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Old 12-04-2021, 05:12 PM   #11 (permalink)
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A Different Beat (1999)


I don't know, maybe the impending new millennium shook him up, or maybe he just went a little crazy, but there are few reasons to explain, or excuse, this serious blip in Gary Moore's career. Like a speedbump you suddenly and unexpectedly encounter while tearing along a flat, smooth road you've travelled many times before, A Different Beat was certainly that, different, but not in a good way. At least, not for those who prefer (like, I would think, the vast majority of us) to hear Gary play rock and blues. Hey, if I want to hear dance beats or hip-hop I know who to listen to, but I don't expect to run into it on a Gary Moore record!

That however is exactly what you get with this album. Gary unaccountably decided to start stretching out beyond his rock/blues base and experimenting with dance beats, calling in house/rave producers Jay Hurren and Alex Banks, together known as E-Z Rollers, to mix and produce the album. But these two can't be blamed for the content of the album, as Gary again wrote every track himself. And helped produce the album, and it still turned out as it did! Oh, shame on you, Gary!

It starts out encouragingly and innocently enough, as “Go On Home” opens with the familiar snarling guitar, some house-ish beats behind it, then someone pops up with a rap-like backing vocal (presumably one of the E-Zs?). Roger King and Phil Nicholls are both at the programming board, the former also playing keys, and as an opener this is not the cold-water shock I'd been led to believe this album would hit me with, though behind the hard-edged rock there is a suspiciously dancy beat. Nevertheless, Gary's guitar shines through as ever, commanding and in control, then “Lost in Your Love”, far from being the expected ballad (although this would be a little early in the album to slow things down, true), is another acceptably rock track, but with a funky dancebeat that removes it from the grinding rock we've come to expect from Gary. Sort of more leaning in the direction of pop, but not too bad a song for all that.

Gary tries his hand at keyboards on this album, also bass, and not surprisingly he's very competent on both, though as ever it's on the guitar that he shines, and there's plenty of that here. So far anyway. You would hope that a song titled “Worry No More” might calm any fears about the content of this album, but this seems to be the first time that the emphasis shifts from hard rock towards more dance music, though the guitar is hard and heavy; the drums definitely sound like they're being made electronically, whether they are or not I don't know, but they sound programmed. It's the chorus that saves this song, with its tough, rough, loud guitar chords churning out some great sounds, but when it drops back to the verses there's a definite sense of restraint, of the guitar being pushed to the background.

Still, I'm not traumatised yet. And his reworking of Hendrix's “Fire” is certainly encouraging. The dance rhythm is pushed right to the side as Gary stands front and centre, loud and proud as he racks out the classic, perhaps to the bemusement of the E-Z Rollers... Hendrix lives again? No, it's not that good, but it's damn close, a faithful retreading and a great tribute to one of the guitar gods. Unfortunately, that's about as good as it gets, and things take a decided turn for the worse with “Surrender”.

Slow, lazy, laidback is all very well, and the soul-type melody is quite nice, but the song is overlong at almost ten minutes, and based mostly around keyboards with a slow dance beat, ending up as being quite boring really. It probably wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't so long, but though I've heard and enjoyed Moore songs this long, and longer, before, this one just doesn't cut it for me. There's not enough variety, there's not enough direction, and there's not nearly enough guitar. Oh dear. “House Full of Blues”, despite the title, starts off at least like some sort of new romantic song, like maybe Fiction Factory or the Human League.

Guitar bites a little as it goes, but the song isn't rock enough for me, relies too much on the synth and the muted percussion. “Bring My Baby Back” goes back to stripped-down Memphis blues, with an almost bluegrass feel to it, some nice harmonica in there (made on synth? Perhaps) and some fiddle (ditto) providing a welcome return - if only temporary - to the sort of music we want to hear from this man. Is that a Jews harp I hear? VERY country. Sadly, “Can't Help Myself” goes right back to the left-of-field, with a clangy, almost The The drumbeat and a very restrained vocal from Gary, lots of keyboard and synth fiddling, very little actual guitar, and a dancy beat more suited to the likes of Prince than Gary Moore. Worryingly, the album closer is an extended version remix of this track. I don't like the original, and I'm certainly not looking forward to hearing a longer version!

