GARY MOORE – ” The Albums ” A Buyer’s Guide

Posted: February 18, 2022 in MUSIC

With Thin Lizzy, on his solo albums and playing jazz rock, Gary Moore proved himself to be one of the greatest guitarists of his generation. The death of Irish guitar hero Gary Moore at the age of 58, on February 6th, 2011, was marked by numerous tributes. Moore was remembered by Ozzy Osbourne as “a phenomenal musician”, by Queen’s Roger Taylor as “a virtuoso”, by Scott Gorham, who played alongside Moore in Thin Lizzy, as “a great player and a great guy”. And when Eric Clapton performed at the Royal Albert Hall in April 2011, he played an acoustic version of Moore’s “Still Got The Blues” a dedication from one guitar great to another. 

Robert William Gary Moore was born in Belfast on April 4th, 1952. He was just 16 when he first made a name for himself as a member of Dublin-based blues rock group Skid Row during Moore’s time with the group, they recorded three albums and toured with The Allman Brothers. Three years later, he decided to pursue a solo career. However, it didn’t take off, so he replaced Eric Bell in Thin Lizzy. The first time he was with the band was for a short time. However, in 1977, he joined the group full-time when Brian Robertson left.. And it was at this early stage of his career that he formed a lasting bond with Phil Lynott, who was briefly the singer in Skid Row before going on to lead Ireland’s greatest rock band, Thin Lizzy. 

Moore joined Thin Lizzy for a short period in 1974, and later returned twice. He made just one album with the band, “Black Rose“, in 1979. But he and Lynott were made for each other, and they continued working together for many years until Lynott’s death in 1986. 

Moore had a remarkably broad stylistic range. In the late 70s he recorded three albums of jazz rock fusion with Colosseum II. But it was as a hard rock guitarist that he made much of his best music, both with Thin Lizzy and then as a solo artist, and it was as a blues player that he made a successful reinvention in the latter part of his career, beginning with the “Still Got The Blues” album in 1990. 

In 1994 Moore lived out a teenage fantasy when he joined Clapton’s former Cream bandmates Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker in the short-lived project BBM. In ’95 he also paid tribute to his greatest influence, original Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green, with the covers album “Blues For Greeny“. 

Gary Moore – Corridors Of Power (1982) 

This, Moore’s best solo album, is a hard rock tour de force on which he stamped his authority as a major star in his own right. Backed by a band of the highest calibre – drummer Ian Paice (Deep Purple/Whitesnake), bassist Neil Murray (Whitesnake) and keyboard player Tommy Eyre (Joe Cocker) – Moore proved a ballsy singer as well as a shit-hot guitarist. 

The album begins with the scorcher “Don’t Take Me For A Loser”, (a tune I fell for right off the bat), the melodic power ballad “Always Gonna You”, Gary let’s it loose on this one. His ballad “Falling In Love With You”, the guitar shredding of “End Of The World”, with ex-Cream bassist, vocalist Jack Bruce, (should be on everyone’s top hard rock tunes of all-time lists!). The slashing “Rockin’ Every Night”, just good old style hard pounding rock. The hard blues sound of “Cold Hearted”, and the slow burning blues-rocker “I Can’t Wait Until Tomorrow”, with great organ work by Eyre and smouldering guitar by Gary.”

Corridors Of Power” has many great songs: the crunching “Don’t Take Me For A Loser“, power ballad “Always Gonna Love You“, and the self-explanatory “Rockin’ Every Night“. And on “End Of The World” Moore’s fast fingers whipped up a convincing approximation of the apocalypse.

Gary Moore – Dirty Fingers (1983)

One of the Irish guitar player’s best albums, although a not very known one. It’s strong, and Gary still wasn’t the lead singer on those days (1981). Strong hard-rock, a shattering version of “Don’t Let me be Misunderstood”, among other pieces of unforgetable rocking

Gary Moore – Still Got The Blues (1990) 

By the end of the 80s, Moore had tired of hard rock. This much was evident on his laboured ’89 album “After The War”. He responded by going back to his roots – playing electric blues. Moore did many experiments with multiple genres. This song is a return to the genre that started him on his musical path. The harmony is smooth and infectious, one of the songs you feel at a cellular level. Even though the lyrics are sorrowful, there’s a warmth absent in many songs of the same genre.

He was rewarded both with critical acclaim and a hit record. “Still Got The Blues” – which featured guest appearances from blues legends Albert Collins and Albert King, and George Harrison (Moore returned the favour for Harrison’s supergroup Traveling Wilburys) went Top 20 in the UK and was Moore’s only top 100 album in the US.

