Really lovely presentation, when you open up the set you are greeted with, a sticker set with Greeny, pics and a Signature, postcard of the album cover, a poster that’s different than the album cover and then a replica ticket, that’s really nice before you even get into the Cd’s themselves.
The Cd’s we have, a 5.1 Mix of Back to the Blues with additional interviews, Back to the Blues normal cd with additional live tracks, Power of the Blues, Scars and A Different Beat. All the CDs are in cardboard casing and they all have new Liner notes that are a lot more extensive than the original versions I already own, which is a really nice touch as I personally love reading them and also a bonus if you have the original releases, now let’s get stuck into these albums, starting with:
A Different Beat
First up we have the experimental album of the bunch, following on from Dark days in Paradise, there is a lot more experimentation with electronic sounds and I think this was Gary trying to fit in to something else, this album and the one before are probably the two that I don’t really listen that much too, compared to the others.
Track 1 – Go on Home
Stuttering riff to start this one, we then slide into a Primal Scream sort of groove, this really if you think about it, is like a delta blues track that has been modernized both in terms of sound and production, there are no real guitar moments in this song in terms of solos, just a bit of nice slide playing at the end, reminds me of some of the stuff Jeff Beck was doing in this era as well!
Track 2 – Lost in Your Love
This one works for me, more of a drum and bass sort of drum part with a nice bassline, the keys really add to this and when they kick in on the chorus it lifts the song, great vocal and the verse is littered with little guitar figures, short solo which is more like following the riff, then a breakdown into a 100% drum n bass part then back into the chorus, maybe some reggae vibes as well on this? The end is the first sign of a proper guitar solo, tasteful and following the vocal line for a good bit and then letting loose but always coming off as not shreddy!
Track 3 – Worry No More
Restrained guitar figure to start this one, before another almost hip hop beat kicks in, peppered with little guitar figures, this is the most metal track so far, when it kicks into the chorus you get proper distorted guitars, then breaks back down again into the verse with the cleaner guitar sound, the solo sounds like Stevie Ray over that hip hop beat, which is sort of cool and different, this song for me probably outstays its welcome and could have faded out on the chorus and not breaking down to the beat and fading it out on that for as long as it did
Track 4 – Fire
Hendrix meets Roni Size, it’s an interesting interpretation of this classic song, for me it’s different enough that I like it, Gary probably playing his red Strat and letting loose a little bit on this, I think it’s the only thing for me is he probably could have let loose on this one but he didn’t , he played a lot of the Hendrix parts but didn’t really do anything else, and we all know if you have watched the Strat Pack concert that he is more than capable of ripping up a Hendrix track!
Track 5 – Surrender
This is a very laid-back track that is a slow blues, I mean it works but I felt on this one it could do with a sound more like on After Hours with a horn section much like Cold Day in Hell had? After the chorus it has a part that sort of sounds like a James Brown section, we get a really lovely solo before we hit verse 2, really nice how everything backs off for the solo, giving it space to breath and develop, this is what the guitar fans are waiting on, a good 4-5 mins of a solo, and just shows what Gary is capable of, fantastic, best track on the album for me.
Track 6 – House Full of Blues
Full on electronica on this, it actually reminds me of a track from Joe Satriani’s Engines of Creation album at the start, its full-on drum and bass drums with synth over the top, it still drives along with its staccato rhythm and Garys aggressive vocal leading into the chorus before breaking down again into the verse, it’s another song where you don’t really get a solo, more just little stabs of notes, and I remember when I first heard the album thinking the same thing.
Track 7 – Bring my Baby Back
Now bear with me, the start of this song, I can 100% hear Rory Gallagher doing a song like this, just how he done Out on the Western Plain, it has that Americana/Folky sort of vibe to it? You then get a straight beat that you would here a drummer do before the electronic elements come in, now there is a bass line that sounds like a digeridoo, but the whip crack sound just ruins this for me, it’s also another track that could have ended or faded about a minute before it actually ended!
Track 8 – Can’t Help Myself
Spoken vocal over another drum and bass groove, with a feeding back guitar bouncing over the speakers, there is very little in the way of instrumentation till about 2 mins in, then you have a bit of a blues solo, again like a lot of the album its very restrained, the bass line is almost so loud in the mis that it takes away from it, yet again it’s another track that nothing happens in the last minute and it really should have faded out earlier
Track 9 – Fatboy
Dj play my song, it sounds like a remix at the start, now I really liked the groove of this track but constantly cutting it up with “Let’s Hear it for the Fat boy” gets thin, the riff itself is cool, but for me this is pure filler, and it does nothing for me at all.
