Revisiting a vocal house classic.
Anthony "Romanthony" Moore was a New Jersey-born artist who had one of the most recognizable voices in house music. The closest thing garage house had to Prince, his run of records during the '90s is the stuff of legend. Between 1991 and 1996, he released "The Wanderer," "Falling From Grace," "In The Mix (A Tribute To Tony Humphries)," "Bring You Up" and his first album, Romanworld, which Gerd Janson called "one of the few coherent house albums ever made." There was also Let Me Show You Love, released in 1994 through London's Azuli Records.
After meeting Daft Punk at Winter Music Conference in 1996, Moore helped them write and record "One More Time." That tune, of course, was a massive hit upon the release of Daft Punk's 2001 LP, Discovery, which also closed with the incredible Romanthony collaboration "Too Long." By the late '00s, however, Moore couldn't find a label to release his music. When he died of complications from kidney disease in Austin, Texas, in 2013, many fans of his music were unaware he'd even moved there.
During his time, Moore did little to dispel the mystery. Distrustful of music journalists, he granted just a handful of interviews during his lifetime. These chats, which include a Slices feature from 2009 and a radio interview with Colleen "Cosmo" Murphy from 1995, are opaque in their own right. Moore mostly speaks in generalities about his mission to imbue house music with traditional musicality, a cause obvious to anyone familiar with his music.
Moore name-checked the Zanzibar/Kiss FM legend Tony Humphries throughout his career. One 1994 EP, In The Mix (A Tribute To Tony Humphries), was a direct homage to the veteran DJ, who also gets a special thanks on the label for Let Me Show You Love. Though Moore only met Humphries once, he sent him hand-decorated acetates [dubplates] for years. "I guess he figured out that was the way to get my attention," Humphries told me. "Very few labels would always send you an acetate back in the day. That's the strange relationship that we had. We had an understanding."
Getting to know Moore means spending time with his music. With his expressive voice, Moore's catalogue depicts epic personal struggle, singing about God and love, mixing sacred with profane like his hero Prince. But he's most vulnerable when he's singing about running to, or from, love. On "Let Me Show You Love," Moore owns up to past mistakes, attempting to make amends. "I would ask him if it was about him and he would just be non-committal," Kevin McKay, who remixed the track on his Glasgow Underground label in 2011, told RA after Moore's death. "He really liked that kind of mystery. I only later found out that he had a [ex-]wife and children."
The mark of timeless songwriting can be found in a song's ability to transcend genre. Moore once improvised a convincing version of "The Wanderer" on acoustic guitar. "Let Me Show You Love" has the same quality. Of the the four versions on the original EP, I've returned to "Gigolo Jazz" the most. An "unplugged" version of sorts, Moore's genius comes to the fore. It sounds like a Prince demo that would stand out even among The Purple One's lost tapes. When Moore ends the track with the titular plea, it makes us hope this troubled genius found what he was looking for.
"That's a song that works anywhere you play it," Humphries said. "It's a great hook. If you can't speak English you can remember that one. It's right in your face. Join in, or get off the dance floor."