“Fatboy” doesn't do a lot to help, with semi-rap and dance rhythm, although Gary does get some nice guitar licks in, but they're kind of subsumed by the synthery going on, and it really comes across as more of a sampled track than a proper song. Quite annoying, I have to say. “We Want Love” then is the closest we get to a ballad since “Surrender”, and it's equally unimpressive: dull, lifeless, monotonous, boring. At least it only runs for just short of six minutes this time. The scratching on the track just makes me hate it more.

And so we close with the dreaded “E-Z Rollers Mix” of what was in the first place a mediocre song. I'm torn between whether I would have wanted a new track to close, given the generally disappointing quality of the songs on this album, or just for the album to have stopped at “We Want Love” (or, indeed, “Bring My Baby Back”, which seems a very long time ago now!) At least the track opens with some decent guitar, but it's not long before the synths are at it and the drum machines are fired up, and the expected double-tracked/echo/sampled vocals start being fired off like the opening salvo of a barrage that I feel is sure to destroy any lingering hopes I had that this album might not be as bad as I had been led to believe.

Basically, it just goes on and on, as remixes often do. It certainly doesn't endear itself to me anymore the second time around. And then, at the eight minute mark, for no obvious reason, they throw in another recording of “Surrender”. I mean, why? What is the point? Just lunacy, which in some (unkind) ways describes this album.

I'm reluctant to put down any work by Gary Moore, but we have to be objective, and it's quite clear that this was a failed experiment, an idea he had that did not work out, as evidenced by his return to, and remaining with, the blues and rock of his youth for the remainder of his catalogue. Some things do not mix, and some things should never be put together. You'd never have bananas with burgers, would you? Well, maybe you would, but you'd probably be sick afterwards. Might seem a good idea at the time, but...

There's not an awful lot good I can say about this album. There are a few good tracks on it before the dancebeats kick in, and in the middle there somewhere “Bring my baby back” is welcome respite from what goes on for most of the album, but generally speaking I would have to unequivocally place this as the very worst Gary Moore album ever. Thankfully, he learned his lesson and it was never repeated.

TRACK LISTING

1. Go On Home
2. Lost in Your Love
3. Worry No More
4. Fire
5. Surrender
6. House Full of Blues
7. Bring My Baby Back
8. Can't Help Myself
9. Fatboy
10. We Want Love
11. Can't Help Myself (E-Z Rollers Remix)

Rating: (A very generous) 5.0 (only because I really don't want to rate anything lower than that, unless it is absolute trash)
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Old 01-14-2022, 05:24 AM   #12 (permalink)
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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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Old 01-21-2022, 09:46 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Parisian Walk by Gary is my favorite song of his.
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Old 02-02-2022, 12:01 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Like I said in the Genesis thread (what do you mean, you haven't been in it?) it's been a while so make mine a double!

Starting off with this oldie...



Back On the Streets (1978)


Some artists rush out their second album, eager either to capitalise on the success of their debut (though usually that's the label talking) or to put a failed first effort behind them and show they can do better. Gary's debut was well-received but didn't exactly burst the charts wide open, but he waited five more years before trying again, this time under his own name, where Grinding Stone had been released as “The Gary Moore Band”. Of course, in the interim he had been playing on and off with Thin Lizzy and Colosseum II, but nevertheless it seems he did the right thing, as this was the album that broke him commercially, spawning the massive hit single “Parisienne Walkways” and setting him on the road to stardom.

At heart, it's an odd little album, containing only eight tracks, three of which are instrumentals, plus two songs written by Phil Lynott, one of which appeared on a Thin Lizzy album, and of course the breakout hit. It also features Lynott on bass and Brian Downey on drums for much of the album, making it almost a Thin Lizzy record. It opens on the title track, great powerful combination of guitar and keyboards heralding a new direction for Gary, and you can hear his voice has improved in leaps and bounds from his debut, possibly due to his time with Colosseum II, with backing vocals from Lynott. It's a real rock song, sounding unaccountably a little like early Queen...

Lynott does much of the vocal work on the album, taking over for “Don't Believe a Word”, which had appeared on Lizzy's 1976 album Johnny the Fox, though in a much different format. Here, it's given a slower, bluesy feel, which is great but it is hard, knowing the popular version so well, not to compare it to the faster, rockier original. As it heads into the last minute though it speeds up and gets a big more boogie-like, taking on the characteristics of the original as it fades out. Odd, indeed. The next track is also voiced, and written by Lynott, and “Fanatical Fascists” opens with a burst of electric guitar that puts me in mind of “Jailbreak”, and in fact has something of the punk rock about it, with some nice heavy guitar and thumping drums, Lynott's signature bassline keeping the beat and injecting a lot of Lizzy into the song.