Track 10 – We Want Love
Again, really laid-back groove complete with a constant Dj scratch that gets really annoying really quick, there is some nice chord work with a lovely vocal before verse two, the singing is great, and Gary sounds really good vocally on this but that scratch at the end of every line is just annoying, I like the guitar figure during the chorus, we get a really nice solo, a lot more bluesy in direction showing what Gary does best, but like a lot of the solos bar one song, it’s really short.
Track 11 – Can’t Help Myself (E-Z Rollers Remix)
Remix of Track 8, now my last words on that track where “yet again it’s another track that nothing happens in the last minute, and it really should have faded out earlier”, well instead of a 6-minute track this is a 12-minute remix, it just does nothing for me at all!
This one for me is the weakest album in the set, it’s a 4/10, there are some great bits in it but overall, it’s just not an album I go back to in fact this is the first time in years I have listened to it again!
Back to The Blues
I have to admit when this one came out, I was so happy after the two albums before which are not my favorites, that Gary had gone back to the blues, which for me is where Gary really shines, and as I say that I am also a huge fan of all the 80s rock albums, but, this was so welcome after the experimentation of the last two albums that he put out!
Track 1 – Enough of the Blues
Your right back in the Delta with the opening song, resonator guitar part and low almost spoken vocal part, before it really kicks in with a bang, it’s a really bouncy sliding riff, bass line just hammering away in the background, the vocal guitar call out part is really cool, short solo on this one but it’s a more modern guitar tone for it, then backs down into another verse, before it backs way off to the opening guitar part before kicking in again and we get another solo that takes us to the fade out
Track 2 – You Upset Me Baby
The horns are here for this one, now for those that don’t know, this is a cover of a BB King song, and you can tell, it’s just got that feel about it, and to Garys credit, he plays the verse just like BB, guitar part after the vocal just the way BB would do it, the solo as well is still fiery as Gary does, but, it’s certainly more restrained and very much in the fashion of the song itself, that horn line though, just makes the track!
Track 3 – Cold Black Night
Now I almost can hear like a drum and bass drum groove in this, it’s a twelve-bar blues but in a lot more modern style, maybe it’s just a hangover from the last album I just hear that groove, super punchy solo on that, really bright guitar sound, then another verse, another solo, I mean I’m not complaining at more than one solo in a song, that’s for sure, nice section where Darren Mooney gets to flex out a bit as well!
Track 4 – Stormy Monday
T Bone Walker cover is up next on this one, this is just dripping with soul from the first notes of guitar you hear, slow blues and really nice B3 organ on this one just hanging about in the background, I might add, go listen to the original as well, great track! Great playing is a given really when you’re talking about Gary, but this one is super aggressive in parts despite the guitar tone not being overly saturated, it’s a pretty faithful cover but it just has Garys touch all over it!
Track 5 – Ain’t Got You
This one from the off comes out swinging with an almost Hendrix style riff to it, love the almost harmonica style part after he say Aint Got You, as much as I mention the playing, Garys vocals are so distinctive and a real strong suit when he does the blues albums, nice breaks where there are little leads put in before we hit the solo proper, same after the solo, some nice fills in there, into another solo and out to verse, chorus and then the jam band ending!
Track 6 – Picture of the Moon
Much in the style of Parisienne Walkways or indeed Still got the Blues, I can understand why this was used as a single from the album after the success of the other two songs, and it really does follow the same idea and indeed even the same style chord progression, it feels very “home” for a Gary ballad, its only downfall for me, the solo is nice and melodic but it really lacks the fire of those other two tracks that I mentioned and I really wanted to hear that on this one!”
Track 7 – Looking Back
Johnny Guitar Watson cover on this, a few guys have covered this, but for me, this cover is the most rock, another good example is Kenny Wayne Shepherds cover from the Goin Home album, it’s a pretty faithful cover on this one, grittier than the original or the other cover and it’s got the Gary Moore stamp all over it!
Track 8 – The Prophet
Lovely descending church organ part to start this, reminds me of The Messiah Will Come again from 89’s After the War album which was a Roy Buchanan cover. I absolutely love Gary’s instrumentals, this one just gives me goosebumps, there is so much feel and emotion in all the notes, the vibrato, the way he holds them, the way he builds the song up from soft to climactic, it’s so elegant, you never lose melody either, its over six mins long and like a flash you’re at the end, with some Jeff Beck style volume swells over the end, beautiful track!
