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Exhuming a Legend
on 9 February 2017
I wonder if we were all a bit unfair to Gary Moore when he was alive. In the past year (2016) we have seen so many music 'greats' depart with elaborate fanfare, yet hardly a murmur seems to have accompanied Gary's passing 6 years ago. But when you listen to the heap of great records he left us, perhaps we all should have shouted his name louder. Maybe he just didn't have 'the look' - unfortunately that may have counted unfairly against him.
Focusing on his '80s rock era, Gary was such an antidote to cocky American hair metal. While he performed with great authority, he came across as a very fragile personality. His songs evaded the shallowness that the MTV generation tended to go for and instead were often either anti-war songs (Fanatical Fascists, End of the World, Victims of the Future, Hiroshima, Nuclear Attack, Military Man, Out in the Fields etc.,) or lamentations about being a sad case (Don't Take Me For A Loser, Always Gonna Love You, Gonna Break My Heart Again, Empty Rooms etc.,).
There seemed a lot of sorrow in Gary's life - and he could really bring that to his music. He was able to mix bombastic technique with tenderness in his guitar work. Corridors of Power is stuffed full of it (try Always Gonna Love You). I love all the guitar giants of the 70s and 80s and listening to a record like CoP, I reckon he stood shoulder to shoulder with them.
Perhaps, on reflection, he was not quite at the cutting edge of rock guitar, defining a style that would influence streams of others (eg Hendrix, Clapton, Beck, Page, Blackmore, Van Halen, Malmsteen, Vai). But that should not stop us from wallowing in his delicious sounds.
I think we were also rather critical about Gary's voice - but actually, it's excellent. He had a great range and great feel. I love his duet with Jack Bruce at the climax of End of the World. His balladry was also well performed - especially on CoP. A bit cheesy but I like cheesy rock ballads. And the song RIP from Dirty Fingers, beautifully sung by Gary, is a massive hit single still waiting to be discovered by the masses - stick it in a popular TV soap opera or big budget movie and it will fly.
I once saw him in W.H. Smiths in my home town during the mid 80s. I felt it was wrong to intrude on his privacy so I didn't speak to him. Wish I had now.
If you love classic rock music with great songs, superb riffs, cheesy ballads and awesome guitar, Gary's rock records are for you - so go and get them. And Corridors of Power should be the first one on your list.
I'm asking; is it time to confer legendary status on Gary Moore?