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Main Category: Guitar Heroes
Also applicable: Heavy Metal, Roots Rock
Starting Period: The Punk/New Wave Years
Also active in: The Divided Eighties, From Grunge To The Present Day



Disclaimer: this page is not written from the point of view of a Gary Moore fanatic and is not generally intended for narrow-perspective Gary Moore fanatics. If you are deeply offended by criticism, non-worshipping approach to your favourite artist, or opinions that do not match your own, do not read any further. If you are not, please consult the guidelines for sending your comments before doing so. For information on reviewing principles, please see the introduction. For specific non-comment-related questions, consult the message board.

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Year Of Release: 1979
Overall rating =

That's Gary Moore for you - you have to tolerate the corny ballads to get to the Big Meat.


Track listing: 1) Back On The Streets; 2) Don't Believe A Word; 3) Fanatical Fascists; 4) Flight Of The Snow Moose; 5) Hurricane; 6) Song For Donna; 7) What Would You Rather Bee Wasp; 8) Parisienne Walkways.

It's funny how strictly Gary seems to adhere to the "decade" thing; normally being an oh-so 'Eighties' guitarist and all, his only solo album released in the Seventies sounds, for the most part, just like a typical (but certainly advanced) Seventies guitarist's album is supposed to sound. It's no wonder, then, that Back On The Streets is sometimes looked upon as a subpar album, an insecure and timid conservative debut that was obliterated by everything that came afterwards, but with all due respect, I sorta disagree. It's just less flashy, because in the 70s, guitarists weren't as flashy as in the 80s. Which doesn't, of course, mean that Gary plays slower - he just doesn't emphasize that he's playing fast.

Back On The Streets does display some weak spots, of course. Gary recorded it rather hurriedly, at about the very same time that he was serving his brief stint in Thin Lizzy and helped Phil Lynott record Black Rose; in return, Phil agreed to help Gary on his own solo record and even contributed some songs, some lead vocals and some bass playing. And Phil has the misfortune of singing on the record's corniest number - 'Parisienne Walkways', a sappy formulaic ballad that displays Gary's most troublesome penchant for generic weather channel muzak from the very beginning. It is, in fact, extremely frustrating to hear this piece of corny garbage ring out of your speakers after almost an album-worth of solid material. He's reused that standard 'pseudo-moody' technique many times since, particularly on 'Still Got The Blues' and stuff like that, and I loathe it - banal elevator muck that does nothing but constantly fall back on 'cathartic' cliches. Granted, it may not have been so banal in 1979 - I'm not sure they really used this stuff on weather channels at the time - but then again, it is the same kind of tricks that Santana had patented with 'Europa' in 1976, so who the hell may know...

In any case, the ballads are what sabotages this album - apart from 'Parisienne Walkways', there's also 'Song For Donna', which, while slightly less generic and featuring some breathtaking arpeggios on the verses, essentially sounds like a very skimpy parody on classic period Stevie Wonder. Except it forgets to add anything vaguely resembling a hook, and the vocals are downright pathetic. One might also question the validity of Gary and Phil's "slow" re-recording of the Thin Lizzy classic 'Don't Believe A Word' - the bassline, borrowed from 'Born Under A Bad Sign', definitely rules, but the fast, bleeding original was so much better and so much more grippin' that it's even hard to begin to compare. Once you distance yourself from the original, though, the revamped version is hardly bad at all, particularly in the 'duetting' department. And they do push up the tempo eventually, so the coda at least does remind you of the power this song once had.

But, of course, it's the fast numbers that make the record. In fact, it's almost amazing when I take one more look at the overall quality of the album - how these lame shits-of-taste peacefully coinhabit the environment of such otherwise accomplished and venerable hard rock compositions. Because the other two songs on the record are ferocious rockers, true Gary Moore classics - the title track just kicks all kinds of ass all over the place. Mayhaps it doesn't have a particularly memorable/unique riff, but it's all compensated by the energy; in fact, that's the main trick here, as even the lesser tunes are often salvaged by Gary simply jumping out of himself to prove his talents and worth. 'Back On The Streets' milks the 'rebel vibe' for all its worth, runs along at a frenetic pace, and from the very start establishes Mr Moore as one of the most amazing shredders in the business (not to mention one of the first ones). Funny that there's nothing even remotely close to that technique on his only Thin Lizzy album, Black Rose - maybe Lynott did not want Gary to exploit his full potential because it would overshadow the rest of the band.

The second number is the Lynott-penned 'Fanatical Fascists', with some of Phil's most complex and ambivalent lyrics - is the song really about neo-Nazism or it's just a standard anti-capitalist rant? Lord only knows, in case he didn't forget to ask Phil about it. Cool energetic rocker with not much soloing power, but with plenty of drive and mind-boggling riffage. I'd actually like to see it recorded by Thin Lizzy in their Gorham/Robertson days, though, there's plenty of space for these two guys to practice their imagination in the song.

