Sunday, 6 February 2011

Gary Moore R.I.P.

click to read a review of Wild Frontier
After having been aware of Gary Moore for some time - specifically an amazing performance of Empty Rooms on Top of the Pops in 1985, I bought my first record of his, Wild Frontier, in 1986. As a Scot, his folk-drenched metal songs satisfied two of my passions, and I was hooked.

I travelled back and forth to the record shop, exploring his vast musical hinterland. Thin Lizzy's Black Rose was a knockout, and his seminal 1973 Grinding Stone fused the tail-end of psychedelia to hard-rock in a way that was emulated by Iron Maiden later in the decade. His work for Colosseum II was pure jazz, and I loved his guitarwork on Lizzy's 1974 Sitamoia, here with Phil Lynott on bass/vocals and Brian Downey on drums:



Moore and Lynott had a stormy relationship, due in no small part to Lynott's refusal to heed Moore's advice about the drink and drug-use that would lead to his death in 1986; thankfully, they are reported to have made up by then.

It wasn't all about the guitar music, though, as good as that was. Moore looked around him and wrote about the irony and contradiction in what he saw. The title-track of Wild Frontier, for example, was about the paranoia and devastation he saw on a return visit to his native Belfast, while that of After the War was about the status of members of US forces who'd served in Vietnam, and became an anthem for veterans of unpopular wars worldwide, and Fire in the Sky from Victims of the Future robustly condemned the Soviet Union's shooting down of Korean Airlines Flight 007, which had been on the last leg of a flight to New York to Seoul in 1983.

I think the last new release of Moore's I bought was 1997's Dark Days in Paradise, as I learn the lesson that comes the way of many music-lovers: you can get married and have a family, and you can collect music, but trying to do both doesn't work for at least the first 13 years.

My jaw hit the floor when I heard of Gary's death at 58 yesterday afternoon, and went through iTunes listening to the songs I'd lovingly digitised from LPs and tapes, remembering times associated with the songs and with when I bought the albums. You're not forgotten Gary - thank you for the metal, the jazz, the blues: the soundtrack to some amazing years.


Tony Urquhart

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