Still Got the Blues by Gary Moore
By Eamon O'Neill
Born in Belfast in 1952, Gary Moore is quite rightly regarded as one of Ireland’s finest guitar players. A singular force with unparalleled technique, natural ability, and an otherworldly flair, the six-stringer forged a career that has seen him recognised as one of the most influential guitarists of all time. As a solo artist, band member, and collaborator, his legacy looms large to this day, with the likes of Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, Iron Maiden’s Adrian Smith, and Europe’s John Norum all citing him as a key influence.
Moore always forged his own path, and by the end of the 1980s, had worn many musical hats. A member of classic rock behemoths Thin Lizzy on and off, he’d dabbled in jazz crossover with Colosseum II, and carved out a solo career that touched on metal, and saw him scoring a number of hits in the pop charts. More recently, he had embraced his roots with the Celtic rock of ‘Wild Frontier’ , in memory of former bandmate Phil Lynott who had passed away the previous year. However his heart truly lay elsewhere, and as the new decade dawned, he returned to his first love; the blues.
Released in 1990, ‘Still Got the Blues’ was a complete reinvention. Where his previous album ‘After the War’  pushed him further into bombastic heavy metal territory - Ozzy Osbourne featured on the track ‘Led Clones’, and he even landed a front cover for heavy music bible Metal Hammer - ‘Still Got the Blues’ toned things down, taking him right back to the start.
Making this as plain as day from the off was the album’s artwork. The front cover featured a child - styled as a young Gary himself - in his bedroom playing along to his records, Hendrix poster adorning the wall; while on the rear, a fully-grown, present day Moore mirrored the scene in a hotel room.
Announced with its first single, the (almost) title track revealed a more mature musical direction. It wasn't though, a complete departure. There had always been blues in Moore’s nimble fingers, and ‘Still Got the Blues (For You)’, a tender and utterly beautiful lament, had a similar chord sequence and structure to his 1979 hit ‘Parisienne Walkways’.
Arriving a month later, and asserting Gary’s stellar reputation among his peers, the album once again featured a number of guests, including a former Thin Lizzy bandmate, and a brace of bona fide bluesmen.
Opening things up, the upbeat ‘Moving On’ sets the scene. A blues rock boogie with honkey tonk piano and slide guitar soloing to make the greats envious, it was clear Gary had found a new musical lease of life.
Following with standard ‘Oh Pretty Woman’, Moore roped in blues royalty in Albert King to provide licks, fills, solos, and downright authentic attitude. Another cover, ‘Walking By Myself’ followed, proving the Moore of old was still present in his fierce and utterly fearless soloing technique. Similarly, although no cover, ‘Texas Strut’ - the first of a handful of tracks to feature Lizzy’s Brian Downey on drums - takes unashamed inspiration and pays homage to Billy Gibbons, with a groove dripping with ZZ Top’s southern swagger.
Kicking off side two, Albert Collins lends leads to a cover of Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson’s ‘Too Tired’. A faithful romp that sounds like they were having far too much fun to be fatigued, it’s followed by the laid back jam ‘King of the Blues’.
The purest blues moment is saved until almost last, however. The slow blues of ‘As the Years Go Passing By’, with its Hammond organ, horns, and foot-off-the-gas - as well as the overdrive - licks, is dripping with soul, tenderness, and Mississippi misgiving.
Blues was to be Gary Moore’s home for the rest of his career, save for a brief dalliance with dance beats and loops in 1999, with the vastly underrated ‘A Different Beat’. Passing away suddenly in 2011, he now rests in the grounds of St. Margaret’s Church, Rottingdean, on the south coast of England.
His music, and impact however, live on. Speaking to eonmusic, Def Leppard’s Vivian Campbell summed up this most unique of players; “When I first heard Gary Moore play, I was blown away”, he said. “Not only was he so technically good, but he played with such total conviction. He never went; “oh, I’m just going to play a guitar part”, he played his guitar like he wanted to kill it”
We’ll leave the final words to Whiteshake’s David Coverdale, who spoke to the author in 2020; “Gary Moore, what an extrapolator guitar player!”, he exclaimed. “It was such a loss, and as vivid as my memories can be, there's no way I could remember the intricacies, the cosmic effect of Gary's playing. A giant”.
Still Got the Blues was released on 26th March 1990 and is available to buy at Vinyl8.
- 1. Moving On
- 2. Oh Pretty Woman
- 3. Walking By Myself
- 4. Still Got the Blues
- 5. Texas Strut
- 6. Too Tired
- 7. King of the Blues
- 8. As the Years Go Passing By
- 9. Midnight Blues