Gary Moore

Essential Montreux

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This five-disc box collects as many complete concerts by Irish blues-rock guitarist Gary Moore, recorded in 1990, 1995, 1997, 1999, and 2001 at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Some might call this too much material, especially given the number of songs that recur (four versions of "All Your Love," three each of "Oh Pretty Woman," "Too Tired," and "You Don't Love Me," and two each of "The Blues Is Alright," "Further on Up the Road," "Need Your Love So Bad," "Parisienne Walkways," "Since I Met You Baby," "Still Got the Blues," "Stop Messing Around," and "Walking by Myself"), but there is in fact substantial variation from disc to disc. The obvious outlier is the 1990 disc, on which Moore is joined for four superlative songs by legendary Texas guitarist Albert Collins. But the 1997 concert finds Moore moving from straight Chicago-style blues to an alternative metal roar, the guitar cranked up ferociously loud and backed by a mix of live instruments, occasionally chintzy synths, and programmed beats. By 1999, he's returned to the blues, albeit a hard-rocking version that's still closer in spirit to Blueshammer than Buddy Guy. The 2001 set is a mixed bag, running the gamut from a restrained take on "Stormy Monday" to an almost punk rock sprint through Jimi Hendrix's "Fire" and the amp-frying closing instrumental "The Prophet." At each concert, he's backed by a sympathetic and skilled band (including horns in 1990 and 1995), which only draws attention to one of this set's biggest flaws -- the total lack of information. Concert dates are provided, but no personnel listings or songwriting credits. It's a shame that the backing musicians are so ill-served, but otherwise, any serious Moore fan would do well to pick this set up and spend an afternoon or two wallowing in six hours of screaming blues-rock guitar.

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