Track 9 – How Many Lies
Up-tempo blues rock on this one, swinging groove on this, really sharp snappy snare sound on this, great 70s sounding guitars on this and I love the way the keys stab and follow some of the guitar lines, just listen to the way they bubble away underneath the solo, the second solo is pure Hendrix with the unison bends before it spices up a bit into a really tasty building solo, before we are back into another verse, the vocal keeps going in intensity as well, it’s almost like they left the tape running as we get a few mins of an outro solo as the track begins to fade out!
Track 10 – Drowning in Tears
Slow drum tom groove announces this one, which is dripping in keys from Vic Martin, almost an 80s style vibe to it, different to the rest of the album, really nice bass line by Pete Rees, really restrained guitar figure in between the verse, I can’t put my finger on who this track reminds me of at all, maybe like Sting or something. Even in the solo the track always stays back and subtle, just underpinned by that drum and bass groove with the keyboards adding a blanket over the top if it all, it’s a really lovely track!
We get three bonus tracks on this release, a shortened version of Track 6 – Picture of the Moon that was released as the single for the album and then two live versions of Track 3 – Cold Black Night and Track 4 – Stormy Monday, this footage has been on YouTube for a while but now we have some of the tracks onto a version of the album, definitely worth a listen and a nice addition to the album, if you havent seen the live footage then go check it out as well!
9/10 – I love this album when it came out and I still love it now after another listen to review it, great original tracks and some really excellent covers as well on this!
So, we came back with an album that was probably the closest to Garys 80s style direction than anything that followed after, but had its feet in real power trio territory as well, like Cream, Taste etc.
I personally sometimes feel this is the flip flop period, two experimental albums, a blues album, rock album, blues album, it’s hard to pin down where Gary was or what he wanted to be at this point which is a weird thing considering how massive Still Got the Blues and After Hours had been, after 95 to this album it was hard to know what your where going to get from one album to the next.
The band at this point consisted of Darren Mooney of Primal Scream on drums and Cass Lewis of Skunk Anansie on bass with Gary on Guitar/Vocals.
Track 1 – When the Sun Goes Down
Starting off with a Wah intro, this one definitely has a Cream influence, I hear it straight away, like a Sunshine of Your Love vibe, unlike the lasty album the first thing you notice is how organic the instruments sound, like they were sitting in a room and just pressed play, Gary snarling his way through the verse with that distinctive gravelly voice, really big chorus on this, definitely a more modern style, into a Hendrix chord middle section, I mean that solo, it’s what he did, great feel, lovely blues phrasing, not as much gain on that amp as you would think, just screaming, then back into that chorus again!
Track 2 – Rectify
An almost bluesy Sabbath style riff and groove, especially with the verse, I can hear Ozzy singing it, but listen to the dynamics of the band, really quiet and then slamming into that chorus, love the addition dissonant guitar part at the end of the riff in verse two to change it from the first one, great middle section, a lot of that Hendrix chord as it’s there again, that riff though, then into a mid-section that has a lovely riff to start it, then Gary is let loose again, Zakk Wylde I mean listen to that and tell me Zakk didn’t listen to Gary….., then it breaks right down to just Gary and the riff before the band sneaks in again, right back into that chorus, just out of interest doesn’t that sound like Audioslave that at the end?
Track 3 – Wasn’t Born in Chicago
The drum and bass gods have appeared again on this one, although it does sound like its Darren playing that and not a program, wasn’t expecting that chorus but for some reason it actually reminds me of Living Color in a way, second verse goes back to the groove but peppered with some guitar fills this time as well, listen to the chords in that chorus, they are actually really dissonant, I love the little key stabs and then a really restrained solo from Gary, which sounds like he’s playing a Strat rather than a Les Paul to my ears, listen to that last chorus and there is a whammy guitar in there that just adds to the chaos of the part, it’s in there buried under the main guitar part, then back into the drum and bass to round out the track.
Track 4 – Stand Up
Almost Stevie Ray or Kenny Wayne style intro, before a really moving bass line from Cass kicks in just thundering this one along, with little guitar fills coming, great chorus, Stand Up for your freedom, before a really heavy section comes in and then bang, stops and into that bass line again, that’s definitely the heaviest guitar sound Gary has used, the bass line changes for the middle section, great bass tone as well, no actual solo on this one, it just rides out on the riff till the end, a really heavy track!
Track 5 – Just Can’t Let You Go
Slow blues time and it’s so restrained and beautiful, delicate vocal from Gary on this and it sounds like he is just there, dry vocal no effects just right there in the middle of your headphones, I love the little fade in guitar figures around the vocal, not licks but just notes fading in and out, and then it all changes, heavier grungier guitars kick in and a bit more snarl to the vocal in the middle section, listen really closely to the work Darren is doing before the breakdown, loads of ghost notes, in a way after STOP, that haunting vocal and just that guitar nearly reminds me of Radiohead, that reference came back to haunt me in the next section, it would be very easy to put a solo over that, but instead it keeps building up with walls of guitars and then when it comes to a stop, its then you get a restrained almost Peter Green style solo, very softly spoken and laid back!
