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Personal Injury is pleased to present R. Stevie Moore’s classic 2nd album Delicate Tension, originally released by Stevie’s uncle on HP Music in 1978. Delicate Tension is regarded as an absolute highlight of RSM’s massive discography and was featured as one of his six most “essential” albums in The WIRE’s recent cover article. Reissued for the first time on vinyl in an exact-repro sleeve and mastered from a digital transfer off the original analog reels. - His first LP made in New York. Along with Swing And A Miss, Delicate Tension shows Moore at the peak of his powers. Every track is a winner and there’s an abundance of his gorgeous songsmithery. Sporting a sonic clarity and balance, and with an emphasis on lean, slightly wonky instrumentation, the cool breeze of new wave is distinctly present. Exquisite. - Matthew Ingram, The WIRE (2012)
R. Stevie Moore’s first album upon moving to New Jersey and immersing himself in the burgeoning New York new wave scene, 1978’s Delicate Tension is quite a leap from 1976’s Phonography, both in style and execution. Where Phonography has a definite progressive rock feel, Delicate Tension is dominated by short, punchy power pop rockers like the breathless, witty opener “Cool Daddio,” the sly McCartney-like bounce of “Schoolgirl” and the sarcastic Ramones blur of “Apropos Joe.” Elsewhere, Moore’s instrumental arsenal (as before, he plays every instrument himself with the exception of about half a dozen drum parts and the flutes on the anguished “You Are Too Far From Me”) expands to include an adorably rinky-dink electric piano on “Funny Child” (which sounds as if the Residents had suddenly decided to write a late-era Monkees song) and more synthesizers, which underpin forward-looking early synth-pop experiments like the frantic voice-modified robo-bop “Horizontal Hideaway.” Delicate Tension is an album of surprising emotional depth. Best of all, the album’s sound is an enormous improvement over the extremely lo-fi Phonography; it stands next to Roy Wood’s Boulders, Todd Rundgren’s Something/Anything?, and McCartney as one of the best one-man-band albums of the ‘70s. - Stewart Mason, All Music Guide
I can only urge some latently adventurous Major Label to bestow a few of those hot dogs in the satin baseball jackets up off their A&R asses and out to Verona, New Jersey, for a reminder of what actual talent sounds like. I mean, here’s R. Stevie, bereft of the requisite beans to book himself some stretch-out time in a legit studio, and Fleetwood Mac’s been dicking around with their “long awaited” next album for what, two, three years? Is there no fucking justice? Until the Verona Visionary’s turned loose in a real studio, though, we can be truly satisfied with Delicate Tension, a broadly eclectic album unified by a seductive pop-rock logic, and distinguished by some of the most accurate and animated overdubbing you’re likely to hear coming from any quarter. Vocally, Moore--who played virtually all of the instruments here--most closely resembles Syd Barrett during his Madcap Laughs phase. For what few slumming mainstreamers may be reading this, suffice it to say that Toto will never sound the same after a few rounds with the redoubtable R. Stevie. - Kurt Loder, Trouser Press (1979)
Who is R. Stevie Moore and why is he destined to obscurity -- or, what great force in the universe will shape this raw genius into a commercially viable success? With the release of Delicate Tension (a most intriguing album), we become ever more aware of an incredible talent rising up from the pits of mediocrity. His vocal style is similar to that of Kevin Ayers. His technical prowess is as creative as Zappa or Rundgren. The self-produced quality of this album and his two previous releases, Stance and Phonography, amuses and enlightens us to R. Stevie Moore’s private world of sharp-witted cynicism. The music explores everything from improvisational jazz/pop to romantic folk ballads. It is essentially upbeat, a cross-weave of musical textures. If nothing else, R. Stevie Moore will be an important figure in the pop/rock annals of obscurity, but I would encourage all discerning ears to listen to Delicate Tension at least ten times. Can you take this maniacal intelligence? This is entertainment. Will someone take R. Stevie Moore from the obscurity of New Jersey and give him control of the world? - Quazimodo, CMJ (1979)