It goes without saying that R. Stevie Moore is what you'd call a cult figure. And, it's probably fair to say, so is Jason Falkner. I can recall how ardently I'd search out any of the many releases bearing Falkner's name in the mid- to late Nineties. He's on the Eric Matthews solo albums in that era, was in Jellyfish, The Grays, and The Three O'Clock, and he released at least 2 superb records under his own name back in Clinton's second term. He was, at least then, also the sort of artist worthy of having a cult following, myself included.
That these 2 disparate artists have paired up is something of a head-scratcher but, as the very recently-released Make It Be makes clear, the team-up is hardly that odd as the 2 work decidedly well together. As soon as "I H8 Ppl" kicks off and Moore's Beefheart-ian growl gets going over the top of some crunchy Falkner power-chords, a listener is assured that this album is a genuine musical marriage more than it is a dalliance between 2 legends. At their best, like on the lovely "Another Day Slips Away", the material here concocted by Moore and Falkner finds a nice balance between the back-catalogues of both of these cats. Elsewhere, on the soaring "Horror Show", Moore falls in line behind Falkner for a cut every bit the equal of any solo Falkner composition from the late Nineties. "That's Fine, What Time?" is vaguely Zappa-esque, while the absolutely gorgeous "Play Myself Some Music" chimes with both a sense of Falkner's flair for Beatlesque tune-age and Moore's knack -- (that's an understatement, eh?) -- for lo-fi pop of the highest order. The track is, seriously, just sublime and probably worth the price of this album itself. "I Am The Best For You" moves things back to the abrasive even as Moore, in his own inimitable way, wraps his gruff vocals around an admittedly lovely melody. And to single out all of those cuts I've mentioned is to neglect to mention the handful of brief guitar-based instrumentals that lace this all up.
Make It Be is one of the big surprises of 2017 and the year's only a third up so far. Who'd have thought that these 2 gents could come up with something like this, something that squanders none of the appeal of either member's signature sound.
Out now on Bar/None Records, Make It Be by Jason Falkner an R. Stevie Moore is very nearly a masterpiece and the sort of thing that should warm the hearts of both fanbases of these 2 artists.
[Photo: Uncredited promo pic]