The first of the instrumentals on the album is up next, and “The Flight of the Snow Moose”, no doubt a tribute to Camel's classic album, is the longest of them, coming in at just over seven minutes. It opens on lovely classical guitar from I believe Lynott, and some gorgeous keyboard-created strings from Don Airey, with a very progressive rock air about the tune, then Lynott's bass comes slowly in, bringing with it some technical wizardry on the keys before Gary's electric guitar shoulders its way in, standing alongside the frankly totally prog keyboard runs from Airey, which really only serve to confuse me more about this album: is it a rock or a prog rock album? With all the input from Lynott, is it a Phil Lynott solo with Gary playing guitar? With three instrumentals, the closer on which we know he doesn't sing, and having only sung on one track so far (the opener and title), how much of Gary Moore is actually getting across on this album?

There's no doubting his skill on the guitar, as he displays here, but I just think he should perhaps have taken more of the vocal duties upon himself, stamped more of his own identity on this, as they say, his sophomore album. Okay, so he only got to sing twice on two Colosseum II albums, which is hardly prolific, but even so. Another instrumental follows, and maybe you could say Gary is letting his guitar do the talking. Well, it certainly speaks well, of that there's no doubt, but we know from later albums that Gary can sing: maybe he just needed the confidence to tackle a whole album himself, or maybe he was deferring to his more experienced friend in the hopes of making this album successful. Either way, “Hurricane” certainly demonstrates his love for, and talent on the guitar, more a jam than anything else really, with some pretty frantic organ by Airey, then we finally get to hear Gary sing again on the rather nice “Song for Donna”, even though at the beginning he does sound like he's way too far from the mike, and it's hard to make out what he's singing.

The song is a soul/blues ballad, with some really tasty guitar, and again Moore moves back from the mike (or doesn't sing up enough, or the production is bad), only being properly heard when the chorus kicks in. Pity. Makes it hard to assess his voice on this record, though from the title track I would say there were no complaints. Even so, buying a solo album I would expect to hear the guy sing on at least the non-instrumentals, but then I guess at this point Gary was a guitarist first and a singer second, and only later came really into his own on the latter.

One more instrumental, the fun “What Would You Rather Bee Or a Wasp?”, and then we're into the classic, and obviously standout, and indeed breakout song on the album, the legendary ballad that would go on to define his early career, and become a staple at all his gigs, the song those who weren't fans would even know him by. Written in collaboration with Phil Lynott, and with the Thin Lizzy man on vocals, it has gone down as a total classic, and those first bass notes that announce the opening of the song were always greeted by mad cheers from any audience. There's little I can say about the song, as everyone surely knows it by now, but it's a stylish, clever and fitting way to perhaps pull a rabbit out of the hat right at the end.

Back On the Streets is not a fantastic album by any means, but that all becomes rather meaningless once “Parisienne Walkways” hits your ears. Once that song made it onto the radio, into the charts, Gary Moore was a new star, and he was certainly going places. Often even performed onstage during his brief time with Lizzy, it's a well-loved and timeless classic that just helps lift this album out of the depths of sophomore hell and up to the giddy heights of success and fame and glory.

TRACK LISTING

1. Back On the Streets
2. Don't Believe a Word
3. Fanatical Fascists
4. The Flight of the Snow Moose
5. Hurricane
6. Song for Donna
7. What Would You Rather Bee Or a Wasp?
8. Parisienne Walkways

Rating: 6.2/10
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Old 02-02-2022, 12:18 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Victims of the Future (1984)

This, and Corridors of Power, were the first two Gary Moore albums I bought. Well, correction: the first two my brother bought, but which I half-inched and listened to. Although the previous album edges it for me in terms of just total song quality and quantity, I have a real soft spot for Victims of the Future, not least because of the classic “Empty Rooms”. But it's not by any means a perfect album, as we will see.