The rest of the record is dedicated to instrumentals most of which are in the fusion vein - reflecting Gary's past musical experiences, mainly his work with Colosseum II. This is usually called the weak link on the album, but I disagree. As much as I'm not a fusion fan and even find a lot of Jeff Beck's mid-Seventies musings pointless and boring (though not all of them), this record shows the real potential of fusion. And that potential? Why, to getcha rockin' all over, of course! It's all technically perfect, but it's also mighty powerful music - not just 'experimental' and not just 'mood-setting', but it's real cool fusion that's intelligent on one hand and rip-roaring, on the other hand. The seven-minute piece 'Flight Of The Snow Moose' (hey, subtle attack on Camel, eh?) never bores me at all, and neither do the other two. You just need to turn your amps REAL LOUD and let yourself get carried away. It helps if you're a prolific air guitar player. Plus, 'Hurricane' runs faster than a freight train, and 'What Would You Rather Bee Wasp' has got a TON of tremendous musical ideas - riffs, great synth lines, you name it. Power, speed, and memorability - if all avantgarde jazz/jazz-rock kept remembering these three pillars of quality, I'd be ready to die a happy man. But then again, it probably wouldn't be so "avantgarde" if it did remember, would it?

In all, just throw out the miserable ballads (which somehow managed to tamper with my overall rating, and now there's hardly anything I can do about it! No I can't change it! I'm not in the mood for cheating right now!) and you get yourself a prime late-Seventies guitar album. Sure, Gary would go on to quite different things starting from next year - but they're not necessarily better things. Be democratic. Admit that if a person only produced three fusion compositions in his entire life (presumably, Gary produced some earlier when he was still in Colosseum II, but that doesn't matter in this context), that doesn't mean they can't beat the shit out of somebody who's played fusion for years on end. Reason? A little annoying thing called talent.



Year Of Release: 1980
Overall rating =

And now there's too much stupid sugary muck rendering the guitars useless. When will we be happy?


Track listing: 1) You; 2) White Knuckles/Rockin' & Rollin'; 3) She's Got You; 4) I Look At You; 5) Because Of Your Love; 6) You Kissed Me Sweetly; 7) Hot Gossip; 8) The Woman's In Love; 9) Dancin'.

Gary Moore's own band! Presumably the six billionth or so in which he'd played, but at last he has absolute control - and yet even so, he couldn't have made it last for more than a year. (Tempers, tempers, but hey, a guitar hero gotta have tempers. If you don't have the balls to sock over your colleagues and buddies, you don't have the balls to play a wall-rattlin' guitar, either. Think Jeff Beck or Ritchie Blackmore. Then again, I'm just speculating. Gary Moore could be Mahatma Gandhi's lost offspring for all I know).

Well, anyway, the current CD edition says "Gary Moore's G-Force", although as far as I understand the original editions only had the "G-Force" to 'em, and that kinda makes sense if you make G stand for "Gary" (and "Force" stand for "string", but never mind). In any case, the band sucked, and rightly so. Dumb stupid flashy cock rock with lyrics on the level of the Dave Clark Five/Herman's Hermits circa 1963, and you can hardly tell how absolutely ridiculous this sounds when combined with ballsy metallic riffs on an Eighties record. How well does the "Look at how arrogantly my guitar extends my penis!" and the "I cried all night long because I love you so very very much" moods fit together, exactly?

Yet even so, I kinda like it. Composition-wise, it has no more merit than a concurrent, uhm, Foreigner record or something (actually, I think Foreigner wrote better lyrics than 'How come when she's cold/She can melt your heart/And when she's so blond/It can tear you apart' - what is this, a hair bleach commercial?), although that's actually not quite fair - in terms of hooks, I'd say Foreigner owe them one. Not that it matters, because who needs hooks when they're so "gloopy"? But on the other hand, it certainly has balls-a-plenty, and unlike Mick Jones, Gary Moore never really held back when he didn't need to. And the less he holds back, the more this record claims its ground.

If anything, it's not Foreigner, but Van Halen that the boys take for their main model: you gotta take a listen to 'White Knuckles', the instrumental intro to the gritty 'Rockin' & Rollin', and understand that this is the band's 'Eruption' - apparently, the thought of Eddie Van Halen's achievements tormented poor Gary in his sleep, and he ended up recording something similar. Listen to these two celebrations of self-indulgent flashiness back to back and you tell me who of these guys is actually playing faster. And Mr Moore isn't even using the "tapping" technique, it seems, but he still hits a million and one notes per second. The funny thing is how his lightning-speed passages are initiated with a slow chord sequence that usually introduces wretched weather-channel influenced power ballads! You almost start thinking, 'oh my, not a crappy boring "emotional" ballad...", and then you get something as ballsy as that. The 'Rockin' And Rollin' thing itself is also probably the best thing on the album, and it certainly didn't become the only permanent fixture from G-Force in Gary's subsequent live set for nothing.

There are also a few other songs like that on the album, fast catchy rockers with fascinating guitar technique and a great Van Halen-esque drive. The weak link is the vocals - I'm not sure who's the main vocalist on the record (both keyboardist Willie Dee and bassist Tony Newton, as well as Gary himself, are credited with vocals, but looks like most of the tunes are sung by just one guy), but the vocals are pretty dorky overall, whether it be ballads or pop-rockers or gritty metal rockers. Just the classic cock-rock Coverdale-model stereo-type. Not nearly as annoying, but without a single hint at humour or irony, and then where are we? Still, the gritty metal rockers are fun. 'Dancin', for instance. Funny, there was a time when "pop-metal" wasn't yet a derogatory combination - I mean, when it was dominated by the likes of Van Halen and Gary Moore, instead of, I dunno, Poison, the grass was so much greener!