Track 6 – My Baby (She’s good To Me)
Now that is 100% Stevie Ray, Pride and Joy style riff, its undeniable as soon as you hear it, I mean don’t get me wrong I love the both guys and Gary 100% does it his own way, I’m not saying anything otherwise but it’s that Texas Style shuffle, yeah Gary has done it before on Texas Strut from Still Got the Blues album, even the tones, I am in love with this track, that solo is gritty as all hell, I love it, the swing from Darren as well, who I have seen drumming for Josh Smith recently cements this track and the guy is a great drummer, what a track!
Track 7 – World of Confusion
An almost Manic Depression style track, complete with off time groove, great riff, full of that Hendrix chord, it’s that big vocal that Gary had, he just commands a presence with that, not just the guitar playing, lots of tasty little drum fills and rolls in this one, the guitar sounds are definitely more 60s feeling on this one compared to some of the other tracks, you get to the solo and there it is, yeah its very Hendrix but that aggression, the over bends on the notes, it’s so trademark Gary, fiery is a word that used all the time about Gary and it’s so true, love this track!
Track 8 – Ball and Chain
Now bear with me, go listen to early ZZ Top, Mountain and then Voodoo Chile from Hendrix and you will 100% know where we are at in this one. Really menacing dragging bass line and drums in the verse and then the pick up into the verse where we get a bit more open sounding, then back into that verse, with Gary following his vocal with guitar figures, ala Hendrix, great bluesy solo on this, then back into that verse guitar/vocal combo, before we get another solo, now the band back off on this and the guitar gets a bit cleaner, gives Gary a chance to open up, and if you notice at the start we are all backed off but as the solo keeps going the other two guys start to lay in a bit more and as they do, Gary also starts to open up and get more aggressive, it’s worth listening to some of the little bass fills Cass puts in there as well, just tasty little parts to keep it interesting, and before you know it your over 6 mins of solos that fly’s by till the song fades out!
Track 9 – World Keep’s Turnin Round
Oh, this one comes out swinging, and I mean that in terms of the groove as well, up tempo and really groovy as well, love the way the vocal follows the guitar part as well, great chorus on this, more of a rock chorus than blues and probably the most rock song on the album to be fair, still has a massive Hendrix influence all over it, but more modern sounding!
Track 10 – Who Know (What Tomorrow May Bring)
Second slow blues on the album, and you just straight away hear the warmness in Garys voice as soon as this one starts, really delicate in terms of the band and the instrumentation at the start of this one, and it sort of stays that way for a good bit until you get into the middle section where you get slammed with a wall of massive guitars before it just stops and breaks back into that start section again, lovely restrained start to the solo, again it has to be the Strat and not the Les Paul for that sound, we get a min of a solo before the distorted section comes in again and then breaks and we ride out the end of the album with a really restrained and open Gary solo.
This album for me is 7/10, I love the Hendrix 70s Blues Rock vibe all over the album and honestly if it wasn’t for track 3 which seemed like it should have been on the Different Beat album, I would be 8/10, I love Garys 80s stuff more than this and I am a huge blues fan so this album for me is always going to be good but not in the really favorite albums in the catalogue!
Power of the Blues
We round off this boxset with 2004s Power of the Blues, with an old hand back in the band in the form of bassist Bob Daisley who Gary had worked with before and Darren Mooney from the previous Scars band, this album was definitely a muscular affair, in the blues but with a lot of heft behind it!
Track 1 – Power of the Blues
Did you ever get the feeling everything is going wrong, yeah, straight in with an up-tempo driving riff, this album does sound more polished and maybe a little bit less organic than the last one, but it doesn’t suffer from it, I love the way they go from a straight feel into a shuffle in the middle of this one, it’s so simple but ultimately so cool, now there’s an aggressive solo, before it stutters into the break before hitting back into that straight riff and chorus again and then into a climbing outro solo part!
Track 2 – There’s a Hole
Now this could have been off After Hours the way it comes in, it’s a slightly more modern take on the blues, in terms of sound and also some of the little chord parts Gary puts in, definitely when you hit the chorus it’s a lot more modern sounding and I think Mr. Bonamassa took note of a song like this in his earlier days, we come down for the middle 8 before a screaming guitar note takes you into a solo just dripping in feel, great phrasing and we all know the guy is a master, love that little hanging guitar part after the solo just behind the vocal and the way the band stutters the riff into that last chorus which has that Thin Lizzy style harmony behind it before we hit over a minute of an outro solo which is just sublime!