An excellent Blues album by a guy who is more well-known for rock. Listening to “Still Got The Blues” you would think that Gary Moore has been a bluesman all his life (which at his roots he has been). The album opens with “Moving On”; a high energy driving song. This is followed by “Oh Pretty Woman” and “Walking By Myself” (two more high energy songs that will make your feet tap). Moore slows things down with ‘Still Got The Blues” (a song that you would think every bluesman would do). The song “Texas Strut” fools you by starting out slow and simple, but erupts into a shuffle that will have your feet tapping again (it’s also cool how Moore gives credit to those who came from Texas).

And with this album’s soulful, stinging title track he created a modern blues classic.

Gary Moore – Back On The Streets (1978) 

“Fantastic album from legendary string-meister Moore. I’d say this is his best solo album by far (only ‘Corridors Of Power’ comes close) and that he was in his absolute prime on this recording. The playing on it is simply fabulous – tasteful, melodic, fast and fiery – a wonderful combination of technique and feel (his singing ain’t bad either!)”

This was Moore’s first proper solo album, but Phil Lynott also played a key role in “Back On The Streets”. And by the time the album was released, he’d coaxed the guitarist back to Thin Lizzy. Lynott took the lead vocal on “Parisienne Walkways“, which would become Moore’s signature hit. 

The pair also reworked Lizzy’s “Don’t Believe A Word” in its original slow blues format to brilliant effect, and had a blast with Lynott’s tongue-in-cheek song “Fanatical Fascists”. Moore showed off his chops on two jazz-rock instrumentals, but it was on the album’s kick-ass title track that he really let rip – as only he could.

Thinking about Paris evokes many different images. However, blues is typically not one of them. However, the mix of Paris in the spring lyrics with interludes of guitar solos takes Paris from cliché to otherworldly. The line “oh, I could write you paragraphs about my own Parisienne days” is apropos because, much like a picture, this song paints stunning imagery.

Gary Moore – G-Force (1980) 

Having quit Thin Lizzy for the final time in July 1979 amid rows over Lynott and Gorham’s drug use, Moore settled briefly in LA – where, bizarrely, he hooked up with two of the most infamous druggies in the business. First, he worked with Ozzy Osbourne. When that didn’t gel he formed a new band, G-Force, with Glenn Hughes. But Hughes was promptly fired and the G-Force album was completed with a new singer, Willie Dee

It’s Moore’s lost classic, full of punchy hard rock. And on the explosive double-whammy of “White Knuckles/Rockin’ And Rollin’.

Gary Moore – Victims Of The Future (1984) 

The follow-up to “Corridors Of Power” was essentially a repeat performance: “Murder In The Skies” is as cataclysmic as “End Of The World; Teenage Idol” is as gonzoid as “Rockin’ Every Night“; and, having nailed a killer version of Free’s “Wishing Well” on “Corridors“, on Victims Moore did likewise with The Yardbirds’ “Shapes Of Things“, with backing vocals from of all people Slade’s foghorn Noddy Holder

Gary Moore teamed up with Deep Purple drummer extraordinaire Ian Paice and legends Neil Murray and Jack Bruce for this 1982 set of metal guitar pyrotechnics augmented by well written songs and a soulful vocal delivery. Gary shines all over this album of course but what really stands out here is Ian Paice’s authoritative drumming. 

On “Empty Rooms” Moore softens down his style for a more stylized track. Even though, once in a while, there is a brief guitar interlude to break the sadness of the lyrics. Even though it is rare for a synthesizer to stand out without seeming forced and overproduced, it’s executed well when accompanied by a few additional sparse instruments. As the music unfolds, it discards much of the melancholy opening for a brief guitar solo before returning to the downcast lyrics of someone who is learning to live with a part of themselves missing.

Victims Of The Future” also includes Moore’s second-most famous rock ballad, “Empty Rooms“, and an epic title track. At Donington in 1984, Moore faced off against Eddie Van Halen and Angus Young in a battle of the guitar heroes. And he won.

“Victims Of The Future” is a genuine heavy metal album. The title and opening track sets the mood for the CD, putting great 80’s metal with nuclear anxiety right on the table. “Shapes of Things” will take you back to the Summer of ’83, when Gary dominated even US rock radio with this track. Maybe you’ve forgotten this fantastic rocker and maybe you didn’t even know at the time who it was. It’s actually a cover of an old Yardbirds song, but you’ve never heard a makeover like this! The ferocious, galloping rocker “Murder In The Skies” relays the true tale of a commercial passenger jet shot down by communist fighter planes during some of the most intense moments of the cold war. “Empty Rooms” is one of his best tunes on here. I loved this album back in the 80’s and it still rocks today. Gary Moore has always been a killer guitarist and he showcases his chops to great effect on this release.