Granted, when the band really goes pop, it becomes a thorough embarrassment. 'The Woman's In Love', for instance, absolutely shamelessly borrows the main violin (sic!) line from ELO's 'Sweet Talkin' Woman', and hideously rapes it by putting it to a clumsy and imbecile-sounding chorus instead of Jeff Lynne's pop marvel (and I am serious - 'Sweet Talkin' Woman' is a terrific song, unlike this bland parody). And isn't putting Van Halen-esque metal and ELO-like violin pop on the same record a slightly kinky way of understanding the term 'diversity'? Plus, when the band slows down to catch its breath on a couple slower songs, they are revealed as melody-less and cheesy - 'I Look At You', for instance, is just a feeble overwrought power ballad (hey, "feeble power ballad" is a nice little oxymoron, isn't it?), with the 'you're my life, you're my reason for living' bit being The Big Puke Effect of the record. Not even Moore's guitar work saves these ones.

And I won't be naming any other names because the other tunes aren't all that memorable, but one thing is for sure - whenever Gary rips it up, the song is saved. Contrary to rumours, he does not play the same finger-flash pattern on every song... okay, on about half of them only. But the solo on 'Because Of Your Love', for instance (oops, I named one), is very restricted and tasteful, with a classy guitar tone at that. And yeah, there's a lot of finger-flashing on 'You' (oops, there goes another one), but the way Gary moves up and down the fretboard really fits in very well with the general mood of the song. He's truly a great guitarist, and certainly doesn't deserve any less recognition than Herr Von Halen.

Except he needs to learn to write better lyrics, you know. You know you're in trouble when your only ballad on the album begins with the line 'Sometimes I feel so lonely', and you're in double trouble when the vocalist doesn't actually shy away from the line, mumbling it through his teeth as if it were understood, but actually belts it out as if the whole world were holding its breath waiting for these words to finally see the light of a brand new day. Basically, it's like starting your blues song with 'I woke up this morning' or your country song with 'I was born a ramblin' man', only worse, because balladry is not supposed to be formulaic, you know.



Year Of Release: 1982
Overall rating =

Never liked those corridors much, especially when they're choked with crappy pop metal.


Track listing: 1) Don't Take Me For A Loser; 2) Always Gonna Love You; 3) Wishing Well; 4) Gonna Break My Heart Again; 5) Falling In Love With You; 6) End Of The World; 7) Rockin' Every Night; 8) Cold Hearted; 9) I Can't Wait Until Tomorrow.

Errr.. no. This isn't a very good album. In fact, if not for the (occasionally not even too well felt) presence of Mr Moore, it would be just a shitty album - a shitty generic Eighties pop-metal album. Well I don't exactly say "hair metal", because to my knowledge, Gary Moore never really flaunted a lion mane around, but it might have as well been so. With the songs more or less equally distributed between "generic mid-tempo metal with poppy background vocals" and equally generic, sugary power ballads, there's really nothing to write home about as far as songwriting goes. I mean, it's pretty pathetic when for one of your power ballads you have to 'sample' the Beach Boys - I spent long painful hours trying to understand what did that 'it's not the same when I look in your eyes' line remind me of until it hit me like a megaton of bricks that it's sung exactly in the same manner as the opening line from 'Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)'. Now that's one sordid rip-off if there ever was one - take a beautiful line out of one of the most beautiful songs ever written and trample it into the "lowest common denominator" dirt.

Mr Moore, as usual, eliminates part of the pain with some great guitar work. Not on the power ballads, which reach an excruciating low on the nearly eight-minute long 'I Can't Wait Until Tomorrow', a piece of ridiculous faux-soul worthy of Dave Coverdale or someone like that. You gotta give credit to Gary; unlike David "Big Fat Tits" Coverdale, he does not alternate his power ballads with embarrassing cock rockers, a trick that I've always personally found pretty lame (say what you will, but it does sound kinda awkward when you lavish luxurious, if cliched, romantic praises on her unparalleled beauty on one song and then go on offering unloading your hot weapon within her shady grove or something like that in the next one). There's no dumb cock rock on here at all; the closest they come to it is with the 'every hungry woman' line on 'Cold Hearted', but that's really tame. There's just a vague sense of genericity and - get this - no memorable riffs at all. That hurts.

So one of the best tunes, actually, is a friggin' Free cover - okay, so it's true that 'Wishing Well' is one of that band's best songs, but had it continued in the same way, I guess we'd eventually have Gary covering Bad Company. A red-hot rockin' version of 'Rock'n'Roll Fantasy'? Groovy, now you're spekkin' my language! The actual cover is good enough, although Gary's vocals (he sings most of the tunes here by himself, or so I've heard - most of his guest vocalists always sounded the same, anyway) are nothing special. And you gotta give the man his due, he pulls off some terrific tricks on the song; I gotta reiterate that in the early Eighties, Moore was probably the only guitar player that could out Van Halen Van Halen himself.

