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Old 01-14-2022, 05:24 AM   #12 (permalink)
Trollheart
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Still Got the Blues (1990)

Although I personally saw this as something of a disappointment after albums like Corridors of Power, Victims of the Future and Run for Cover, there's no denying that it represented a serious shift in Gary's musical direction and focus, as he went back to the tried and trusted blues standards he had grown up with, learned and practiced, and which to some extent characterised his first two albums. For this, his first “real” blues album, Gary invited some blues legends to play and write with him, and it's an album on which he writes the least amount of the tracks, only five out of a total of twelve; the rest are all covers. This may be why at first the album did not appeal to me.

The title could, I guess mean two things, the first obvious, as in a declaration of feeling down, miserable, well, blue. The other meaning though I think may be talking to fans of his from the early days, who may have been somewhat underwhelmed by what they might have seen as his later move towards more poppy/rock material and away from the music he grew up on. This, then, perhaps reassures them that Gary is very much still a bluesman, and has not by any means forgotten where he came from.

It opens with one of his own, a short fast rocker called “Moving On”, itself perhaps a declaration of his future intentions with regard to his musical influences. Even the guitar work on this is more blues than rock, and the album involves more brass than before, with trumpets and sax, as well as strings. This however is a stripped-down rocker, then “Oh Pretty Woman” is a storming version of A.C. Williams' classic (not the Roy Orbison song of the same name), with a boogie, creeping bass and some really nice upscale guitar from guest legend Albert King, trumpets adding a real Chicago blues feel to the song. Gary's old mate Brian Downey is back hitting the skins, and Don Airey is at the keys, while longtime bandmate Bob Daisley keeps the bassline tight.

Jimmy Rodgers' “Walking By Myself” is big, bold and brassy, with stop-start guitar and a great strut with some fine harmonica from Frank Mead, then it's one of Gary's own, a future classic as the title track moves into view. Six minutes plus of pure laidback, angst-ridden, gut-wrenching blues ballad, it really is "Parisienne Walkways" for the nineties, and it stands very firmly alongside the standards here, and should last the test of time, being required reading for new blues guitarists in years to come. Beautifully understated keyboards from Airey mesh gracefully with a stunning string section, given the whole thing a lush, grandiose feel. Some bluesy piano from Nicky Hopkins also flows through the song, and it really is one of Gary's best. It fades out on a two-minute electric guitar solo (electric in every sense of the word!) from Gary.

“Texas Strut”, another Moore original, starts off as a blues ballad but on a shouted “One, two, three, four!” from Gary it kicks into life and becomes a fast rocker, kind of similar in ways to Lizzy's “Leave This Town” off Renegade, just in places. Downey is in his element on the drumstool, and the whole band seem to be thoroughly enjoying themselves as Gary Moore gets back to what Gary Moore does best, the sense of exuberance and joy running through this album almost palpable. Johnny “Guitar” Watson's “Too Tired” is next given the Moore treatment, as another legend, Albert Collins lends a hand to the standard, then the trumpets are back to herald another Gary original, “King of the Blues”, with some stirring organ from Don Airey and great trumpeting from Raoul d'Olivera.

The other standout is also a blues ballad, though not one of his own. It's Deadric Malone's timeless “As the Years Go Passing By”, with some really mournful trumpet and sax and some truly inspiring piano work from Hopkins. It's actually the longest track on the album, almost eight minutes long. “Midnight Blues” creeps along on blues/rock feet through dark alleys, with a great bassline from Daisley leading the song, the last written by Gary on the album. George Harrison then puts in a guest appearance on a cover of his own song “That Kind of Woman”, with some jazzy trumpet and a fun uptempo beat, then Otis Rush's “All Your Love'” keeps things rocking before the album wraps up with one of Gary's idols, Peter Green, and his “Stop Messin' Around.”

Like I say, maybe it's because I had expected to hear original Gary Moore songs that I didn't really like this album, or that the likes of the ones that had come before it had ill-prepared me for an album of blues songs and covers. Even now, it's still not my favourite, even though I now have a slightly better appreciation of the blues. Nevertheless, it would mark a shift in how Gary played his music, right up to 1997's Dark Days in Paradise, and then two albums later in 2001 Gary would go right back to the blues, and never change that format until his death. Still Got the Blues was a glimpse into Gary Moore's future, and what he would do with forthcoming albums.

TRACK LISTING

1. Moving On
2. Oh Pretty Woman
3. Walking By Myself
4. Still Got the Blues
5. Texas Strut
6. Too Tired
7. King of the Blues
8. As the Years Go Passing By
9. Midnight Blues
10. That Kind of Woman
11. All Your Love
12. Stop Messin' Around

Rating: 7.8/10
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Last edited by Trollheart; 01-14-2022 at 05:29 AM.
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