It opens on the title track, which fools you into thinking it's going to be a ballad, with its crying guitar intro and the slow synthesiser melody, Gary's vocal slow and mournful, with nice vocal harmonies until he strums one more chord on his guitar and the whole thing explodes into a heavy rock cruncher with political overtones, Gary punching out the vocal with his full power, guitars crashing like an indictment on our leaders. This is the only song on the album on which the entire band collaborate, though keyboard player Neil Carter does pen two more with Gary. It's a thundering opening to the album, which unfortunately takes a serious nosedive next with the frankly awful “Teenage Idol”.

It's almost like someone bet Gary he couldn't write the worst song of his career, and he took up the bet. The lyric is puerile, banal, cringeworthy, the idea in the song put forward that anyone can make it as a rock star if they want to - forget all the many hundreds or thousands who fall by the wayside, and the fact that a very small percentage of “wannabes” even make it out of the traps - I find to be intelligence-insulting to the max, and in fact the whole song annoys me so much that I'm going to pass it over, but not before giving you a sample of the kind of lyric in the song: ”He dumped his chick/ Sold his car/ Bought himself a hot guitar/ He joined a band/ And they cut some tracks/ He hit the road/ And he's never looked back.” Er, yeah. So if it was that easy, why aren't we all doing it? God, that song makes me so.....

Aaaaanyway, luckily enough normality is quickly restored, albeit via a cover version, the Yardbirds' “Shapes of Things”. However, Gary gives the song (which originally sounded quite plodding and boring in my opinion) a real rock makeover, hard thundering drums, screeching guitars and Gary's voice rising to near-manic scream right at the end. It's followed by the pure classic rock ballad, “Empty Rooms”. Mostly carried on soft synthesiser and acoustic guitar, the song is a sad, reflective look at a broken love affair, and features some of Gary's most delicate guitar work, as well as excellent and deep lyrics: ”See her face in every crowd/ Hear her voice but you're still proud/ So you turn away/ Tell yourself you'll be strong/ But your heart tells you/ This time you're wrong.”

Gary re-recorded this for 1985's Run for Cover, which I think was a mistake, as it sort of diluted the song, and it was only a year later: it's not like he waited ten years and then re-released it. But anyway, it's a great track and one of his best ever ballads. It's also one of the ones on which he collaborated with Neil Carter, proving that the pair were quite a songwriting team. It features a quite stunning instrumental midsection, including a soulful bass solo by Mo Foster which would have probably made Phil Lynott weep, then a fantastic soaraway guitar solo from Gary.

The quality stays high then for another standout. Referencing the shooting down of Korean Airlines flight 007 over the Sea of Japan in September of 1983, “Murder in the Skies” opens on an angry, heavy guitar solo, which goes on for over a minute before the song gets going properly. It's a rockin', poundin' axefest with some very effective keys from Carter and thunderous drumming from Ian Paice, Gary bewailing the loss of over two hundred souls on that fateful day. No doubt the song was banned in Russia, as Gary does not pull his punches in the lyric! ”The Russians have shot down a plane/ On its way to Korea/ Two hundred and sixty-five innocent victims have died!” This song is a continuation of the partnership with Neil Carter, and it's no coincidence I think that the two tracks are the standouts on the album. Great, raging guitar solo by Gary here, and a fadeaway, siren-like ending.

After that, “All I Want” comes as something of a disappointment. It's not as bad as “Teenage Idol” (nothing could be!) but it's a fairly standard rocker, and really passes by not quite as filler, but not too far from it. “Hold On to Love”, on the other hand, gets the top quality going again, with a yearning, powerful fast ballad, if you can imagine such a thing. With the definite elements of a love song it's nevertheless a fast song, more in AOR mode than heavy rock, bringing to mind the likes of Journey or Asia, with a great keyboard melody laid down by Carter, and a great hook that should have made it a hit single, but didn't. This song is in fact so good that it should have been the album closer, but there is one more track left.

“Law of the Jungle” is not bad, a down-and-dirty rock cruncher with Gary screeching the vocal, but I don't feel it's the proper closer the album needs. It opened well, dipped once or twice, but generally speaking maintained a high level of quality throughout, and I think it should have finished better than it does. That said, the closer is not a bad song at all, just somewhat rock-by-the-numbers, opening with an almost Peter Gabriel vibe circa “No Self Control”, then Gary tries to go all Metallica, slow and doomy chords with a sort of drawled, growled vocal while Carter does his best to keep his at least interesting keyboard melody at the forefront, but is mostly drowned out by Gary's heavy guitar and the bassline.