This is particularly well seen on the classic guitar intro to the album's best tune, the moody rocker 'End Of The World', where Jack Bruce makes a guest appearance on vocals. The short passage at the second minute, for instance, presages the famous hammer-on rhythm of AC/DC's 'Thunderstruck' - the Youngs simply bothered to take the passage and work it over into an actual basis for a song, while Moore just toys around. Then the intro finally leads into the main part, and Bruce totally makes the song with his inspired vocal delivery. It's funny that Bruce himself has a pretty pompous operatic vocal (although you need to check out some of his solo albums to see all of his capacities, his small Cream legacy doesn't do it justice), but it works fine when applied to a pop-metal number because it has that specific kind of 'whine' which reduces the actual pretention to dust (how can somebody that whiny be that pretentious?) and, on the other hand, injects a dose of sincerity. Hey, maybe if Bruce were the singer in Whitesnake, there would be more of a market for pop metal in my heart.

There are a couple other nice songs here. 'Rockin' Every Night' is an equally cliched number, starting from the title and ending with everything else, but it's fast, energetic as hell, and just simply one of those cases of "mindless fun" where even the elitist has no reason whatsoever not to merge with the wider audiences in a little purifying headbanging. The album opener, 'Don't Take Me For A Loser', makes up for decent radio fodder, I guess. Catchy on a basic level, but soaring so high up to the sky with its pretentions that I can't stand the outcome. And 'Cold Hearted' is redeemable for the awesome guitar tone - with a little basic metal rawness getting out of the limits of the normally smooth, tepid production. Plus, it has another breathtaking solo, arguably the most passionate one on the album. With a guitarist of lesser talent, it's often amusing how he can spend so much effort on building up "tension" and still ending up looking like a forgettable wanker - Gary Moore gets it done amazingly well, even if his gradual tension building is just as obvious, loudly screaming out "Now I'm gonna make you believe I'm being wildly emotional about this song even if I might actually simply be demonstrating my professionalism!" And he does make you believe that. The trademark of all top-notch shredders.

However, every single ballad on the album is a complete waste of my, and your, time - I really might just as well be listening to Mark III Deep Purple. The sound is decent enough, I give you that; the poor production still isn't as vomit-inducingly clean and slick as on your average Foreigner album, and there are next to no keyboards, which is weird for a metal album that's essentially so much rooted in its time. But the melodies are rote and banal to the core ('Falling In Love With You' almost puts us back into weather channel mode), and if the fates of the world demand me to prove that, I'll bravely set out on that endeavour chordbook in hand. Until then, you can just take my word for it, since your only alternative would be to spend money on this album, and you'd be so much better off by just downloading 'End Of The World' off whoever you may find it on. (And don't forget to be a nice guy and pay good money to RIAA so that they can afford all their lawyers to sue the asses of your less smart companions. Always remember - law-abiding citizens live long, healthy, cholesterol-free lives).



Year Of Release: 1983
Overall rating =

Well, crappy pop metal is tolerable, I guess, when it's well loaded with nice note combinations?


Track listing: 1) Victims Of The Future; 2) Teenage Idol; 3) Shapes Of Things To Come; 4) Empty Rooms; 5) Murder In The Skies; 6) All I Want; 7) Hold On To Love; 8) The Law Of The Jungle.

A guilty pleasure if there ever was one! When you take this sinister-looking Black-Mesa-of-an-album-sleeve-endowed offering in the grand context of 1983, it's like everything seems to be working against it. First of all, Gary himself takes most (if not all of) the lead vocals on here, and by this point it's safe to say I don't dig his singing at all, and probably never will - he's like a double-whiny Gary Brooker with twice as much bombast and twice as little subtlety and totally zilch self-irony. Next, the music is formulaic to a tee, once again generic early Eighties slow-to-moderately-fast power-pop-metal with power ballads in vast abundance. We sure saw that one coming, but there's always hope for a little change, and it's practically anti-human rights to deny it to us. And on top of it all, the lyrics, while never quite succumbing to the temptation of cock-rock, are so painfully straightforward you'd think that the primary goal of writing 'Murder In The Skies' was not to really express Gary's feelings about the infamous incident of the Russians shooting down a Korean plane, but rather to inform the "unsuspecting public" that such an incident had actually occurred, in case they missed the latest CNN news special. (Come to think of it, maybe it really was. How many Gary Moore fans do watch news programs?).

But God strike me dead of burger poisoning if these songs aren't - you know what? - damn well written. And damn well played. I'll just start with the single example of 'Hold On To Love'. It's a friggin' preachy power ballad (well, more like a cross between a ballad and a rocker, if you think of tempo as the defining factor). It sounds like it could have been written by Foreigner in half an hour. It's got those crappy stinkin' "trendy" mid-Eighties synths all over it to add "atmosphere". It faithfully follows in the steps of all those preachy "hymns to love" from generic Seventies bands I could never stand in my life. Then why can't I get the goddamn song out of my head? And moreover - listen to this - why is it that the chorus to the song actually seems emotionally resonant to me? Wait - I just got the reason. It's an indirect rip-off of Macca's 'Beware My Love'; the chorus melody builds up on chord sequences that are very very similar to Paul's. But they're similar, not the same, which is why I used the word 'indirect'. And with Gary's great skills at his axe he can certainly make great use of a melody that indirectly borrows from ol' Paul.

