The Sanctuary Years: a somewhat arbitrary snapshot of Gary Moore’s career

All kinds of blues rise to the surface on a collection of turn-of-the-century Gary Moore recordings

Gary Moore The Sanctuary Years cover art
(Image: © BMG)

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This somewhat arbitrary four CD snapshot of Gary Moore’s career around the turn of the millennium kicks off with 1999’s A Different Beat, which was a continuation of the detour he’d started a couple of years earlier on Dark Days In Paradise, setting his bluesy guitar against an electronica backing and sampled vocals. Viewed from a distance of a quarter of a century, it’s not as radical as it sounded back then. 

The drum and bass that propels Moore through Lost In Your Love and the cover of Jimi Hendrix’s Fire is bold, as is the lengthy, ambient Surrender. But the purists will still hate it. They’ll be relieved by 2001’s Back To The Blues, with its rollicking You Upset Me Baby, although they might be perturbed that so many Moore originals have a familiar ring to them. 

They can also unravel the sound on the Blu-ray 5.1 mix bonus disc. On Scars (2002) Moore unleashes some of his toughest guitar since Thin Lizzy in a balls-to-the-wall trio setting, and the prevailing attitude of Wasn’t Born In Chicago – ‘but I can still play the blues’ sums it all up. 

You certainly wouldn’t want to tell him that a couple of the tracks are just Hendrix rewrites. On 2004’s Power Of The Blues he looses the attitude but still packs a punch. This time his own songs are strong enough to stand up by themselves, which makes you wonder why he bothered to deliver a note-perfect Led Zeppelin version of Willie Dixon’s I Can’t Quit You Baby.

Hugh Fielder

Hugh Fielder has been writing about music for 47 years. Actually 58 if you include the essay he wrote about the Rolling Stones in exchange for taking time off school to see them at the Ipswich Gaumont in 1964. He was news editor of Sounds magazine from 1975 to 1992 and editor of Tower Records Top magazine from 1992 to 2001. Since then he has been freelance. He has interviewed the great, the good and the not so good and written books about some of them. His favourite possession is a piece of columnar basalt he brought back from Iceland.