Still Got The Blues

Gary Moore

Charisma Records, 1990

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/27/2002

To me, the blues is mood music. As in, when I'm in the right mood, there's nothing better. And while being the former lead guitarist for Thin Lizzy is not quite the all-star credential you might expect from someone capable of crafting a classic set of electric blues, that's exactly what Gary Moore accomplished with this under-appreciated album.

Moore spent time in Thin Lizzy and (more tellingly) jazz-rock fusion outfit Colosseum II during the 70s, proving himself as a talented guitarist with a full, rich tone and an ear for melody. His technique, at its best, carried echoes of soulful players like Carlos Santana and Peter Green. However, his subsequent series of solo albums emphasized his hard rock chops in power-trio formats a la Robin Trower and Frank Marino. It wasn't until the late '80s when, inspired by Stevie Ray Vaughan, Green and others on the "hard blues" scene, Moore decided to quit fooling around with sledgehammer chords and screaming solos and see if he could make a blues statement of his own.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The result is an album that, despite its mix of originals and semi-obscure covers, comes off sounding like a stunningly cohesive set of blues standards. Not only does Still Got The Blues showcase Moore's playing, singing and songwriting to great effect, he brings several A-list guests along for the ride. Whether on tight, rollicking fast numbers like "Moving On" and "Walking By Myself" or delicious slow grinds like "As the Years Go Passing By," Moore shows he can keep pace with the best of the bluesmen. Which is exactly what he does on "Oh Pretty Woman," trading solos with guest Albert King, and "Too Tired," where he does the same with Albert Collins.

Moore makes no bones here about who is influences are; his original "King Of The Blues" is a reverent tribute to B.B. King, complete with a B.B-style solo full of sustain and nimble fretwork. And the rip-it-up boogie of "Texas Strut" is a blistering tip of the hat to hard-nosed Texas bluesmen like Vaughan and Z.Z. Top's Billy Gibbons. Moore takes it even a step further on "That Kind Of Woman," featuring George Harrison himself soloing and providing backing vocals on one of his sweetest blues numbers.

Half (six of 12) of these tracks feature tasty horn arrangements put together by Moore and keyboard player Don Airey, complementing Moore's ringing leads with funky blasts of sax and trumpet. "Midnight Blues" and the soaring, gorgeous title track also feature string arrangements that add further drama to the already heartfelt music.

It's worth noting that Airey, like Moore, was mostly known prior to this album for his work with hard-rock outfits like Rainbow, and that former Thin Lizzy drummer Brian Downey is on board for three tracks here. It seems each understood and admired the roots of the hard rock genre and jumped at the chance to mix things up a bit stylistically and play with more -- and more varied - emotion than they were normally asked to.

Having found a fresh and rewarding niche for his music, Moore cranked out several more albums of tasty "hard blues" during the 90s, including After Hours, Blues Alive and Back To The Blues. All are worthy demonstrations of Moore's sharp, evocative playing and superb feel for the blues, but none surpasses the power and passion of this terrific album.

Rating: A

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© 2002 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Charisma Records, and is used for informational purposes only.