And these tasty tidbits are out there in virtually every song - all of them are on the brink of being dismissed as stale formulaic hair metal, but always save themselves at the right moment! Here's the title track, which begins like a pretty lame ballad, but then magically metamorphoses into a terrific rocker, with two high pitched note sequences overimposed over the basic riff, never to get out of your subconscious again. 'Teenage Idol' sounds like Black Sabbath circa The Eternal Idol - no innovation, just a magic head-spinning riff that kicks originality in the crotch. Who cares if the lyrics are dumb? We're here to kick ass, not to admire Gary Moore's poetic genius or anything! Then there's Moore's take on the Yardbirds' classic 'Shapes Of Things', which he interprets close to Jeff Beck's solo version, i.e. as very heavy and as chaotic as possible - although he never refrains from the pleasure of supplementing the obligatory 'psychedelic' guitar solo in the middle with some of his own patented guitar pyrotechnics. Bow down to the great speed of the master! Has he got little diesels in his fingers?

The main highlight, I think, is still 'Murder In The Skies'. I guess it was sort of touching on Gary's part to commemorate the horrible fate of Korean passengers in a heavy metal epic, even if the actual lyrics, like I said, leave a lot to be desired. But the song could be an instrumental for all I care (and it probably would have worked better that way, eh?), because there's a great atmosphere that Gary creates on here. One thing I kinda lack about that era of heavy metal is the almost total lack of "guitar experimentation": you got your average metal guy choosing upon his individual style and from then on you pretty much know all of his tricks. Same thing with Judas Priest, same thing with Iron Maiden, heck, same thing with Gary Moore for the most part as well, but on 'Murder In The Skies', particularly towards the end of the song, Gary just goes out of his way to imitate the sound of a rocket speeding towards the airplane and of the explosion and crash. Some really magnificent guitar work on there, and a smashing, apocalyptic ending to one hell of a metal epic.

Plus, there's a great riff in the funky 'All I Want', and, in fact, only the really slow, really plodding, really inadequate ballad 'Empty Rooms' and the really slow, really plodding, really intolerable rocker 'The Law Of The Jungle' leave me totally cold. Of course, it was 'Empty Rooms' that had to be one of the two singles and it had to be Gary's highest chart success since 'Parisienne Walkways' which had to be yet another one of his worst songs ever - but let us not be so mean as to present this for the ultimate argument against 'commerciality', shall we? There are hit singles that deserve their success and hit singles that don't, and it's been that way ever since the concept of a hit single had been introduced into the social consciousness.

Anyway, two unremarkable songs on a Gary Moore record, now that's a record. And just look at how low the power ballad proportion is, compared to the previous album! I'm not sure it was intentional - the power ballad thing is a chronic disease that nobody can get rid of once it hits hard - but I'm quite happy with the results all the same; finally I got me a Gary Moore record that I can freely enjoy practically from top to bottom. Never "venerate" - don't get me wrong, it's no classic, I'm just amazed that such a sterile combination of elements (cheesy synths, monotonous Eighties metal guitar, pompous Eighties metal vocals) is actually capable of producing a decent aural effect after all.

Heck, feel free to throw on a whole point more if you're less sensitive towards cheesy Eighty metal than me. Like I said, almost every song on here could have been a hit for Foreigner, instead they were given heavier and less compromising arrangements and became non-hits for Gary Moore. And mind you, the guy might not be a cool singer, but I'll take his whine over Lou Gramm's pseudo-operatic "you're as cold as ice!" pathos any day.



Year Of Release: 1984
Overall rating =

It's only natural that if you want the BEST, you just have to WAIT.

Best song: HIROSHIMA

Track listing: 1) Hiroshima; 2) Dirty Fingers; 3) Bad News; 4) Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood; 5) Run To Your Mama; 6) Nuclear Attack; 7) Kidnapped; 8) Really Gonna Rock; 9) Lonely Nights; 10) Rest In Peace.

Now here's a totally unexpected surprise if there ever was one. Just as you were starting to think that Moore has settled into a comfortable rut once and forever, just as you've pretty much lost hope of the guy releasing anything consistent, of hearing an album that wouldn't be half genius and half schlock... all of a sudden, in the midst of this uneven career, spoiled by generic power balladeering and slick overproduction, you get an album that's nearly all comprised of high-quality riff-rockers, loud, dirty, crunchy, and equally powerful - how can that be? An album that's solidly and tastefully entertaining from beginning to end in 1984? Pulling my codpiece, are ye?

Well, I was right to suspect something unusual - eventually I did learn that Dirty Fingers was actually recorded as early as 1980, and for some reasons was not brought to completion; only in 1984, when Gary's finally achieved some major recognition among the metalheads, the record company went ahead and put the stuff out. Mr Moore actually used to complain about it, saying that the album was never really finished and that while he liked the actual songs written for it, it didn't turn out the way he wanted. Hah! Shows just how much the man was dependent on Eighties' cliches - if by complaining about the production, he meant that it didn't have enough synths splattered all over the record, we can only praise the Immanent Spiritual Entity for this.

