R. Stevie Moore - CLACK! (1980)
CLACK! is considered by many R. Stevie Moore fans to be one of his best, and it’s easy to understand why. This album is a perfect example of why the genius continues to maintain and build a devoted, worldwide underground audience - brilliant compositions, humor, fine musicianship, and eclectic and authentic genre-hopping are all RSM trademarks beautifully presented in this song collection. It is also notable that CLACK! is the first full-length album the "Godfather of Modern Home Recording" created in a recording studio. Stevie confirmed this historical tidbit for us:
“Clack (and Glad Music) are often noted as my first 'exclusive' studio works. CLACK!, Glad, Teenage Spectacular, and Warning were the only full, RSM 'solo' albums done in studios. 8 track, 16 or 24."
Start with: “Part of the Problem” and “Conflict of Interest”
Why it’s worth revisiting: A brilliant collection of clever, accessible, and evocative RSM songs that draw inspiration from power pop, punk, synth pop, country, spoken word, and more.
In true RSM fashion, this classic album starts with an unorthodox inclusion. “More Moores Than Smiths” is essentially a lengthy list of people bearing the surname Moore, all lively recited by the recording studio’s receptionist, Karen Finn.
RSM makes his first appearance with his updated take on the Big Bopper rock ‘n roll classic “Chantilly Lace”. A touchtone phone intro, revamped chords and 1980s attitude all make this a delightful rendition, and a worthy highlight in the RSM canon. Amazingly, Stevie’s new wave masterpiece “Conflict Of Interest” follows immediately, signaling that this collection of songs is heavy on remarkable content.
RSM returns to his country roots (his recording debut was at age seven in 1959 with country and western mainstay Jim Reeves on the charting single, “But You Love Me Daddy”) with the melodramatically playful and clever “I Love You So Much It Hurts”.
“The Flavor Is Mine” sounds startlingly fresh and edgy for a song recorded nearly forty years ago, and is a surely a good example of the kind of inspiration RSM would later have on younger artists - perhaps most notably Ariel Pink. As its title suggests, “Aftertaste” is an instrumental revisiting of the previous track. Stevie goes funk with “Sit Down”, a track that would legitimately be at home on just about any classic Parliament-Funkadelic album. The laid back and drifting “Intelligence” offers the listener some breathing room before the brief, cheekily morose “Jump Out In Front Of A Car”.
“I Go Into Your Mind” is a must-listen with its ethereal backing and arpeggiated synths, accompanied by RSM’s tender vocal delivery that almost evokes the feeling of a lullaby. “Teen Routines” pleases with its deft guitar work, hooky vocal melody, and quick shifts into and out of contrasting sections. “You Always Want What You Don't Have” is astonishing from start to finish, showcasing a poignant side to R. Stevie Moore as well as fine musicianship. This gem – clocking in at just under six minutes - is certainly deserving of a particularly special place in the immense RSM catalog.
The quality lead vocals, harmonies, and strummed, George Harrison-like chord changes make “I Hope That You Remember” a worthy addition to the album, while “Same” takes an enjoyable detour to garage rock territory. The synth-based “Bloody Knuckles” is a standout track on the album, not only because it ably represents yet another genre on the collection, but also in its own rite. The catchy, punkish “U.R. True” immediately follows, which is subsequently leads to the instrumental “Theme From Hurricane David”. Fittingly, one of RSM’s most celebrated songs, “Part Of The Problem” concludes this remarkable collection of RSM music.
Irwin Chusid, renowned journalist, music historian, and radio personality played drums on “Conflict of Interest” and appears in the video. He shared the following about the process of "Conflict of Interest" with Weirdo Music Forever:
"It started (like most RSM songs of the time) as an improvised drum track. RSM wrote the song over it (which was his technique — following the drum patterns and making each new layer fit, with no end "work" in mind). It was complete when he wrote the lyrics and sang over the layered instrumental. I don't think there was a home version; IIRC, the Clack studio version was the original."
Happy listening, weirdos!