Track 3 – Tell Me Woman
Slide and Wah opening before we slip into a lovely shuffle groove on this one, driving bass line with Gary playing slide guitar refrains around the vocal part, reminds me of Johny Winter, laid back solo on this, sprinkling some slide figures with a bit more Wah in the second half, it’s the lovely vocal quality the two things give to the solo, short song, in and out and its over!
Track 4 – I Can’t Quit You Baby
Gary announces this one with a booming vocal, on this Otis Rush cover, before we slide into a slow blues in the style of BB King, much like the great man, there is vocal and a guitar fill, it’s when it leads off the vocal you get the distorted guitar playing some chords to build up the section before it drops back down into that verse, listen to Bob Daisley on this, that’s how you play a blues bass line, keeps it down but adds little tasty notes and fills all over this one, lovely phrasing on this, double stops, two note bends, those fiery pull offs that Gary always did, the whole bucket is in here, but never overplayed, great solo then we build an break it down again, and we are out to the end of the song!
Track 5 – That’s Why I Play the Blues
This one reminds me of something like Midnight Blues, in terms of the way the track sounds as well as the actual guitar sound itself, its lovely the way the keys really subtly fade in and out especially around the chorus, they just add to the track without really being too noticed, I love the middle with the sliding double stop part, the solo starts like it’s going to be aggressive but then it just backs down and it really is like the song, subtle but so well put together, love the descending chord part at the end of the song just before it finishes!
Track 6 – Evil
Wah drenched intro, this is a cover of Howlin Wolf’s song, this song is all about that groove under pinned by Darren, really great snare sound as well I noticed on this once, he hits the groove in the verse, with a menacing guitar part under pinning the chorus part, it might be slide guitar, it’s hard to tell, before the song opens up for the solo, the bass is way forward and just solid, another great solo from Gary, understated but just what the song needs, it’s a short track at under three mins, love that ending, chaos!
Track 7 – Getaway Blues
If I feel this way tomorrow, going to make my getaway, this is really heavy swinging blues track but really slow swing, I love it, a really anguished vocal delivery from Gary on this one, his voice breaking at a few points, proper heavy middle part to this, not what you would expect in a blues, some nice guitar breaks in between the heaviness, then back into that groove before the solo proper, that bass is dirty sounding on this, lovely solo on this as expected, nice breakdown out of the solo and into the verse, it’s almost Rory Gallagher like with the vocal, that’s just my observation, great track!
Track 8 – Memory Pain
Slinky blues, the original track by Percy Mayfield, that’s a dirty groove right there, this one sound’s half blues, half 70s shaft, with that Wah under the vocal and carrying the riff, the way they go from the groove to that riff that splits it all up is really interesting because it doesn’t lose the flow of the song even though that’s what it is there to do, great solo, again you hear the influences when you listen to it but ultimately it sounds like Gary, a good long solo to stretch on before we hit back into that verse and then into the heavy chorus and out with jam band ending!
Track 9 – Can’t Find My Baby
More of a traditional Buddy Guy type of Chicago Blues on this one, love the addition of the B3 organ on this one as well, it adds such a vibe to the song straight away, Gary just sounds so at home on this track, not just vocally but the little parts he is playing around his vocals, I mean I have said it already, that solo, just fits perfectly, not flashy just exactly what you want to hear on a track like this, another verse and then Gary lets rip on the second solo, again he has a lot more in the tank but plays what the song needs, listen to that bass playing under it, Bob is a legend for a reason, I love Chicago Blues, this is a great song in that tradition!
Track 10 – Torn Inside
Fitting to take the album out, we have a slow blues, listen to how subtle the drumming is on this, the band laying a perfect bedrock for Garys soft vocal over the top of the track, the solo starts off so restrained, so much space between the phrases, it just suits what the song has done up until this point, we get another verse and then the outro peppered with guitar parts.
9/10 – I love this album, to me this is what Gary does best, his version of the blues, and he incorporates all the different types of grooves and shuffles, he can be fiery, restrained, subtle even all in one song!
The boxset is a really well presented and for someone like myself who already had the albums I would buy it, well packaged and some nice bonus additions, or if you don’t have these albums, it’s a great package to get them in! Highly Recommended!
Blu Ray components
Back To The Blues 5.1 Mix (Edited Version) + select interviews
Format: 4CD +5.1 Mix Boxset
Cat No: BMGCAT738BOX