Despite its few defects though, I still consider Victims of the Future to be one of the better Gary Moore albums released. It has the classic hit single, the political commentary, the updated cover song, and unlike many of his later releases does not rely too heavily on Gary's love of the blues. It's very much a snapshot of the man at a particular time in his career, when he was beginning to achieve some chart success, which would be extended with Run for Cover, but then more or less dry up, and he would concentrate more on the blues and re-recording old standards.

TRACK LISTING

1. Victims of the Future
2. Teenage Idol
3. Shapes of Things
4. Empty Rooms
5. Murder in the Skies
6. All I want
7. Hold On to Love
8. The Law of the Jungle

Rating: 8.7/10
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Old 03-03-2022, 10:45 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Back to the Blues (2001)

After the failed (and rather scary!) foray into dance music that gave us A Different Beat, Gary returned to his first love for the appropriately-titled Back to the Blues. After this album he never moved far from blues territory, which really suited him. The experimentation of the previous album and even the more laidback, pop approach that characterised Dark Days in Paradise was finished with, and it was straight, no-nonsense, out-and-out blues all the way for the next seven years.

For this album Gary took all the writing upon himself, apart from the covers of standard blues tunes he includes here. But at times his own original songs could be almost mistaken for standards themselves. Modern classics? Perhaps. Gary certainly knew how to write a great blues song, and it's no exaggeration to predict that in future years aspiring guitarists may look back to some of the songs on this, and his later albums, for inspiration.

It starts off with “Enough of the Blues”, a heavy cruncher with plenty of smart guitar, and oddly enough there doesn't seem to be an actual bass player, though Gary is credited with “bass arrangement”, so whether he played the bass himself, or the bass player is either uncredited or else different bass players played on different tracks is unknown. This song kind of maybe reflects the way Gary had been feeling when he produced A Different Beat, as he sings ”I'd had enough of the blues/ But the blues ain't had enough of me!” Just as well, really: sometimes you're better sticking to what you're good at, and Gary was very, very good at playing the blues.

Horns feature aplenty on BB King's striding “You Upset Me Baby” - in fact, Gary drafted in three separate sax players for this album, and there's a very jazz/blues feel to this song, a real uptempo rocker, and the pace doesn't slacken for “Cold Black Night”, with some very cool bass leading the melody. The horns are in evidence again, adding a lot to the track, and Gary's guitar work as ever is frenetic and energetic, and he sounds a lot happier to be back doing what he is best at.

Slow melancholy blues then in “Stormy Monday”, with Vic Martin at the keys setting up a really powerful backdrop. Gary would link up again with him for 2007's penultimate album, Close As You Get. He does a great version of the old T-Bone Walker classic, and there's an absolutely searing guitar solo running through this one, almost as you might expect: this is the man, back to his best.

Clarence Carter's “Ain't Got You” is another short and boppy blues rocker, then “Picture of the Moon” brings the mood and the tempo right back down again, with echoes of “Still Got the Blues” in the melody, and a bit of “Parisienne Walkways” too. “Looking Back” then is another short fun rocker, with Martin's keyboards playing a central role, and giving Johnny “Guitar” Watson's old favourite new life, and it's followed by one of the very few Gary Moore instrumentals, “The Prophet”, carried again mainly on Martin's organ, counterpointed by Gary's expressive, emotional guitar playing. How that man could make a guitar speak and say exactly whatever he wanted, or needed it to, without a single word.

“How Many More Lies” is a big rockin' blues stormer, which would probably have got an approving nod from the likes of John Lee Hooker, BB King or Howlin' Wolf. It's the last uptempo track on the album, Gary's last chance on this to rock out, and he certainly does, giving it his all, while behind him Vic Martin's fingers fly over the organ keyboard like a man in the deep throes of religious fervour. The album then ends on a beautiful ballad, a nine-minute slowburning epic which goes by the title of “Drowning in Tears”, with some very prominent bass and some nice keys, and basically the same melody throughout. It's quite a low-key ending to what is mostly an uptempo, powerful album that shows Gary Moore back doing what he loves, and delighting the fans with his return to basics after what might be termed “the wilderness years”.

