Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Music Review: Les Moore - Yesterday
Yesterday by Les Moore is another of those obscure gems from the early seventies that surface now and then, seemingly out of the blue. In the case of Les Moore, he was a young singer-songwriter, who was opening for the likes of Cat Stevens, Jethro Tull, and The Allman Brothers. He met Capricorn Records engineer Terry Kane at this time, who got him signed to the label briefly. When it was obvious that nothing was going to come of the deal, the two moved to New Orleans, where Yesterday was recorded.
The album was released in 1973, on their own Natural Records imprint, and was sold primarily at local shows. A couple of years later, Les Moore moved to North Carolina, and that was seemingly the end of his brief shot at musical stardom. But the seven tracks he and Kane recorded would not go away. Unlike a million other self-released vanity projects, Yesterday is an unforgettably dark and personal series of songs, which are not easily forgotten.
For the most part, all seven are just Moore and his acoustic guitar. The album opens up with “From Where To Turn,” and the listener is immediately drawn in by Moore’s voice. For someone who had mostly just played coffee houses, his voice is remarkably self-assured. One of Moore’s biggest strengths is the absolute conviction he brings to lyrics full of self-doubt.
“Ooh-Pah-Do-Pah-Do” another beauty. How a man alone with his guitar can evoke such haunting emotion is beyond me. The only thing I can compare it to is Nick Drake’s Pink Moon, which would not come out for another year. “Now To Begin” is the lone “topical” tune, and is directed against the Vietnam war. But the truths it illuminates are universal, and speak of matters that go much further than just the troubles in Southeast Asia.
If the previous six cuts did not show his utter fearlessness, Moore’s cover of The Beatle’s “A Day In The Life” certainly does. In Acid Archives, Patrick Lundborg describes Moore’s take as: “A scary jump into the abyss.” He is entirely correct on that one. Moore may not have written it, but his voice and guitar are positively revelatory. It is as if this is a completely different song than the one The Beatles recorded. It is one of the best interpretations I have ever heard.
Thirty seven years later, Les Moore is a happily married man, with kids even. His newly written liner notes for the reissue barely acknowledge the darkness and depth of his lone LP. “I attribute [the darkness] to the times, and bleakness of the winter,” he states. Maybe so, but the music he laid down all those years ago remains incredibly powerful. It is our great fortune that the people at Riverman Records saw fit to re-release this gem. I recommend it to fans of Nick Drake‘s Pink Moon, Van Morrison’s Veedon Fleece, and Neil Young‘s On The Beach.