As they say, a change is as good as a holiday, and a change in musical direction is either going to make you, or break you, and in the case of one Gary Moore, it made him what he is, one of the greatest blues-rock axemen ever. A lot of people will pass off Gary Moore as a one hit wonder, a lot of people have probably never even heard of him, but once you hear one of his rock, or blues records, you will fall in love with his sheer amazing ability. Gary Moore started out by forming Skid Row in 1970, and then drifted in and out of monsterous Irish rockers, Thin Lizzy, lending his hand to Phil Lynott's band on many an occasion, whether it be finishing off an album, or playing in Lizzy's electric live shows. But Gary yearned for more, a successful solo career beckoned and when his first album stalled in 1973, he went back to playing in Lizzy, as well as Colosseum II and a few Greg Lake solo records before returning to his solo career in 1979, releasing a top ten single with Phil Lynott, then going on to release a series of powerful rock records throughout the 80's, all to marginal success....Then he things changed.
Gary returned to his first love, the Blues, and released this corker of a record, 'Still Got The Blues'. This really put Gary on the map of success, spawning 2 massive hits, 'Still Got The Blues' and 'Walking By Myself', still 2 remaining staples in his live sets today. This album also contains special guest contributions by Albert king, Albert Collins and George Harrison.
A dusty blues-rock riff introduces 'Moving on' to the listener, with it's punchy guitar riff, standard rock drums and squealing solo, Gary basically just sings about moving on from where he's currently at in his life. Nothing too special about this one, but it opens the album in a rock-solid fashion, and is the just the sort of blues-rock song you would hear at a dodgy pub at 11.30 on a Saturday night. The blues hits full swing with 'Oh, Pretty Woman' when Gary's powerful guitar opens the song up, with it's soaring blues solo and standard beat, he also does a good job with the vocals, giving it a really bluesy edge, whilst retaining his standard drawl. The guitar lead work really shines on here, with 3 solos, the first being to open the album, the next one in between the chorus and the verse, which is quite fast and rocky, with a bit of tapping, and one at the bridge, this one being quite bluesy, but it gets a boost towards the end with some fast finger movement off the frets. One of the more well-known songs is up next, in the form of 'Walking By Myself', it starts off with Gary's guitar and periodic drum rolls, with Gary singing 'You know I love you' between the pauses. When the songs gets into full swing, you can just bob your head to the infectious blues-rock groove gary provides, The solo here is also very traditional Gary Moore. This is personally my favourite song off the album. Probably Gary's most well known song 'Still Got The Blues' kicks in with his familar introductory guitar riff/solo. This is quite a slow affair, with Gary really pouring his heart into the vocals, whilst the guitar work is nothing short of amazing, and the piano and string section pack loads of sorrowful emotion into the song. One of the longer songs on the album, Gary keeps squeezing the emotion out of the guitar solo with his squealing bends and fret movement, really making the listener feel his pain through his fingers, quite a good break-up song and easily the best song on the album.
A hammond organ, with a slow guitar riff and steady drum beat opens up this next song, and when you think you're in for another emotional blues ballad, a fast 50's rock riff starts up and the drums roll quickly to throw 'Texas Strut' into action, with fast 50's style rock'n'roll guitar, and the hammond organ being used for that authentic blues sound, it is quite a standard blues rock song, but still very enjoyable, with more of Gary's trademark electric solo's thrown in.
A duelling pair of guitars and a horn section kick off 'Too Tired', which features Albert Collins. It's your standard blues song, but the horn section gives it that added effect when it pauses in between Gary singing about being too tired to do anything. 'King Of The Blues' kicks off with a guitar riff which resembles that of 'Soul Man' and utilizes the horn section, along with the hammond organ, under Gary's soaring mid-riff lead breaks. The standout on this song apart from Gary's fluid solos, is the horn section, and because it really blends nicely with the other instruments, it gives it that smooth, blues feel. The longest song on here, 'As The Years Go Passing By', kicks off with more of Gary's lead work, but it is more subdued this time around, more traditionally blues. This song is in a very similar style to 'Still Got The Blues', but with less shredding, it maintains a nice slow bluesy drum beat, and the hammond organ is again heard swirling amongst the slow guitar, whilst the piano and horn section again gets in on the act. For some strange reason this song is actually more sorrowful and Gary sings like he's really down in the dumps. This song is really good, and perfect if you've had a bad day, broke-up with your girlfriend or got the sack... goes well with alcohol too, preferrably gin or scotch.
Another subdued, bluesy guitar riff and a casual drumbeat gets 'Midnight Blues' going. Again, another depressing song, Gary's vocals are very bluesy and his guitar solos really wail their guts out, while the bass and string section drive the song, with the bass giving it that late-night blues feel and the strings adding shades to Gary's guitar. This song is also very good to drink alcohol too, especially if you're a miserable git. The mood lifts when 'That Kind Of Woman' starts up, with a riff that twangs away as Gary sings about the woman he is falling for. Another standard Gary Moore song, that's more rock than it is blues, it still provides enjoyment because it lightens the mood after a couple of really genuine slow blues tunes. This song also uses the horn section, with some back-up singers to add some much-needed spice to the song, as Gary shreddes another of his trademark solos over the top. 'All Your Love' is a lot different to the other songs on this album, as it starts with a powerful guitar riff over the top of a 60's pop style drumbeat. The hammond organ again is used to provide a nice tone over this specific beat and Gary's melodic vocals. It turns into a swinging jazz beat with Gary repeating "all your love, pretty baby" and the horn section giving it some spark. In my opinion, this is the weakest track on here becuase the guitar sounds really out-of-whack with the rest of the song. The album closer 'Stop Messin' Around' is another of Gary's standard blues-rock ditties which sounds kind of like the album opener, 'Movin' On', except this one has the horn section. Not a bad song, but not one of Gary's best either. the last 2 songs provide quite an unfortunately weak end to this very strong and moodily diverse album.
So there it is, Gary Moore's classic blues album, 'Still Got The Blues'. This album is brilliant for 2 reasons: Firstly, Gary Moore makes brilliant blues music, and his talented guitar work means he can translate his powerful rock solos and riffs and put them into a traditional blues format, creating some masterful and original blues-rock, and secondly, this album expresses some very diverse moods, from the triumphant highs, to the depressing lows, which makes for a perfect all-round blues-rock masterpiece, however your feeling, it can be optimistic or sorrowful. If you enjoy screeching rock guitar solos over the top of rythm and blues, this album is the one for you.