TRACK LISTING

1. Enough of the Blues
2. You Upset Me Baby
3. Cold Black Night
4. Stormy Monday
5. Ain't Got You
6. Picture of the Moon
7. Looking Back
8. The Prophet
9. How Many Lies
10. Drowning in Tears

Rating: 8.0/10
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Old 04-01-2022, 07:54 PM   #17 (permalink)
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After going back to the blues, it's time to head back to the past, to a time before Gary, as it were, though it really isn't, and the second album released by the band which would help make his name.

Electric Savage - Colosseum II - 1977 (MCA)


With Neil Murray and Mike Starrs fired by Bronze, Colosseum II moved labels to MCA, where they remained for this and their third and final album. With no vocalist recruited, it was decided to make the album mostly instrumental, with Gary taking the vocal on the only track that isn't, and new bassist John Mole replacing the departed Murray. Opener “Put it This Way” is another jazz rocker, uptempo and with some great guitar from Gary, more excellent keyboard work from Don Airey, then “All Skin and Bone” is more ethereal, with gongs and shimmering percussion from Jon Hiseman, synth effects from Airey before Gary's guitar comes in, knitting the whole thing together. The piece does seem to be mostly a vehicle for the bandleader's drumming, however.

The lovely ballad “Rivers” proves to be the only non-instrumental track, and as mentioned it's Gary's first chance to take the spotlight as singer, a task he handles with aplomb and obvious talent. Of course, he had already sung on his debut solo album Grinding Stone by now, so was no stranger to the mike, but this is the first time his voice is heard - at least as lead vocalist - within the Colosseum II unit. He polishes the song with his trademark evocative guitar, of course, then we're back to instrumentals with “The Scorch”. There are no nine or ten-minuters on this or the next album, and in fact none go over six minutes, this one just edging being the longest track by two seconds. Opening on proggy keyboards from Airey, it's joined by a thumping, heartbeat bassline from Mole, almost like a steam locomotive approaching from the distance. Lots of flying fingers from Airey, but it's about a minute and a half before Gary comes in, his power chords levelling the song.

Keyboard takes over again though, and as “All Skin and Bone” seemed written for Hiseman's drumming to shine, “The Scorch” seems geared towards showing what Don Airey can do on the keys. It's a decent melody, but doesn't feature enough of Gary's playing for my liking. This is soon addressed though when the next track, “Lament”, hits, as it's carried almost entirely on Gary's guitar. Surprisingly, with a title like that, it's not a slow ballad-type song, in fact there are church bells in the distance, lending the song an almost victorious or triumphant air.

“Desperado” then is pure jazz fusion, uptempo and boppy, plenty of guitar but driven mostly by organ from Airey and machinegun drumming from Hiseman. “Am I” slows everything down, in an almost Vangelis-like tune, lots of echoey and jingly keyboards, nice low bass, and some nice smooth guitar from Gary completes the melody. Closer “Intergalactic Strut” starts with again a big drum intro, then the keys fly in but this time it's not long before Gary is getting in on the act. Another fast improv jam really to end the album.

I don't know. I liked the first album, and really like Mike Starrs' voice, pity he's gone by the release of this album. An album full of instrumentals, few of them rock? Like I say, I don't know. But then again, these albums are only really being reviewed to fill in blanks, as stepping-stones shown along the path to Gary's career, and you can certainly hear him developing his style here. Good to hear him sing too, if only the once.

TRACK LISTING

1. Put it This Way
2. All Skin and Bone
3. Rivers
4. The Scorch
5. Lament
6. Desperado
7. Am I
8. Intergalactic Strut
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Old 04-12-2022, 01:18 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Run for Cover (1985)


Certainly one of Gary's most commercial and successful albums, Run for Cover occupies quite a high spot in my Gary Moore collection, although some of the tracks are a lot weaker than the others. It's notable of course for the hit single “Out in the Fields”, on which Phil Lynott sang with him, and the participation of other high-profile guest musicians, like Don Airey, Bob Daisley, Glenn Hughes and Paul Thompson.

It gets going with a real Floydesque keyboard run by Andy Richards, like a swarm of deadly bees getting closer and closer before Gary's familiar guitar chords snap in and he shouts ”Run!” as the song gets going. It's a great rocker, finding Gary as ever in fine voice, with great backup melody from the keys giving this opener and title track a very commercial feel, more in fact than any of his previous work. You could hear this on the radio and not be surprised. And yet it's still heavy as hell, showing that Gary knew the way to straddle the divide between commercial, radio-friendly tunes and uncompromising rock withtout falling over on either side. Great solo from him just makes this the perfect opener, and you're somewhat out of breath by the time it slams to a halt.

