Jul 092007

Simply beautiful

The other day, I scored a significant haul of dusty old 45s at the local Value Village — the stuff of which will form the core of a couple of upcoming Thrifty Music editions. One single in particular, however, proved itself so noteworthy that I felt compelled to feature it separately.

The song in question is called “Moody”, by one Scuffy Shew, from 1973. I urge you to give it a listen. As you do, please think of all the tortured, self-important, pretentious artistes whose causes have been championed ’round these parts. I’m especially looking at all of you who endure every cheek-flapping fart Lou Reed ever committed to vinyl, or those of you who revel in every hollow, clanging note to be found on sides one and two of Television‘s first album. Fans of Be Bop Deluxe, Sparks, and Neu! — I charge you in particular with the duty of opening your ears to some real music for a change.

Scuffy Shew, “Moody”

What we’ve got here in Shew’s “Moody” is something different. Something simple, vital, beautiful, and ultimately, genuinely important, like a first kiss or the smell of the ocean on hard-earned vacation. I don’t know where to begin explaining why it’s as Great as I think it is; all I know is that if you can’t wrap your head around its simple charm, you need your ears — not to mention your brain — thoroughly irrigated.

Come on, guys, be real about this rock and roll thing for once, willya? Sheesh. I know E. Pluribus will understand what I’m getting at here.

I look forward to your responses,



  33 Responses to “Scuffy Shew: Simply Beautiful”

  1. Mr. Moderator

    Gilbert O’Sullivan wrote me offlist to express thanks to Scuffy Shew for gently prying the mantle of Wimpiest Rock Musician Ever from his tiny, delicate hands.

  2. BigSteve

    The melody’s not bad, and I like the sound of the electric guitar on it, but that vocal — oy! It’s like he’s got some kind of vocal disability. Precious name he’s got there.

  3. meanstom

    Did this record come in a thick rubber sleeve for teething tots?

  4. What I want to know, is why DID Scuffy Shew insist that a blind photographer take his glossies?! This track reminds me of AM 700 radio. The bad kind that any grandpa would drive off the road to. The only link I can find online is that of The Association doing his song One Sunday Morning. Can you get your quarter back, Fritz?


    I was starting to think you were beyond help with all your ELO, Prince, Top, “Walkin’ the Dog”, crappy no-hitter soul thrift turds. This one’s been on my list for ages. A friend of mine told me Shew was an Apple find, during the company’s “This man has talent” days. From what I was told, he almost made it, but the money and the budget went to James Taylor. Whatever. Metromedia picked him up because they heard McCartney was interested in producing the guy. Verry cool stuff.

    The voice never bothered me one whit. This guy’s got the passion, the songwriting chops, and arranging ideas out the wazoo. Please send me an MP3 of the track with an increased bitrate. It’ll do until I track the thing down. It’s going on 5 or 6 years now.

    And by the way, you’re a real jerk. I more or less do records for a summer job, and you do it because you’ve got nothing better to do. During the last months, you found the Manhattans LP, the Betty Everett single, and now this friggin’ thing.

    Do me a favor. Call me. There’s gotta be someway or another I can wiggle that thing out of your hands.

    I’m waiting,
    E. Pluribus

  6. Mr. Moderator

    So EPG, was this a full-price album upon its release or a bargain bin deal? And is it true Scuffy Shew was backed by Sons of Champlin on his follow-up single?

  7. One word: Ugh! He sounds like a cross between Mr. Van Driesen of Beavis and Butthead and oh I don’t know, Eddie Murphy doing Buckwheat or something. And yeah, the melody’s pretty, but it’s got about as much edge as Air Supply. Stuff like this is why punk happened a few years later. It reminds me of “Dream Weaver” and other awful songs of that sort.

    Townsman Hrundi, to each his own, but if you can honestly tell me you prefer this turd to Television, Sparks and Neu!, then I just have to shake my head in bewilderment

  8. Mr. Moderator

    I’m curious to know what The Great 48 thinks about this number. Among other subgenres, he’s usually got his finger on the pulse of wuss rock.