Because Dirty Fingers, true to the name, is really raw, and easily the least dated product of Moore's Eighties metal period - and my favourite (studio) metal album of his, period. It doesn't really present the man at the peak of his technical powers; strangely enough, there's not an awful lot of speedy flashing solos on here (perhaps he planned to overdub them later?). Yet even so, the riffs are mostly good, and I guess a huge amount of lightning-speed finger-throbbing isn't really the only way to showcase a guitar player's talent. On the positive side, there's only one ballad on the entire album, the closing six-minute 'Rest In Peace', which predictably sucks (at the very least, there's nothing about it that would somehow distinguish it from, you know, the MASS), but doesn't spoil your enjoyment of the previous nine numbers. (It's also a bit unusual lyrically for Moore - a dirge about one's deceased love instead of the usual 'always gonna love you gonna break my heart again' fluff).

Don't expect any true miracles from the rest - it's just one speedy metal-rocker after another; not too much diversity, but I'm not even asking a record like this for diversity; I just want it to R-I-P. In spots, the raw keyboard-independent style actually reminds me of Iron Maiden, maybe because the guy who sings most of the lead vocals on here (Charlie Huhn, the former lead vocalist of Ted Nugent's band) looks like an early "preview" version of Bruce Dickinson. But since the emphasis is usually on raw power and ecstatic, inspired ass-kicking, instead of the mega-professional, but somewhat sterile style of Iron Maiden, I actually like this one better. Really, don't forget that Gary knows how to be precise and punctual, but he also knows where he can let his hair down and sacrifice some precision in favour of a more spontaneous soulful delivery, so...

'Hiroshima' opens the record with Gary's tribute to the Japanese disaster in classic "apocalyptic metal" fashion, fast, breathtaking, and with that Charlie guy screamin' off his lungs just like you'd expect him to do while commemorating the world's greatest artificial catastrophe. A typically Iron Maiden sound on this song, maybe a little bit simpler in terms of riffage, but they go for the same kind of epic onslaught, and remember, Iron Maiden had only just formed when this stuff was recorded. I actually prefer the song to the much better known and much more overplayed 'Murder In The Skies', although it lacks the latter's bombastic sonic experimentation. But obviously the seeds of one were planted in the other; Gary likes himself some prophetic bombast from time to time.

The title track is a one-minute instrumental where Gary again challenges Eddie as the real fastest guitar player on the face o' this earth - who's afraid of a little bit of "guitar masturbating" if it's so fun? Especially if it seamlessly flows into the slower, but equally impressive, rocker 'Bad News', with the classic metal crescendo executed in a perfect way; check out Gary and Charlie's vocal-guitar battle at the end of the track for an example of really cheesy, really grating, really breathtaking Eighties pop-metal at its most obnoxious and charming at the same time.

Other highlights include: Gary's excellent metallic take on 'Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood', where he manages to "translate" the original melody of the song into the language of metal without losing one 'word' or one intonation - and, observe that, denies himself the right to "spoil" the song by inserting a guitar solo, sticking to subtle lead guitar lines all over the song instead; another rumination on the apocalypse topic, 'Nuclear Attack', where they actually did not forget to add the keyboards (played by Mr "I Played With Every Metal Band Alive And I Reduced Them All To Shit" Don Airey), but fortunately, since you keep on thinking about the nuclear attack in question, these keyboards play something like the part of a wailing siren in your subconscience, so they don't bother you that much in the end; the part-KISS, part-Foreigner rock anthem 'Really Gonna Rock', which is, once again, the kind of thing that works well if you have a committed ace guitarist like Gary (but usually works as shit if you have it played by any of the other two mentioned bands); and the funky workout 'Lonely Nights'.

Even the lesser numbers have their moments - thus, the honour of having the best instrumental passage on the entire record falls to 'Run To Your Mama', a simple, otherwise undistinguished blues stomper that, as it often happens with blues stompers, provides a great opportunity for both Airey and Gary to indulge in a short, but sparkling keyboard/guitar jam. Maybe just a couple 'lighter' numbers like the way-too-poppy, almost bubblegummy 'Kidnapped', don't work so well (and don't forget the stinky power ballad at the end), but overall, Dirty Fingers is just amazingly consistent for Moore's standards. It's records like these that really make me admit that Mr Moore is something special, something like the Eric Clapton of heavy metal - great talent, great abilities, very frequent lapses of taste, very frequent blunders, but somehow always pulls his stuff together when necessary.



Year Of Release: 1984
Overall rating =

Well, I don't know if I really want "mooooore", but the record's pretty good anyway.


Track listing: 1) Murder In The Skies; 2) Shapes Of Things To Come; 3) Victims Of The Future; 4) Cold Hearted; 5) End Of The World; 6) Back On The Streets; 7) So Far Away; 8) Empty Rooms; 9) Don't Take Me For A Loser; 10) Rockin' And Rollin'.