And there's no time to catch your breath either, as we plough right into “Reach for the Sky”, a heavier, harder rocker, with blues tones, much more down to Gary's usual style, but with a nice soft keyboard line and some almost soul moments, before the chorus explodes with the admittedly rather banal and a little cringeworthy ”Reach for the sky! / Come out with your hands up!” Good basswork and indeed backing vocals on this from Glenn Hughes, then we're into one of the standouts (already?), which actually appeared as the B-side of the single “Out in the Fields”, and is in some ways as good as the A-side. “Military Man” is a searing indictment of recruitment into the army, with vocals and bass taken by the late Phil Lynott, the song itself being one of his old Grand Slam tunes.

Played with, not surprisingly, a military drum and guitar rhythm, it's a powerful and insightful song, as Lynott sings ”Mamma take a look at your boy/ He's a military man/ Mamma take a look at your boy/ He's crying./ Mamma take a look at your boy/ He's a soldier/ Mamma take a look in his eyes/ They're colder.” The guitar from Moore, allied with Lynott's bass, goes on an all-out angry attack as the song progresses, then there's a lovely little blues intermission during which the military man in question contemplates his life and dreams of being out of the army, out of war. ”I am writing from this war/ Oh mamma, I don't know what I'm fightin' for...” It ramps back up again and ends strongly, with the inescapable conclusion that he never realises this dream. Great song, just great, and Lynott's vocals paired with Gary's squealing, protesting guitar just make it perfect.

I personally could have lived without the inclusion of another version of Gary's timeless ballad, but to be fair it's quite a different version of “Empty Rooms” we get here, and it does breathe new life into the song. Still, I already have Victims of the Future, and this takes up valuable room that could have allowed another, original track to fill. Glossing over that then, we move on to “Out of My System”, a mid-paced rocker on which Neil Carter joins Andy Richards on the keyboards, filling out the sound, then it's another standout, and another appearance by Phil Lynott on that hit single, the bombastic “Out in the Fields”, on which both Gary and Phil sing. Opening with a synthy intro it soon kicks into life and Gary's guitar goes into overdrive, as the two legends swap vocals throughout the song. Guesting on keyboards, Don Airey paints a dramatic backdrop, with growling keys and sweeping synth passages, panic and urgency in his fingers as they dart across the keyboard.

Truly one of Gary's most intense solos features in the track, and then Lynott intones the lyric darkly, a warning, a prophecy as he growls ”They are falling/ One by one/ No flag has ever stopped/ A bullet from a gun!” The song thunders to its conclusion then on shimmering keys and a powerful guitar ending. No wonder it was such a hit. “Nothing to Lose” then is a slower, punchy, rock cruncher with lots of guitar mayhem, Carter this time solo on the keyboards. It's probably one of the few weak tracks on the album, very simple and straightforward, but not a bad track. It's followed by a real classic though, another standout.

“Once in a Lifetime” should have been a huge hit single. It has the catchy melody, tons of hooks, it's possible to dance to even, and it just bounces around inside your head like a tennis ball. It's mostly carried, it has to be said, on the powerful, anthemic keyboard line laid down by Carter, here rejoined by Richards, but of course Gary's everpresent guitar solo is there to add its own marker to the song. This could be the closest I've heard Gary's music approach AOR territory, but I have no problems with that if he could write material of this quality, as he could.

With a guitar riff surely robbed from Rainbow's “All Night Long” when Ritchie wasn't looking, and a hook half-inched from Duane Eddie's “Summertime Blues”, “All Messed Up” is another good hard rocker, with Gary at his gravelly, bluesy best vocally, but I find it a little derivative (see above) and therefore a little hard to take that seriously as a proper Gary Moore song. No such problems with the closer, the surprisingly laidback and cool ballad “Listen to Your Heartbeat”. Where Gary's ballads often tend to be big, lazy blues numbers, this bucks the trend, being again almost AOR, certainly radio-friendly, understated and sung with quiet reflective passion. It finishes the album really nicely, and again would have made a great single.