  9. Yo Hrundi,

    I’m waiting.

    E. Pluribus

  10. He was one of the apple candidates? Was Scruffy Shew another Van Dyke Parks waiting to happen? Enquiring minds want to know – how did it go so very wrong? I need to hear a different track.

  11. on a different tact.

  12. Mr. Moderator

    Hrrundi, when are you gonna feature some real Thrifty Music, like Mandrill?

  13. Hrundi,

    I just called up my buddy who’s also got two different copies of the record. From what I can gather, you’ve got the polystyrene press of the record. Polystyrene is a more brittle pressing compund than vinyl. The first pressings on Metromedia were vinyl and, get this, had an alternate “objectionable” bridge. It’s supposedly pretty offensive. Shew more or less loses control over his emotions and lets Moody really have it. And from what I’m told the flavor of the bridge is a lot like the one in “I Got a Feeling”, from the Let it Be LP. Once my buddy finds the alternate version in his collection, he’s gonna MP3 the alternate take and MP3 it to me. I’ll post it on RTH as soon as I get the thing.

    That said, I’m most probably more into the thing than you are. I’m sure I’ve got something you want other than records, for trade. How about pedals and effects boxes? When my brother Ed called it quits he gave me a lot of that old Electro-Harmonix stuff. I’d give up something like a Big Muff for that single. That’s more than fair.

    Get back to me, brother!
    E. Pluribus

  14. At last: the missing link between Cat Stevens and Joanna Newsome.

  15. Hrrundi,

    You have got to be kidding me.

  16. saturnismine

    tune’s not bad.

    but it’s scruffy’s image and look i’m really concerned about.

  17. hrrundivbakshi

    Hey, Plurbie — you know me, I’m more into this stuff for the tunage than the artefact, so, once I rip the A-side “Reason to Feel” (also an *amazing* number, and one that realy uses Shew’s voice to make the tune come alive), I’d be more than happy to trade for an old E-H pedal. Do you have a “Small Stone” phase shifter in that box? That’s been on my list for a while now.

    And, BTW, I’m glad at least *one* person in this assemblage of idiots knows great music when he hears it. The notion that a *Dylan* fan, fer crissake, would bust on Shew for the unique timbre of his voice, just makes me hang my head in shame.

    I’m also kind of surprised that folks like mwall hadn’t ever heard of this dude — he’s extensively name-checked by Chilton (I believe they were drinking buddies during Alex’s lost years in NYC; it seems to me I read AC saying something about “never being able to capture raw emotion like Scuffy did” or something) and others.

    That said, I had no idea this was a prticularly valuable slab of vinyl. I have to admit I get a perverse charge out of finding this shit for free. Anyhow, sure, I’ll send it your way. I won’t stoop to the tacky level of asking you what it’s worth (the InterWeb surprisingly doesn’t seem to know), but… should I insure it? Seems weird for a single, but you’re the expert.

    Talk to you later, and see if you can educate Mr. Mod on what good music really sounds like.


  18. Let me go through my brother’s stuff tonight. We’ll definitely work something out.

    And yes. Insure the thing for $200.00. It’s worth that much to me. I’ve been looking for it for a LONG TIME.

    I’ll call you tonight about the Electro Harmonix stuff.

    E. Pluribus

  19. hrrundivbakshi

    Whoah, whoah, WHOAH!

    Check *this* out!

    Uncredited performers on Wilson’s original “Smile” sessions included Paul McCartney on “Vege-tables,” Danny Hutton on “Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow,” Lou Rawls (!) on “Good Vibrations,” and Scuffy Shew on “Heroes and Villains.”

    How ’bout *that*, Townsman Berlyant?


  20. Mr. Moderator

    Shew’s got a new album on the way that’s being produced by the old drummer from Jellyfish, doesn’t he?

  21. Whoah, whoah, WHOAH!

    Check *this* out!

    Uncredited performers on Wilson’s original “Smile” sessions included Paul McCartney on “Vege-tables,” Danny Hutton on “Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow,” Lou Rawls (!) on “Good Vibrations,” and Scuffy Shew on “Heroes and Villains.”