A sprawling, scrawling, and strawling (okay, as a professional linguist, I do admire combinations of initial s- with stop-and-resonant clusters, so sue me), anyway, a terrific live album with a bad, but tolerable, pun offered for a title. And let me tell you, when nobody loves you and you're down and out, it is a good thing to realize yourself as the owner of a live Gary Moore album. No, it may not warm your throat as confidently as a good Martini, but when played loud enough, will certainly make the life of your neighbours far more miserable than your own.

One might, indeed, correctly remonstrate that this particular guy, Gary Moore, rarely holds off in the studio as well, so it's not quite like a Deep Purple or a The Who live experience where certain gentlemen reveal abilities on stage that could only be hinted at in the quiet domain of the Recording Temple. In other words, the audience already knows the guy shelters lightning in his fingers, thus, you don't need no seventy-minute-long live album to prove that unmistakable fact to you one more time.

But that's theory. Even more precisely, that's bad theory. Good theory will tell you there's always the pragmatic factor as well, not to be missed by all means - and said pragmatic factor tells you that there's no resisting a sprawling, scr... sorry, a cool, energetic live album when it's jam-packed with great songs, no matter what conclusions your comparisons might lead you to. And there's twice-no-resisting a cool live album when, with the sole (tolerable) exception of 'Empty Rooms', there's not one single friggin' power ballad on it, not one single excuse to get out your lighter and transform an honest way to have a good time into a cheap religious ceremony. None of that; just one catchy, fun kick-ass rocker after another.

Of course, according to the true, unbreakable laws of the classic school of hard rock (and remember that, despite pioneering a lot of Eighties' metal stuff, Gary Moore is, in spirit, continuing the line of his Seventies' gurus rather than joining the new crowds of pop metal idols), many of the songs are extended so that Gary can display some extra pyromania during the instrumental passages. The backing band is pretty solid as well (particularly ex-Deep Purple Ian Paice on drums, who definitely upholds his reputation as one of metal's best drummers on this release - bashing and crashing in all the right places and wisely restraining himself in all the other ones), but it's definitely Gary's show. He actually does most of the singing as well, although sometimes he trades vocals with other band members.

And he's unquestionably in top form. Well, truth be told, the live version of 'Murder In The Skies' pales in comparison to the studio one because onstage, Gary isn't able to reproduce all those mind-blowing "plane-crashing" guitar effects near the end of the song; but he more than makes up for it with inventive soloing (check out the 'rocket firing' that closes the number) and a big bucket of adrenaline - a perfect album opener if there ever was one, despite the somewhat unnerving lyrical matter. (Just how many people in the audience actually knew, or gave a damn about the lyrical matter, though? Compassion for the tragedy victims is the last thing that this rocker brings on one's mind).

The version of 'Shapes Of Things', in comparison, almost beats out the studio version. There's a whole bunch of guitar tones, effects, and unimitable playing tricks happening out there in the instrumental section - in places, comparable with Hendrix-style psychedelia of the mid-Sixties, which is quite understandable considering the tune's origin ('Shapes Of Things' is, after all, the quintessential psychedelic single of its epoch), but not often witnessed on Eighties' metal guitar hero albums. So, instead of simple indulgence and flashiness, you actually get an updated Eighties-style tribute to the guitar innovations of the Sixties, performed with taste and imagination. And it brings the house down, of course.

For the ultimate test in flashiness, though, you gotta check the four-minute coda to 'Cold Hearted', where Gary displays his ultra-precise classically-influenced style of soloing that, as far as I'm concerned, easily beats out both Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhoads (though maybe not some of the more streamlined "shredders" like Joe Satriani). If you hate it, so be it - I'm not gonna knock on your door and blow your brains out for disagreeing; but keeping in mind that these technically magnificent solos come from the hands of the same guy who's crafted all these memorable, well-constructed riffs, and got a good feel for both heavy metal and the blues, I'm really willing to connect one to the other and state that it's all part of the same great game.

I guess the only serious lapse of taste on the record comes at the very end, where a great, steamin' version of 'Rockin' And Rollin' ends in a rather lame attempt at having some audience participation, and Gary just doesn't have vocal cords impressive enough to keep screaming 'I'll be roooooooooockin' into the audience for several minutes. Decidedly anti-climactic, and I never liked the audience participation idea in the first place, so... well, it's a good excuse for me to save me a couple minutes extra time for something more productive. (I almost ended up specifying the exact productive thing, but then reminded myself that I'm actually through with forging cheap imitations of Mark Prindle, so it's your guess).

Other than that, the album flows extremely well, with Gary always holding just enough distance from the audience so as not to spoil the experience. It's hard to say anything else about the individual tracks - there's no true rearranging or reinvention going on here, so only the improvisational solos are seriously different from the originals (plus, there's also a short atmospheric instrumental called 'So Far Away', which isn't nearly as bad as Gary's usual excursions into the world of elevator muzak, but isn't anything special either, meaning that I normally just think of it as a big intro to 'Empty Rooms' and skip the two altogether). So, instead of discussing the songs I've already wasted my brain powers on, I'll just state that yes,We Want Moore indeed may serve as the ideal introduction into the metallic world of Mr Moore, mainly due to a nearly entire absence of dreck (can we forgive 'Empty Rooms'? Perhaps...) and a whole lot of highlights.