Gary Moore – Wild Frontier (1987) 

The first album Moore recorded after the death of his friend Phil Lynott, “Wild Frontier” carried a simple dedication on its cover: ‘For Philip’. Moore had written the album’s title track for Lynott to sing. In the end, the song and the album would serve as an epitaph. One has to agree that “Wild Frontiers” is another slice of hard rock brilliance, outcome of the enviable musical talent of Moore. “Thunder Rising” is one of the most devastating hard rockers ever, the mega-emotional “The Loner”, the impossibly epic “Over The Hills And Far Away”, the AOR-ish “Strangers In The Darkness”; and of course “Wild Frontier” which carries-dare I say- the greatest melodic guitar line ever. From there onwards you get the heartbreaker “Take a Little Time”, and equally enjoyable “Friday On My Mind”.

You simply can not beat the choruses, the guitars, the harmonies and the lyricism on this album!”

On the “Loner” the listener can hear some of Moore’s experimentation at the beginning of the song. Although it sounds Native American in sections, there is still a lot of his most significant influence, blues. As the song progresses, the guitar becomes more gritty. However, the chords sway in and out of more hopeful arcs. Another element that blows this song out of the water is the intermittent drum lick punctuations, just forceful enough to jolt you from the soft atmospheric music.

On his way to the Wild Frontier, Gary Moore found himself at a cross roads: certainly, Heavy Rock wasn’t just for hard men on motorbikes anymore but nor was it necessarily for a solely white audience either: Moore and his producer were clearly cognisant of the change ushered in by Aerosmith’s collaboration with Run DMC on “Walk this Way” – alas all it culminated in during this session was a fairly lame rap remix of his excellent Easybeats cover, “Friday On My Mind”. In other ways Moore was returning to his Irish roots – there is a definite Gaelic feel to the cover of Big Country’s “Over the Hills and Far Away”, the title track, In any case I think this return to the roots was a good thing – certainly much more bona fide than the blues “renaissance” he would subsequently experience – and it sets this record apart from most of the others that were coming out at the time.

Moore’s voice sounds more sinister on “Over The Hills And Far Away” than he does on others. With the addition of drums, a touch of Celtic instrumentation, and lyrics that read like a creepy Victorian children’s book, this song is anthemic mastery. This song is another example of Moore’s love of experimentation, especially since it has many different genres.

There is a flavour of Moore’s and Thin Lizzy’s Irish heritage in “Over The Hills And Far Away”, a Top 20 hit, and in “Johnny Boy“, the album’s closing eulogy. And on “The Loner”, an instrumental written by ex-Jeff Beck Group keyboard player Max Middleton, Moore’s playing has a deep and powerful emotive quality. “Wild Frontier” was the perfect tribute to Lynott.

Gary Moore – Run For Cover (1985) 

After the G-Force debacle in 1980, Glenn Hughes was understandably surprised when Moore brought him in as co-creator on “Run For Cover”. Glenn Hughes plays bass and sings on “Reach for the Sky”, “Out of My System”, “All messed Up” and “Nothing to Loose” being the more uplifting, glamorous and popular side of the album. Phil Lynott, on the other hand, performs lead vocals and bass on “Military Man”, a song he had intentionally written for his own project as well as sharing a vocal duet with Gary on “Out in the Fields” which turned out to be Moore’s biggest European hit single to that point. Both songs represent the album’s more aggressive side with strong ties to the previous album “Victims of the Future”. Moore, for his part sings lead on “Listen to Your Heart Beat” and “Empty Rooms” the album’s ballads with the latter standing as the record’s second hit single. As before Gary’s guitar work is extraordinary delivering the appropriate tone (melody-wise) for each and every tune on “Run For Cover”.

But, once again, this dream team quickly turned sour. Hughes was a crack addict, and when Moore found out he was promptly fired. The overlays of African instruments that open the song “Out In the Fields” are only a brief pause before it launches into dynamic guitar riffs and propulsive drum beats. The triumphal music is similar to Europe’s The Final Countdown. Whenever there’s a guitar solo in this song, it sounds like an impromptu jam session kept on the final track.

