Review Summary: A fitting farewell from a legendary musician.
Is there any way for a man to carry on?
Gary Moore had an exhaustless desire that rendered him powerless to resist the temptation of returning to the studios every once in a while. Ever since the dawn of the 00’s and until the day he passed away, Moore’s restless spirit led him to launch an incredible number of fourteen albums, six of which were new studio recordings. Overall, Gary Moore recorded over thirty albums during a span that lasted thirty-eight years. More or less, we all know how Gary’s career unfolded. The Irish guitarist began his career in the early 70’s. He played Rock, Blues and Jazz fusion (with the second incarnation of Colosseum), before being recruited by his friend Phil Lynott and pay his dues by recording one studio album with Thin Lizzy. For Gary, that was the first and the last time in his career where he had to share his duties with another lead guitar player. He then left Thin Lizzy and went to the States in trying to pursue a solo career. He formed a short-lived band before recording his first solo album in the 80’s. For almost a decade, Gary Moore was a dedicated hard rocker, who recorded nothing but conventional, mainstream Heavy Metal. In the 90’s, Moore decided to return to his roots and there he stayed until his sudden departure from this futile world in 2011.
After changing his style in the early 90’s, Gary Moore remained a Blues devotee and with each album he further explored his bluesy side. However, Gary’s guitar playing style underwent some changes, gradually becoming slower and slower, more soulful and much more expressive. Those who have heard Gary know that the Irish was a guitar shredder. The albums he recorded in the 80’s showcased a musician obsessed with the musical trends of that era. And even if the Blues element was always there, the distinguishing feature of his guitar playing was hyperbolic speed and fluffy aggression. Then, the 90’s came and Gary returned to his roots with the now classic Still Got the Blues
. Albert King, one of the guest musicians, advised Gary to stop being a blaster. He told him that the blues is all about personal expression and if he wants to achieve a higher level of skillfulness, he must take his time with the notes, hold the bends a bit longer and try to limit the number of notes he plays. Gary understood that all the great bluesmen had developed this special ability that allowed them to confine the number of notes they played and still sound as effective as someone who could play ten times faster. Like Albert and Riley King, Peter Green, and, of course, Jimi Hendrix, Gary wanted to develop his own branch of “less is more” Blues-Rock. King’s tips helped him realize that shredding and tapping is not how the Blues are meant to be played. Eventually, Gary followed King’s advice and started playing at slower speeds. At the same time, he focused on practicing his soloing techniques to take his improvisations at a higher level.
Moore's last two albums mark the peak of his efforts to craft slow (by his own standards), affective Blues for lonely hearts and worn-out souls. Having said that, his previous endeavor, although nearly interchangeable with this one, was a slower paced, albeit less diversified record. This time around, Gary tries out a few new ideas in an effort to further explore a number of styles in power Blues and bulk up his already extensive catalogue. In addition, he pays a reverent homage to some classic tunes, with the highlights being Muddy Waters’ Walkin’ Thru the Park
and Al Kooper’s I’ll Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know
. The Irishman is assisted by the skillful backing vocals of Cassie Taylor in two tracks. Holding On
is a slow-tempo ballad which evinces a Soul-Blues feel and Preacher Man Blues
is a textbook example of how to combine three leading instruments in one Bluesy composition. On Mojo Boogie
, Gary boogies down the house and his playing, a la ZZ Top style, is so convincing, it’s like he invented the style. Longtime fans of Led Zeppelin will also find a few good reasons to check this record as some of its tracks, especially Umbrella Man
, finds the Irish Guitarist shredding like Jimi Page did in his youth. Did you Ever Feel Lonely
offers a smooth roller coaster of emotions and it’s another opportunity for Moore to display one of his characteristic solos and deliver another guitar lesson on precision and accuracy.
Gary tries to stay loyal to the classics, but the original cuts are all getting his characteristic treatment; a guitar, sharp as an axe that sounds like SRV on steroids, cutting deep to the bone with its rugged riffs and blazing hot licks. Gary's tone, feel, and technique have no rival. His rough-hewn vocals are the perfect sauce to the appetizer; they add extra flavor and emotional appeal. Drummer Sam Kelly, bassist Pete Reese and keyboardist Vic Martin are the backbone of the band and provide Gary with tight but quite simple backing grooves, something that can be the only drawback of the album. But let’s face it; this kind of music is not for those who seek to hear innovation and complexity, but a mere treat for a specific audience, the guitar lovers. These are the people who are in love with the instrument and their wish is to find an album filled with those spine-chilling moments of a guitar playing brilliance. Gary Moore’s music is all about that.
By the time Gary had finished Power of the Blues
, his playing had reached a crystalline perfection. His stellar guitar work is best showcased on the two longest songs of the record, I’ll Love you More Than you’ll Ever Know
and Trouble Ain’t Far Behind
, both stretched to a ten minutes a piece. An ode that signalizes the fiery passion of the romance and the heartache, these two songs are the crown jewel of this album. When it comes to slow-minor, melodic Blues, Gary is simply unbeatable. With his sophisticated style of soloing, fluid string bending and vibrato, Gary squeezes every last ounce of emotion from the listener. His vocals, trembling with fear and frustration, croon the Blues back to their most natural. If you’re feeling down or if you’re heartbroken, pour some dry scotch and listen to these two tracks. It blends perfectly. Or, if you want to invite your lady inside and you need a romantic atmosphere, just put these two songs to play and low the lights.
Unfortunately, Bad for you Baby
was the last album Gary Moore recorded before his sudden death in 2011. Sadly, along with him, a style of guitar playing died too. There is no interest in the Blues anymore and those few, who try to keep the spirit of this music alive, just seem to be insufficient.
Gary Moore may have died, but his spirit will live through his music. May he rest in peace.
RIP 4/4/1952 - 6/2/2011
I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know
Did You Ever Feel Lonely?
Trouble Ain't Far Behind