I'm not even sure if this record can still be found anywhere, but if you happen to see it in the dustbin, make the effort of picking it up. Believe me, there was some metal in the Eighties that had a commercial sound to it and was really tasteful and inventive at the same time. And hey - there's nothing on here for Mrs Gore to hold on either! So feel free to rock your little baby to sleep with the help of the soothing, relaxing sounds of 'Murder In The Skies' any time of year. And yes, this is the best Gary Moore that one portion of CD-oriented money can buy, because I'm not sure if there even exists a greatest hits compilation that hasn't got that piece o' shit 'Still Got The Blues' on it. This one hasn't! The song hadn't been written yet!

Well, okay, it had been written. It was called 'Parisienne Walkways'. And guess what - it also was a piece of shit! But fortunately, Gary doesn't do it on here.



Year Of Release: 1985

Judging by the title, you would have thought Gary had implanted an implicit call for his fans to steer clear of this album, but titles can be deceitful. Turns out that Gary actually can produce a seriously solid metal album even when it is covered in gloss and sheen of Eighties overproduction. It's still a slice short of a loaf of Dirty Fingers, but hey, that's up to the loyal fans to bitch about these minor things, we the transcendental luminary reviewers can certainly disregard them. Ours is a high and lonely destiny. To boldly go... well, you get my drift.

So, whenever a lonely wonderful metal album like Run For Cover gets in the way of our Jedi mission, it's a hey and a ho and round the mulberry bush we go. I'm not sure if the mock-'Baba O'Riley' grimey synth loops in the introduction to the title track were the right choice for starting off the album, but the song itself is just another excellent and memorable rocker from the hands of Mr Moore. Ah, how silly on the part of Mr Moore to 'grace' it with stupid dated synthesizers! How come he never realized that a grittier, angrier, more stripped-down delivery would establish his name as the name of one of the greatest metal players ever to walk this planet? Record sales? Critical respect? Glory and fortune? Rock Hall Of Fame induction upon first year of eligibility?

Nah, I guess that wouldn't be enough, after all. But a good song is a good song even if you listen to it on a copy-protected 8-track. Same goes for 'Reach For The Sky', where Moore gets preachy and actually a bit annoying (and what does the chorus mean? 'Reach for the sky, come out with your hands up!' This is supposed to be an optimistic reassurance of the proverbial loser!), but the melody still rules. Did I actually mention that at times you can feel little bits of Beatlesque influence in Moore's output? That's no big wonder - the Beatles were a huge influence on the metal scene (Ozzy Osbourne!) - but Gary is sometimes able to streamline these influences and make use of 'em. Check that line about 'don't lose your heart when things go wrong'. Why does it remind me of McCartney?

Run For Cover is also notorious for containing Gary's last collaboration with Phil Lynott - he takes lead vocals on the fiery anti-war song 'Military Man' which, sure enough, sounds very much like a late period Thin Lizzy song (come to think of it, many of Gary's songs have the Lizzy vibe to them; I wonder how could that possibly be? Thin Lizzy influences in the work of Gary Moore? When we all know Gary Moore spent the first twenty years of his life mining in Angola?). The melody in that particular tune isn't much to speak of, but Lynott's usual charisma saves it from becoming obnoxious.

In general, I guess this whole record is pretty poppy - poppy choruses, poppy dated synths, bits of dancey music all around - but that ain't bad as long as Gary keeps the riffs and solos afloat. And what's wrong with a catchy chorus? 'Nothing To Lose' is about thrice as good as the Kiss song of the same title, and the Kiss song was actually one of the few Kiss songs I did like. 'Keep on rockin' and rollin', keep on singing the blues' may sure go down in history as one of the most cliched choruses in the history of the Eighties, but goddammit, when it's upheld by immaculate riffage from a man whose playing has been all but cliched through most of his career, I sure can forgive the lyrics. Some guys write the words, some guys just keep on rockin' and rollin', and baby, that's some classy rock'n'roll on this record. I do realize that a lot of Gary's songs sound like Foreigner minus Lou Gramm and Mick Jones plus Gary, but sometimes one minus and one plus are all that is necessary to make the transition from rubbish to genius.

Anyway, it's just song after song of great guitar playing and catchy choruses ('All Messed Up' is a personal favourite of mine - again, switch the guitar player and you got yourself nothing more than an average Kiss rocker, but then again, switch the guitar player on any given Jimi Hendrix Experience song and you're pretty much fucked up to the limit). For some unexplainable reason Gary deemed it necessary to include a remake of 'Empty Rooms' on the album; maybe he was just being so modest he didn't want to have a perfect album in his catalog. (Even so, now that I think of it, it's not too bad a song; it's marred by the generic power ballad atmosphere, but it does have some interesting, well-constructed vocal lines to it). Other than that, and the general fact that, well, it's just good ol' Gary Moore squeezing out his tube of Formulafresh once again, I have no complaints. Just another proof that Gary was, indeed, one of the three or four best metal guitarists of the Eighties. Why doesn't anybody except me know of this guy? Hey, it's not like I'm trying to promote my talentless second cousin or anything! Does anybody even read these reviews? Am I screaming in vain in the middle of the desert?


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