As a result, Hughes featured on only half of the album, and delivered a great lead vocal on “Reach For The Sky“. But the best tracks were the two that Moore recorded with Phil Lynott: the classic top five hit “Out In The Fields”, and “Military Man”, originally written for Lynott’s post-Lizzy band Grand Slam. These tracks were Lynott’s last great performances. The sound of some songs is very 80s and dated.
Overall a worthwhile if inconsistent album.

After Hours (1992)

“It was Gary’s second blues album making his fans understand that the brilliant hard rock six-string sorcerer was into slightly different musical genre. Not too many guitarists and singers could have done this, but Gary did. The album helped him to solidify his status on stage and hit lists at the same time, which was or still is another extraordinary achievement.”

Colosseum II – Electric Savage (1977) 

Colosseum ll Elecrtic Savage released in 1977… 8 songs of pure jazz/ rock fusion bliss. Drummer extraordinare Hiseman’s band kills it. with Don and Gary it’s an absolutely classic albums Don Airey On Keys and the great Gary Moore on guitar of course the one and only Jon H on drums playing unbelievable.

As Spinal Tap discovered, jazz-rock fusion isn’t for everyone. But it was in this idiom that Gary Moore really stretched himself as a musician. In 1975 he teamed up with drummer Jon Hiseman to form Colosseum II, the successor to Hiseman’s pioneering late-60s fusion group Colosseum. And of the three albums recorded by Colosseum II, “Electric Savage“, the second, is the best. 

Also featuring future Rainbow/ Deep Purple keyboard player Don Airey and bassist John Mole, who replaced original member Neil Murray, the album showcases a level of virtuosity that makes Yes sound like a punk band.

Blues For Greeny (1995)

This is probably one of the finest albums ever recorded, let alone best guitar/blues/rock/whatever. At the very least, this inspiring and affectionate tribute, along with Moore’s live appearances, helped returned Green to a new generation of guitar players, and a welcome antidote to the ubiquitous shred of the time (nothing wrong with shred, mind, proud owner of a scalloped neck myself).”

Thin Lizzy – Black Rose (1979) 

Thin Lizzy’s 1974 album Nightlife featured Moore on one song, their classic ballad “Still In Love With You“. But in his third and final stint with the band, he stuck around long enough to record a whole album. And it was the best he ever made. Come 1978, Moore was ready to rejoin Thin Lizzy and he would go on to help write and record the band’s most successful studio album “Black Rose: A Rock Legend“, which was released in 1979. The album’s title track, in particular, features some incredible playing and guitar arrangements, combining four traditional songs into one seven-minute spectacular.

Moore put a rocket up Lizzy’s arse. His blistering double-tracked guitar solo on the hit single “Waiting For An Alibi” had fellow Lizzy guitarist Scott Gorham joking, “Fuck you, Gary!” And as Gorham later stated: “It was Gary’s idea to bring the Irish-ness back into Thin Lizzy.” The result was the album’s rollicking, beautiful, mythic title track, “Roisin Dubh (Black Rose) A Rock Legend“.

After The War (1989)

This material is a direct representation of that same characteristic. I love his Irish laments and sentiments. He also is so playful with his picking on Zeppelin emulators on the track “Led Clones“. A little fusion here a little blues there with all the adept talent, skill, and technique that forged his music on the anvil of genius. When someone condemns Gary for having produced hard rock in the eighties I simply say to myself-Yeah, I can tell your not a musician ! He played everything he was capable of performing.”

Moore was himself an inspiration, to a generation of rock guitarists including Slash, Randy Rhoads, Joe Bonamassa and, not least, Vivian Campbell, who in 2011 took time out from Def Leppard to play Moore’s role in the reunited Thin Lizzy

Gary didn’t fuck about when it came to playing guitar,” says Campbell. “There was a full-force physicality to the way he played. He didn’t just play fast, he played furious. That was the difference between Gary Moore and other guitarists – that intensity.”

In a career dating back to the 1960s he has played with bands/artists including Thin Lizzy, Colosseum II, Greg Lake and blues-rock band Skid Row as well as having a successful solo career. Among many cameo apperances over the years, he performed the lead guitar solo on “She’s My Baby” from the album Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3. For most of his career, Moore was also heavily associated with Peter Green’s famed 1959 Gibson Les Paul guitar. Moore was later honoured by Gibson and Fender with several signature model guitars of his own. 

Moore started performing at a young age, having picked up a battered acoustic guitar at the age of eight, and got his first quality guitar at the age of fourteen, learning to play the right-handed instrument in the standard way despite being left handed. His career lasted over thirty years.

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