Way back in the ’70s, all those years before we had the Internet to tell us everything we needed to know about everything hadn’t yet encountered, I used to go to libraries and pore through books like The Rolling Stone Record Guide and Christgau’s Record Guide to identify bands or artists whose records I might want to acquire. Unless you had a very permissive record store around, you really had no way to sample music before you popped for the vinyl, took it home, and hoped for the best. With finite resources, good scouting was essential to maximizing the satisfaction associated with musical purchases. So I would read and read, and keep lists of records that sounded good in print, hoping that when I bought them, they would sound audibly good as well.
I distinctly remember reading about Anthony More in The Rolling Stone Record Guide, and thinking that his two (at the time) albums Out (1976) and Flying Doesn’t Help (1978) sounded exactly like the sorts of things I’d love. They gave Out three and a half stars, and Flying four. I looked for those records soon thereafter, but didn’t find them. Then I realized that Anthony More was a solo nom de vinyl of Anthony Moore, avant-guard composer and member of eclectic cabaret trio Slapp Happy, who recorded some wonderful records with Faust and Henry Cow in the ’70s. I bought all the Slapp Happy records I could find, and kept looking for Anthony Moore/More’s solo records, but didn’t find them. The other two members of Slapp Happy, Peter Blegvad and Dagmar Krause, both had extensive solo and band careers after they parted ways with Moore, and I acquired many, many records by them in a variety of configurations over the year, while still looking for their colleague Anthony’s solo records, but still not finding them. Moore later popped up as principal lyricist for Pink Floyd after Roger Waters left. Don’t hold it against him; in a vacuum, his lyrics would be considered great, but when compared to Waters, well, most mortals will fall shy of the mark. Still, no sight or sign of his solo albums.
The search for Out and Flying Doesn’t Help has gone on for the better part of 30 years, completely unfulfilled, until I logged onto eMusic for my monthly download spree last week, and was flabbergasted to see, in the new releases column, Flying Doesn’t Help, by Anthony More. Lo and behold, when I clicked on the artist’s name, Out was also available. A quick flip over to iTunes revealed that his next solo album, World Service (1981), was there for the downloading as well. Needless to say, I snapped the trio of albums up, burned them to disc, and have been listening to them incessantly since then.
I sometimes worry that I’m going to be disappointed when I find something that I’ve been searching for for a long time (and I can’t think of anything I’ve searched for musically longer than these albums), but in this case, I am tickled pink by how good these records are. Moore is a great composer and arranger, and he’s aided and abetted by an interesting assortment of sidemen, including Blegvad, a pre-Police Andy Summers, Alex Paterson (The Orb), cult guitarist Kevin Ayers, Manfred Mann and AC/DC drummer Chris Slade and composer David Bedford. His music evokes a cross between John Cale, Peter Gabriel and Peter Hammill, as they were at the time these records were recorded: challenging, abrasive, experimental and engaging.
Patience isn’t one of my strong suits, but in this case, I’m very, very pleased with the rewards it brought me. To learn more about Anthony Moore, click here, and then go score his records. They are wonderful. You can hear sounds samples of the records I mention in this post by clicking these links:
Out (Credited to Anthony Moore)
Flying Doesn’t Help (Credited to Anthony More, and the best of the three)
World Service (Credited to Anthony More)
Note that there is a contemporary DJ from Europe who also goes by the name of Anthony More. He’s not the same guy. Don’t get confused and make a tragic mistake.