    How ’bout *that*, Townsman Berlyant?


    Well whoop tee doo. Just because he sat alongside Paul McCartney as he munched carrots on “Vegetables” (and yeah I know he’s on “Heroes and Villains”, though I have no idea what he played) doesn’t mean that I have to like his voice. 🙂

    I mean, hell, the fact that Van Dyke wrote those lyrics doesn’t make wanna listen to any of his solo records (other than Song Cycle), either.

    In summation, it’s about the music, maaannn.

  22. That is a cool piece of info, though, in any case, so thanks hrundivikbashi!

  23. I’ve also heard Shew’s currently working as Prince’s keyboard tech.

  24. 2000 Man

    That’s raw emotion?

    I guess if you’re name’s Mr. McFeely that’s raw emotion. I liked the crackly bits the music got in the way of quite a bit, but then the music got in the way of my enjoyment of the crackles. I suppose I enjoyed it more than stepping in gum on a hot day, but not much.

  25. Fer Chrissakes, the guy’s name is “Scuffy Shew”!

    Based on the song Moody, his worth relative to Brian Wilson is approximately equal to the value of Plurbie’s beloved Herman’s Hermits to the Beatles.

  26. Just FYI, being the missing link between Cat Stevens and Joanna Newsome puts this guy in, well, flattering company: I don’t think I meant it entirely as a put-down.

  27. Hrundi,

    I went back and listened to the track again. I just can’t believe how incredibly beautiful it is.

    Talk to ya soon,
    E. Pluribus

  28. hrrundivbakshi

    That’s just it, Plurbs — “Moody” is a real grower; repeated listenings really reward you. I strongly urge the rest of you to go back and try again. So what if the tune is a simple one? So what if the guy’s voice is a little wispy? I’ll take “Moody” over, say 50% of the Harrison catalog, since we’re busy picking on the guy today.

    Mwall is right about this number — it doesn’t deserve to be written off so handily!


  29. That’s the key, Hrundi -repeated listenings. I remember the first time by buddy from San Diego played the track to me. I wasn’t hearing the magic. Before my buddy played it for the second time, he told me to zero in on the sincerity of the thing. And THAT’S when the goosebumps kicked in.

    NOBODY’S making records like that anymore.

    Talk to ya soon,
    E. Pluribus

  30. I’ve listened to this song going on 7-8 times today, has anyone covered this track? I just don’t dig his lispy vocals, or *his* particular 70s sound – it reminds me of Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl) by Looking Glass as well, maybe I would think it was genius if it was sung by someone else. I also just realized that I called him “Scruffy” in my original post –my apologies for that. I mean, I’d have to hear more than one track, but this one just didn’t do it for me. What on earth made you pick up this 45 Hrrundi – had you heard of him before, or you just thought it looked like a decent platter? EPlurb – how did you originally hear of Scuffy, and what made you get into him? Uh-oh, the interviewer in me is coming out.

    Lastly, I’d like to bond with the band of idiots if anyone of you are around. Let’s do lunch!

  31. saturnismine

    in europe (milan) for a conference, and it was a long day of tedious, poorly delivered papers. now i’m relaxing by the hotel pool…just wanted to log some thoughts on this song since some guy who looks like fritz just walked by in a thong.

    for me, “Moody” lives at the crossroads between Sesame St. songs designed to make sad little kids feel better, and sensitive 70s singer songwriter stuff.

    so it’s like “rainbow connection” or something (a song written for little kids by a sensitive 70s singer songwriter).

    hell, scuffy even sounds like a muppet.

    but using this song to slap people around for liking the velvets, neu, or television just doesn’t work.

  32. Hey meanstom,

    Just for the record, that thing you wrote about the teething ring was absolutely hilarious.

    Giving credit where credit is due,
    E. Pluribus

  33. saturnismine

    repeatd listenings, eh? i still say this is “rainbow connection” for the stoner set. but i am going to listen on headphones before retiring…

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