Gary Moore was a racked, impassioned and troubled individual, as Harry Shapiro’s excellent biography – included in the full bells-and-whistles box set edition of this collection – makes clear. It was our good fortune that much of his inner turmoil found release in his music, specifically the blues.
In the period covered, between 1999’s Beat To The Street and 2004’s Power Of The Blues, Moore was unassailable.
Fresh from his gunslinger stint with Thin Lizzy and Phil Lynott and holding his own with jazz-rock heavies Colosseum II, Gary was free to assert formidable mastery across a range of blues formulations. The intensity of the performances is breathtaking, a heady cocktail combining the showboating flair of Jeff Beck, the astonishing firepower of Stevie Ray Vaughan and the fervent impassioned feeling of fellow Irishman Rory Gallagher.
Moore’s devastation and dominance rages in the searing, distorted Gibson tonality of You Upset Me Baby, turning easily to piquant lyricism on the gently awed Picture Of The Moon – his playing shredding and sympathy in equal measure.
Add the giddy hairpin speed and calamity stoked by How Many Lies or the Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac evoking lambent doom of Torn Inside and Moore’s all consuming greatness – as frontman, bandleader and composer – is confirmed.
The two-disc set ends with a live take of the showstopping Parisienne Walkways but Moore’s natural playing to the gallery flamboyance gets a fuller airing on the previously unreleased live show featured on the box set’s two-disc Blues and Beyond Live set.
The 1999 performance is deliriously combative and gloriously defiant. Perhaps stung by critical reaction to the forward thinking A Different Beat and previewing new, as yet unreleased, material this is GM at his unvarnished, back to the wall, best.
Forging allegiance with past masters Elmore James and Jimi Hendrix, his own place in the formidable tradition is made firm with indelible cry from the heart Cold Black Night and the wild, yearning, sky-scraping glory of The Prophet.
Moore’s premature death in 2011, aged 58, robbed the world of a mighty talent. This collection captures him at an awesome peak.