REVIEW: Gary Moore – How Blue Can You Get

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February 6th, 2021, marked 10 years since the tragic passing of iconic Irish guitarist Gary Moore. He left behind a formidable back catalog of music and legacy matched by very few others, what with an esteemed solo career and stints with THIN LIZZY, SKID ROW, and COLOSSEUM II. Honoring this legacy, Provogue will be releasing a new album filled with some previously unheard and unreleased deep cuts from the Moore family archives on April 30, 2021. As the title, “How Blue Can You Get,” suggests the album ventures deep into the beguiling shades of blues, presenting Gary Moore as one of the finest modern exponents of this pedigree genre. Among the cover renditions of some blues classics, there are also a few unreleased Moore originals that channel the spirit of old blues legends quite magnificently.

The album kicks off with a couple of cover versions. The first one is a rip-roaring take on Freddie King‘s “I’m Tore Down,” a Moore live favorite, and the other one is a steady-rolling rendition of the Memphis Slim original, ”Steppin’ Out.” Had the production approach leaned more deeply towards the blurred soundscapes of vintage blues-rock albums, one could easily be fooled to think that these cuts had been tracked around the 1960s or the early 1970s when the blues-rock phenomenon was having a field day. That is to say that Gary Moore is not using the blues format as an excuse to indulge in a mindless shredding frenzy – he played the blues as though meaning every single note plucked on the instrument.

For the young and aspiring metalhead like me, who had found Gary Moore‘s music somewhere in the 1980s, the instant success album, ”Still Got The Blues,” delivered a surprise blow in 1990. For me, having been introduced to Moore‘s music through tracks such as ”Out in the Fields,” featuring his old bandmate Phil Lynott, the sudden U-turn from hard rock to blues came out of the blue (sic). Keeping in mind that Moore grew up listening to Eric Clapton and John Mayall, it shouldn’t have come as surprise, though. Previously unreleased Moore-original ”In My Dreams” resonates with the strong aura of his 1990 blues outing. So does the alternative version of his 1982 song ”Love Can Make A Fool Of You.”

On his epic, 7-minute version of BB King‘s 1964 hit ”How Blue Can You Get,” Moore showcases some scorching blues chops in terms of both the guitar licks and the vocal delivery. Sir Bob Geldof‘s remark about Moore being ”one of the great Irish bluesmen” really did hit the nail on the head. The cover version of the Elmore James track, ”Done Somebody Wrong,” further proves this to be exactly the case.

While the album as a whole is thoroughly delivered to the high standards of modern blues, two tracks stand out as something very special. First, ”Looking At Your Picture” takes a side-step deep into the realms of electronic swamp-blues. The track could be the love child of the late Finnish garage outfit 22-PISTEPIRKKO and Lightnin’ Slim, incorporating a diabolically groovy blues-riff upon a static machine drum beat. I dare bet nobody could see this one coming out from the Gary Moore archives! Then, the last track, ”Living With The Blues,” brings closure by soaring into the stratosphere with beautifully aching Hammond-swells and Moore‘s signature Gibson laying down the law. By now, it’s easy to see why guitarists such as Joe Bonamassa, Paul Gilbert, Kirk Hammett, and Zakk Wylde have all cited Gary Moore as an influence.

The strange appeal of blues-rock is all about the raw emotion and the way it ”sneaks” the devil’s interval – that dissonant ”blue note,” the flatted fifth – into the basic pentatonic scale. In a way, heavy metal was basically, in its nascent form, just an aggressive amalgamation of ’60s garage rock and blues riffs – yes, the Devil’s music… Oh, well. It goes to show, once again, that the Devil’s got all the best tunes. A few of those are nicely packed on this fine selection of unearthed gems from the Moore archives. You’re very welcome.

Written by Jani Lehtinen

Tracklist

  1. I’m Tore Down
  2. Steppin’ Out
  3. In My Dreams
  4. How Blue Can You Get
  5. Looking At Your Picture
  6. Love Can Make A Fool Of You
  7. Done Somebody Wrong
  8. Living With The Blues

Lineup

Gary Moore – guitars and vocals
Various musicians on each track

Label

Provogue

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