TRACK LISTING

1. Run for Cover
2. Reach for the Sky
3. Military Man
4. Empty Rooms
5. Out of my system
6. Out in the Fields
7. Nothing to Lose
8. Once in a Lifetime
9. All Messed Up
10. Listen to Your Heartbeat

Rating: 9.5/10
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Old 04-27-2022, 01:54 PM   #19 (permalink)
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After Hours - 1992 (Charisma)


The second album on which Gary not only covers his heroes' material, but gets to play with some of them too. After the artistic if not commercial success of 1990's Still Got the Blues, with its superstar contributors, After Hours features a guest appearance from blues legend BB King as well as Albert Collins and keyboardist Tommy Eyre, and has, like many of his later albums, a mix of original and blues standards.

It opens with a blast from the Memphis horns as “Cold Day in Hell” gets us underway, a hard-edged blues rocker with nice organ touches from Tommy Eyre, solid bass from Bob Daisley and of course Gary's trademark screaming guitar sound. Good backing vocals from Carol Kenyon (the older among you will remember her from Heaven 17's hit “Temptation”) and Linda Taylor. Upping the tempo is a great cover of Hudson Whittaker's “Don't You Lie to Me (I Get Evil)”, with some fine piano from Eyre and the Memphis Horns again doin' their thing.

Slow blues merges with gospel them for “The Story of the Blues”, with great trumpet from Martin Drover, and a moody blues melody not a million miles removed from “Still Got the Blues”. Some soulful organ from Tommy Eyre helps to build the melancholic atmosphere, with of course a great solo from Gary, his guitar crying like a man who's been dumped by the woman he loves. It's the longest track, coming in at close to seven minutes, and a great turn by the Memphis Horns again paints a flash of colour into the overall blue. A great, powerful, epic guitar passage closes the track, then Gary gets his chance to jam with a real blues legend.

The one and only BB King guests with him on “Since I Met You Baby”, an uptempo, happy rocker, and it's great to hear BB is still in fine form, both on Lucille and singing. It's only a short song, but a real gem, and great to hear the two guitar giants enjoying themselves, playing off each other. A great organ line courtesy of Eyre keeps the track humming, then the Horns and some spacey organ introduce “Separate Ways”, as everything slows right down for a sweet ballad, some nice trumpet from Drover and those great backing vocals from the girls again, giving the song a quasi-soul feeling. “The Only Fool in Town” speeds everything back up for a real blues rocker, and things stay fast with an almost country feel for John Mayall's “Key to Love”, with great organ accompaniment from Tommy Eyre and powerful energetic drumming from Graham Walker. Another cover version is up next, this being a lovely laidback “Jumpin' at Shadows”, carried on Eyre's solid, moody synth, switching to organ as Gary picks at his guitar and sings lazily like a man sitting on the stoop watching his life going by.

Gary turns preacher then as he declares ”The blues is back/ And it's here to stay!” before rocking out on a monster blues track with the late Albert Collins, Milton Campbell's “The Blues is Alright”. The Memphis Horns come back in on this song, joyously lifting the track to the level of gospel celebration. Collins died the following year, so I guess Gary would have counted himself lucky to have secured the services of the guitar legend before he passed away. Great bass from Daisley on this track too.

A blues shuffle then on “The Hurt Inside”, with Carol Kenyon and Linda Taylor back with their fine backing vocals, and powerful organ from Eyre, before we close on “Nothing's the Same”, an atmospheric ballad in the style of “Empty Rooms”, with deep, heavy keyboard and restrained vocal from Gary, nice little touch on the oboe there from Richard Morgan. The obligatory crying guitar solo from Gary just sets the track off nicely, as Eyre's keyboards keep pace in the background. There's also a sense of his big hit “Parisienne Walkways” in the melody here. Nice ending to a very decent album.

TRACK LISTING

1. Cold Day in Hell
2. Don't You Lie to Me (I Get Evil)
3. Story of the Blues
4. Since I Met You Baby
5. Separate Ways
6. Key to Love
7. Only Fool in Town
8. Jumpin' at Shadows
9. The blues is alright
10. The Hurt Inside
11. Nothing's the Same

I wouldn't put After Hours as one of my favourite Gary Moore albums, but what it does show is his innate love of the blues, and his great talent for songwriting, as well as in how high regard he was held by his peers, being able to call on such luminaries as King and Collins for this album. As part of the immense, mesmerising tapestry of blues and rock that Gary Moore wove for us in his fifty years on this earth, it's a vital strand, and needs to be listened to.

Rating: 7.8/10
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