'Maurice' is remastered from the original 1/4" studio tapes and available as an official limited vinyl reissue for the first time exclusively on Backatcha Records. 7-track LP with artwork and insert. Original cover portrait by artist Clarence "Pencilman" Pointer.
Recorded in March, 1976 at Pegasus Studios in Maurice Moore’s hometown of Warren, Ohio, 'Maurice' personifies what Moore calls the ’Town Sound’. A family affair with no label constraints, absorbed in the local scene and written, produced and arranged by himself.
“It was something that I wanted to do. I took my time and we went over it in my first studio but I took it over to Pegasus because he had 8-tracks. I only had reel-to-reel 2-track at that time. So it was something that I wanted to hear on a bigger level. I could have used more instrumentation and everything but I wanted to keep it as raw as I could and I think I did. I kept it real raw, you know.”
Released in tiny quantities and distributed locally by hand in the summer of ’76, the result is an unfeigned lo-fi offering that highlights Moore’s artistry and a self- determination that is the blueprint of his musical legacy. He’d demonstrated this DIY ethic a few years previously with his debut Watch Tower 45 release on his Tower High imprint and he continued to control his music on homegrown labels throughout his career.
“I never wanted to be another Jimi Hendrix and I never wanted to be Sly Stone. The man who was always a wonder to me was Berry Gordy, he was my role model. I loved playing music but I also love the business of music and the business behind that business.”
A self-taught guitarist, Maurice is the oldest of nine children and the only boy. He nurtured his craft early-on and started the The Soul Dimensions band. By his mid-teens they had steady gigs playing across venues in Youngstown.
“The ones I really enjoyed was with Parliament-Funkadelic, Kool & The Gang, Leroy Hutson... Oh my, Barkays, Larry Graham, you know, so many right here in Ohio because this area was part of the Chitlin’ Circuit. Groups that were coming from Cleveland to Pittsburg and your next stop would be Youngstown. They wouldn’t take a gig here unless we opened up for them because they knew that they had guaranteed advance ticket sales and that was their money to keep travelling.”
“We stayed here and we held this down. I always worked because I carried the best musicians with me and we played it all. Eddie Hazel used to play off my guitar, Bernie Worrell... they’d all come up and we’d all be on the stage at one time. Aaaaawww... it was something else, it was fantastic. We were only like 15 or 16 years old when they were already in their late-20s but they loved us ‘cos we were little kids to ‘em."
Soon after he put out the album, Maurice left for New York. “The concept was to take it as far as I could but at that time Gregory Reeves the bass player for Crosby Stills & Nash came back home ‘cos he’s from here and asked me, ‘Moe let’s get together and start rehearsing and recording sometime’. He wanted to stay up on his chops so we would rehearse and then he said ‘come to New York and work on my album’. It was for Atlantic but they never released it because Greg and his manager fell out. I don’t know if it was about money or what but Greg never finished the project and I ended up finishing the whole project at Bell Sound Studio but they never released it”.
Whilst living in New York, Reeves introduced him to Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin who encouraged Maurice to go for self. “David said don’t give your masters away to no one, don’t sign no deals. Keep control of your music and start your own empire” Inspired, Maurice remained independent and aptly named one of his label’s M-pire a decade later. His entrepreneurialism and experience earned him the nickname ‘Motown'.
The following year in 1977 he was back in Ohio recording an uptempo take of ‘Everything That Shines Ain’t Gold’ at Johnny and Martha Krizancic’s home-built Marjon Studios (pictured) He continued his production and released a handful of singles throughout the 1980s under various monikers including O-Zone, Mojo and The Studio Band.
He taught guitar and started a DJ-service called Roller Disco before hosting a weekly radio show in Youngstown’s for over 10 years. “Club DJ’s moved the bands out so I did both. I was still playing and also DJing which became a full time job for me. I started in the clubs in ’84 and I went to the radio station in ’97”.
'Maurice' serves as another lasting expression of Moore’s musical legacy and style that will continue to remain as relevant now and in the future as it was when it was cut into the groove 40-plus years ago.