Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1973-77)
- Victor Lovera (RIP 1998) -- vocals, guitar, backing vocals
- R. Stevie Moore -- vocals, guitar, bass, drums. percussion
- Bill Anderson -- keyboards, backing vocals
- Dennis Burnside -- keyboards
- Roger Ferguson and Ethos
- R. Stevie Moore
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Grade (cover/record): VG/VG+
Comments: cut top right corner
Catalog ID: 4936
Tax write off labels ... hard to imagine that there's a collectors market for such an obscure subgenre, but there is !!!
Released by the tax scam Guinness label, 1977's "Hotgun" stands as a pretty typical genre offering in that it's characterized by cheapy artwork and an absence of performance and production credits. Though his fingerprints were not to be found in the collection, the LP was apparently the work of the prolific singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist and lo-fi recording advocate R. Stevie Moore. Unlike many tax scam releases this one at least handwriting credits - most of the ten tracks were originals credited to someone by the name of "Victor". That was probably a reference to the late Victor Lovera who was a longtime Moore friend and musical partner. The two had even been in the mid-'70s band Ethos together. So what's this baby sound like? Well here's the interesting thing. Musically the collection sounded like three different acts sandwiched into an album. Apprently early-'70s Lovera demos, tracks like 'Joe Pepitone' and 'My Father's Son' sounded like James Taylor-styled singer-songwriter material. Nice enough, even if the lyrics were occasionally a little out there. There were three songs recorded by Lovera and Moore when they were in the band Ethos. Finally there were five mid-'70s pop-rock covers that were very close to the originals. The popular covers were a mixed bag. Their take on the Steppenwolf rocker 'Straight Shootin' Woman' was decent. Covers of John Lennon's 'Whatever Gets You Through the Night' and Paul McCartney's 'Silly Love Songs' were rote performances which add nothing to the originals. Elsewhere, nobody should cover a Starland Vocal Band song; certainly not something as dreadful as 'Afternoon Delight'. Lovera and Moore both handled lead vocals, though Lovera had the more commercial and versatile instrument, explaining why he was featured on most of the album. On a couple of tracks he even bore a mild resemblance to Emmitt Rhodes, early Eric Carmen, and Paul McCartney (whose insipid 'Silly Love Songs' stands as one of the cover tunes). Stylistically the album was all over the spectrum. Among the original tracks the opener 'Joe Pepitone' sported a disturbing, real person aura. 'Show Business' offered up a killer slice of fuzz propelled rock, while 'Nashville Bats' could have been a Thunderbird Newman outtake. Among the highlights, the gorgeous Lovera acoustic ballad 'My Father's Son' and the static new-wavish 'Love Graph'. The covers were a massive drawback, but too bad the rest of tax scam albums aren't nearly as impressive
And yes, I've always loved the weird Warhol-meets-Lichtenstein cover art.
"Hotgun" track listing:
1.) Joe Pepitone (Victor) - rating: **** stars
Lovera originally recorded the tune as a 1971 demo. For a second the gentle, pastoral 'Joe Pepitone' remind me of a James Taylor tune (his voice even sounded a but Taylor), but then the lyrics went off in an eccentric direction - squashing spiders, beating up a naked, drawing naked ladies, checking out his naked sister, ollecting baseball cards (hence the song title) ... Extra star for being so quirky.
2.) Show Business (Victor) - rating: **** stars
'Show Business' was one of three songs written and recorded by Lovera and Moore and their band Ethos. The track was recorded in 1973 at Nashville's Audio Media Recording Studios while the pair were living and working in Nashville. It started out and ended sounding like something penned for an off-Broadway show, but unexpectedly morphed into a blazing glam-styled rocker.
3.) Whatever Gets You Through the Night (John Lennon) - rating: ** stars
The first of five popular cover tunes, 'Whatever Gets You Through the Night' sounded remarkable like the original - well, if Lennon had sung with a slight lisp. That was apparently the intention since the track (along with the other covers), was seemingly intended for inclusion in a "budget" best of collection. Might was well just buy the Lennon original.
4.) Nashville Bats (Victor) - rating: **** stars
The second Ethos track, 'Nashville Bats' (originally entitled 'The Home of the Nashville Bats') again featured Lovera on lead vocals and with it's upbeat, bright melody could easily been released as a single. Very commercial; kind of like Eric Carmen and the Raspberries after someone had spike the water in their recording session. Love the enthusiastic drumming ...
5.) My Father's Son (Victor) - rating: **** stars
Another early-'70s Lovera demo, 'My Father's Son' was a sweet performance, without the oddball lyrics found on the opener. Shame it was so short.
The third Ethos track, 'Love Graph' featured Moore's ragged voice on lead vocals. Musically it sounded a bit like Sha Na Na having decided to screw their '50s image in favor of a mid-'70s punk-rock. Certainly energetic and a nice intro to Moore's lo-fi sound.
2.) Silly Love Songs (Paul McCartney) - rating: * star
Don't like the original so there's nothing nice I can say about the cover, other than it sounded remarkably like the original.
3.) Afternoon Delight (Bill Danoff) - rating: * star
Why anyone would decide covering a Starland Vocal Band song was a good move remains a mystery to me.
4.) Fallin' In Love (Furay) - rating: ** stars
Well, their cover of The Souther-Hillman-Furray Band's showed they were versatile and Moore's ragged lead guitar was a nice touch. But again, why wouldn't you just buy the original album?
5.) Straight Shootin' Woman (Jerry Edmonton) - rating: ** stars
Lifted from Steppenwolf's 1974 "Slow Flux" album, the cover was energetic, but like on the original, the horns were a major distraction.
Moore has a great website at: R. STEVIE MOORE OFFICIAL OFFICE (rsteviemoore.com) The site includes a tribute to Lovera Victor Lovera (1950-1998) (moorestevie.com)
If you're really interested in how bizarre some of these taxscam albums are, then be sure to check out the article Bart Bealmear wrote for the online Nightflight magazine: http://nightflight.com/author/bartbealmear/
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