Gary Moore - Blues And Beyond album review

Late, great Irish blues dynamo gets his due in both a two-CD and handsome four-disc set

Cover art for Gary Moore - Blues And Beyond album

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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.

Late NME, Daily Mirror and Classic Rock writer Gavin Martin started writing about music in 1977 when he published his hand-written fanzine Alternative Ulster in Belfast. He moved to London in 1980 to become the NME’s Media Editor and features writer, where he interviewed the Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer, Pete Townshend, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Ian Dury, Killing Joke, Neil Young, REM, Sting, Marvin Gaye, Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone, James Brown, Willie Nelson, Willie Dixon, Madonna and a host of others. He was also published in The Times, Guardian, Independent, Loaded, GQ and Uncut, he had pieces on Michael Jackson, Van Morrison and Frank Sinatra featured in The Faber Book Of Pop and Rock ’N’ Roll Is Here To Stay, and was the Daily Mirror’s regular music critic from 2001. He died in 2022.