R. Stevie Moore - What's the Point?!! (1984)
Experimental record label Cuneiform Records released R. Stevie Moore’s What’s the Point?!! in 1984. The LP was the label’s debut, and a compilation of largely previously-released (but worthwhile) material from CLACK! and Games and Groceries alongside new material. Similar to the predicament of accurately understanding the chronology and origins of Ariel Pink's catalog, the task of properly assigning R. Stevie Moore tracks to the "correct" album can be a daunting (if not impossible) one since there are repeat appearances, official compilations, fan collections, and so on. For our purposes here, we'll focus less on tracks we've covered on other RSM albums, and instead look at worthy tracks we haven't yet encountered.
Start with: “Love Has Doubt” and “Too Old (To Fall in Love)”
Why it’s worth revisiting: What’s the Point?!! documents classic late 70s/mid-80s RSM, and also gets less-familiar fans up-to-speed with the pioneer's earlier releases. Before albums like Verve (1985) and Glad Music (1986), but after classics like CLACK! (1980) and Delcicate Tension (1978), this album and Everything (1984) marked the end of a comparatively lengthy dormancy for the "Godfather of Modern Home Recording". The album's remarkable cover art was done by Vicki Wulff.
What’s the Point?!! starts with “Get The Job Done”. The track is a departure of sorts from previous live sounding albums like CLACK! and Delicate Tension with its percussion samples. “Love Has Doubt” is a zany delight, and features journalist, radio personality, and RSM associate Irwin Chusid on percussion*. Synth/keyboard instrumental “Theme From Hurricane David” is followed by one of the all-time RSM classics, “Part Of The Problem”, which first appeared on Games and Groceries.
“Compatibility Leaves” is a winner with its clever chord changes, layered guitar, handclaps, and deft bass work. “Going Down The Way” provides compelling grit, providing a stark contrast to the earlier, more polished release CLACK!. Instrumental “For Vini” floats pleasantly and effortlessly by while showcasing excellent bass skills, this time slightly reminiscent of Paul McCartney’s up-front, melodic approach.“Puttin' Up The Groceries” (which - along with "I Wanna Sleep"- appeared on 1978's Games and Groceries) is a worthy addition, falling somewhere between accessibility and oddball. “Conflict Of Interest” is another previously-released classic that - along with “Bloody Knuckles” (both are on CLACK!) - bookends the delightful instrumental “I Don't Think She Knows”. Quasi-instrumental “Where You Reside” is followed by “I Wanna Sleep”, which could well be seen as a precursor to the RSM Glad Music classic “I Like to Stay Home” because of lyrical content, but is of value in its own rite.
Stevie ventures with authority into near prog-rock territory with the instrumental “World's Fair” and concludes with what is arguably the album’s highlight inclusion, “Too Old (To Fall In Love)”.
*Irwin Chusid (sometimes credited as drumming on "Love Has Doubt") remembers: "I'm not drumming on LHD. It's a lifted drum track off a 'beats' LP made by a professional drummer to provide accompaniment for other instruments. I added syncopated percussion on a rubber drummer's practice pad, possibly hitting other things in the process."
Happy listening, weirdos!