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Album Review : Gary Moore – How Blue Can You Get

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Review by Gary Spiller for MPM

Far too soon, simply far too soon. It is oft observed that you are born to the blues and it comes from within; a god-like gift. This is undeniably Gary Moore.

It’s over twenty years since I last saw Moore in concert, the extended note of his 1978 hit ‘Parisienne Walkways’ still ringing in my ears as I exited the then-named Colston Hall. That note is still as loud and clear nowadays; a trademark signal from a virtuoso.

It’s a sure thing that a sizeable vacuous hole was created by the sudden passing of blues-rock six string maestro Moore some ten years ago.

Proudly hailing from Northern Ireland Moore enjoyed a varied musical journey with the likes of Irish blues rockers Skid Row, legendary Thin Lizzy, progressive jazz fusionists Colosseum II as well as his own successful solo career that melded elements of each of the former. However it was with the blues that Moore sat most comfortably.

Marking the 10th anniversary of the untimely loss of Moore Provogue Records have delved into the guitarist’s family archives to compile a collection of eight previously unreleased recordings. Released on 30th April the appropriately entitled ‘How Blue Can You Get’ is comprised of four cover versions from the greats of Blues and four originals; all of which, in my humble opinion, will satiate the musical palate.

Album opener ‘I’m Tore Down’ is a lively, rocking six minute reworking of a track originally recorded in 1961 by Freddie King, considered one of the ‘Three Kings of Blues Guitar’ alongside Albert and B.B. Featuring elongated but not overblown guitar solos that weave expertly about the band alongside Moore this track does a mighty fine job of getting proceedings underway.

Following up most neatly is the instrumental track ‘Steppin’ Out’ originally released by Tennessee blues pianist and singer Memphis Slim. The keys and brass of the original are expertly replaced by a roaring six-string performance that totally tears along throughout. A glimpse into the US infused UK blues-rock explosion led by the likes of Clapton, Mayall, Green et al in the 60s. Atmospheric Hammond organ swirls around layered beneath Moore’s superbly crafted licks providing an ambient essence to further enhance the interpretation of this track.

Released as the album’s single the balladic blues centrepiece ‘In My Dreams’ slows matters down a notch. However, there is no decrease in quality for this; this is Moore at his superb best wringing the life out of every single note making his six-string literally sing the enticing song of the Sirens.

t moments it’s ‘Parisienne Walkways’, in other moments it’s ‘Still Got The Blues’ and throughout it’s sheer class. For myself it is the standout track on a standout album; one simply wonders how it’s taken until now to see the light of day.

Blues standard and album title track ‘How Blue Can You Get’ closes the first side of the album. Originally recorded in 1949 by Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers it was legendary bluesman B.B. King who took it the next level in his 1964 recording, with the track becoming a live staple in King’s performances for decades.

Moore’s sparkling solos punctuate a tender, symphetic rendition with the caustic humour of the lyrics being matched by Moore snarling the words “I gave you a brand new Ford, you said ‘I want a Cadillac’. I took you for a 100 dollar dinner, you said ‘Thanks for the snack’”. With Moore being heavily influenced by Peter Green this could so easily segue in to Fleetwood Mac’s 1968 version of ‘Need Your Love So Bad’.

The second side blasts off with ‘Looking At Your Picture’ that rolls along with an Americana sort of edge with Moore’s gravelly vocals reminiscent of Welsh rocker Dave Edmunds.

Lifted from 1982’s long player ‘Corridors of Power’ (Moore’s second solo full release) a completely reworked ‘Love Can Make A Fool Of You’ follows in stylish blues fashion. Originally a synth-laden AOR-driven track this version shines through much brighter with Moore’s trademark guitar-work to the very fore.

The song retains its balladic qualities but seems far better suited to the overtures of the blues adaptation given here; the six-string solo is emotionally laden and completely in touch with the tune itself. Again I’m left wondering as to why it’s taken until now for this version to be given a much deserved outing.

Rammed to the brim with completely smoking slide guitar the Elmore James standard ‘Done Somebody Wrong’ is the very next on Moore’s agenda. It’s completely clear as to why Elmore James was dubbed the “King of Slide Guitar”; with Moore setting fire to his fretboard with some furious sliding throughout this incendiary blues-rocker.

The album closes on a high note with original track ‘Living With The Blues’ soaring to atmospheric heights whilst ploughing an emotional furrow with heartfelt notes and licks aplenty. A wonderful track to wrap up the album and one that leaves you wanting more.

It’s tragic to think that Moore isn’t with us to be able to perform these tracks and the void he left hasn’t been completely filled even with the talent of the likes of Joe Bonamassa, King King and Kris Barras coming to the fore. However that note from ‘Parisienne Walkways’ still rings in my ears.

Stream/download and buy your copy here: https://smarturl.it/GaryMoore

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