Know What To Do With Herself"; the crazed, Sparks-influenced "He's Nuts"; the spooky psychedelic ballad "Showing Shadows"; and the irresistibly strange but delightful "You Can't Write A Song" (the first in a long series of quirky but immediately catchy, falsetto-sung songs that would quickly become one of Moore's trademarks). Even the second-tier songs, like "Don't Let Me Cry On You"; the Raspberries-like riff-rocker "I Know Them All"; and the Paul McCartney and Wings homage "Johna's Theme," have a newfound conciseness and pop savvy; and even the utterly strange "The Bugs Felt Sick" has an appealingly Zappa-esque quality. Only the nine-plus-minute guitar boogie on "High Fidelity" keeps Stevie Moore Often/Pica Elite from being among the top rank of R. Stevie Moore's '70s releases.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason