Thursday, September 02, 2004
What a weird career Anthony Moore has had. Alan Licht salivates over his early minimalist work (online excerpt over at the Forced Exposure website). Prog heads and Bongwater fanatics gather together to worship his work with Slapp Happy. Pink Floyd fans with dubious taste thrill to his co-writes with David Gilmour. Julian Lennon covered one of his songs. He's popped up here and there as a producer or musician. Last I checked, he was a professor in a music-related field.
His first three albums (one of which didn't get released until about twenty-six years after it was recorded) are minimalist and don't have much to do with his later directions (other than sharing a tendency to use non 4/4 meters). They actually are quite nice, and fans of that sort of thing probably won't be disappointed.
The first album in particular, Pieces From The Cloudland Ballroom, is really good and includes one track called Abcd Gol'fish that apparently invents Spacemen 3 (or at least Spectrum). [This is a 13Mb file.] Album number two, Secrets of The Blue Bag involves variations on a five note scale. As with parts of Cloudland Ballroom, it has a looser and more informal performance than most minimalism that I've heard (Glass, Reich, etc.) which does give it a more human touch. The album that didn't come out for a long time is called Reed, Whistle & Sticks and the question is, "Do you want to listen to a recording of sticks being dropped semi-endlessly, in stereo." You know, sometimes my answer to that is "yes." Here's a sample...extrapolate and decide for yourself.
After that there was that Slapp Happy thing. After Slapp Happy there were solo albums.
The tough thing about Anthony's solo albums (the rock ones, not the minimalist ones) is that they're maddeningly inconsistent. Sometimes there's great production on so-so songs. Other times there are great tunes but the tempo is kind of slow, or they need a better chorus or a bridge. There's a Bob Dylan influence that sometimes shows up to ill effect, and he had the same problem with 1980's production that everyone else did. Basically, when Anthony sounds like Kevin Ayers or Syd Barrett or Brian Eno with David Bowie, he can be pretty great. He changed his last name to "More" for some of his solo work, not that it helped him sell any more copies (ha ha ha).
His first solo album was called Out, but of course it didn't get released until nearly twenty years after its recording date of 1976. About half of it is good. You could say of that half that it has the same quality to potential-quality-as-demonstrated-by-past-work ratio as recent Robyn Hitchcock. The other half is good-to-great. It includes one song called Lover Of Mine that, in my opinion, ought to occupy a special spot in the Syd Barrett wing of the music museum. If you're a fan of Canterbury-related stuff, I'd say it's well worth buying Out. It also contains a really great cover of Catch A Falling Star (who would have thought).
The second solo album is the one that gets the best word on the street, and I'll go along with that. It's called Flying Doesn't Help and it has aspects of Pink Floyd, Eno and Bowie , Kevin Ayers, and so on. The production is often really inventive: there are some wonderful transitions between tracks and neat zigs and zags for the headphone contingent. Here's the first song, Judy Get Down. I've already posted two other tracks from the album during this Slapp Happy blow-out, so I'll leave it at that, even though some songs that I haven't posted are better than some that I have.
His third solo album World Service is less inspired, and the production starts to move in an icky 80's direction. With one exception: it includes a killer version of a Flying Doesn't Help song called Lucia (on World Service it's called Lucia Still Alive). I really wish he'd done more like this. BTW, I played this mp3 on my home stereo yesterday and it sounded kind of thin...might be wise to listen on headphones.
The fourth, and final, solo album is called The Only Choice and its 80's slick-quasi-world-music (think Peter Gabriel with less of a pop sense) production puts me off so much that I just shouldn't talk about it. If anyone wants to tackle it in the comments section, feel free.
So, in sum, Anthony is frustrating. I think you could put together a neat best-of if you took about half of Out and half of Flying Doesn't Help and the song Lucia Still Alive from World Service. And again, the minimalist albums are pretty good too.
Tomorrow: Kew, Rhone, I finally sort of get around to Peter Blegvad's solo career, and the final wrap up.