10 marzo 2019

Se già trent'anni fa aveva chiari i dubbi e le incertezze, tanto professionali quanto personali, circa il proprio futuro ('The future R. Stevie may well give up the fight', in Back in Time), nemmeno oggi, a sessantasette anni e con problemi di salute più che seri, R. Stevie Moore ha abbandonato la strada della libertà artistica e dell'autoproduzione, intrapresa con determinazione e tenacia fin dagli esordi. Afterlife, ennesima selezione tratta dal suo sterminato canzoniere storico - ma i brani sono stati fedelmente registrati ex novo in tempi recenti - ne riafferma tutto il valore: esce in due versioni in vinile e in cd per Bar-None Records, con l'aiuto di Irwin Chusid.

When R. Stevie Moore achieved underground notoriety in the 1970s, he was hailed as a do-it-yourself pioneer. DIY was a rogue subgenre of independent music in which artists assert maximum control over the creative process. Writing music and lyrics, playing all parts in overdubbed layers, engineering, mixing, Moore was a one-man music factory. Despite occasional collaborators and sidemen, he was too self-centric to be a team player. The outcome was (and remains) critical acclaim, but limited commercial splash. Not for lack of effort on the part of Mr. Moore.
His output slowed with age, but he continues recording because that's his raison d'etre. Afterlife consists of top-tier post-2000 recordings, eleven from 2010-2013. Some of the songs are four decades old; others were written relatively recently. The vintage songs were originally recorded at home in the 1970s and '80s, often on chronically malfunctioning open-reel decks with low-grade 1/4-inch tape. They were great tunes, transcending the lo-fi muck, and they begged to be revisited with state-of-the-art clarity. Afterlife is a survey of some of R. Stevie's best pop tunes, covering a lifetime of songwriting. A few were recorded solo, most include longtime friends and bandmates. From an audio standpoint, there might not be a better-recorded RSM collection, and every song is an idiosyncratic pop gem. For RSM, perhaps there's life after obscurity.