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Gary Moore’s 1990 release ‘Still Got the Blues’ holds the record as the biggest selling blues album of all time. To date it has become the career-defining album of this highly talented Belfast-based guitarist and yet it was intended as a retrospective of the 1960s blues-rock songs that had inspired him to learn the guitar in the first place. The style of artists such as Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green (whose guitar Moore used extensively during the recording) shines through. Indeed half of the tracks are in fact covers, including collaboration with Albert King covering King’s own song ‘Oh Pretty Woman’. Other notable collaborators include Albert Collins and former Beatle, George Harrison
So there’s no shortage of talent and with a little help from his friends Gary stamps his own identity on the album with a series of passionate and energetic performances. On the up tempo tracks there is a real sense of the band enjoying themselves, whilst there is a sincere intensity to the darker songs such as ‘Still Got the Blues’ and ‘As The Years go Passing By’. Despite the fact he is principally an instrumentalist, the vocals have much the same passion and enthusiasm as his guitar playing. He’s very much a blues player, focusing on emotion, rather than the fret melting solos of someone like Joe Satriani, but make no mistake, Gary Moore is extremely good at what he does. The commercial success of this album owes a lot to it’s title track – an achingly beautiful ode to love lost, which takes more than a hint of inspiration from his earlier solo hit ‘Parisienne Walkways’. It starts off with an unforgettable signature riff that quickly gives way to vocal led verses, before the guitar comes back in force with a series of powerful instrumentals culminating in an uninterrupted, bittersweet solo of nearly 3 minutes duration. The whole thing is classic Gary Moore – you can almost visualise the ‘blues grimace’ on his face as the guitar cries with every perfectly executed string bend and each beautifully sustained note.
The song content is well balanced across the album, with tracks like ‘That Kind Of Woman’ having an old school dance band feel that wouldn’t sound out of place performed by the Blues Brothers – thankfully, this is not an album that leaves you reaching for the razor blades. Other up-tempo highlights include Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson’s ‘Too Tired’ and Moore’s own rock and rolling ‘Moving On’. All of which makes this an essential album for classic rock fans and an ideal introduction to blues.