Gary Moore

The Best of the Blues

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A handy and generous double-disc (one live, one studio) compilation of Gary Moore's four Virgin label blues albums is predominantly an excellent introduction to this showy hard rocker turned midlife third-generation bluesman. The 31 tracks liberally sample from his relatively short five-year association with Virgin (roughly 1990-1995) but ignore his excellent 2001 Back to the Blues release on Sanctuary. Still, there are more than enough hot licks here to prove that Moore could be a convincing blues musician if he decided to give up his more ostentatious shred rock profession and focus on blues full time. While purists may gripe as Moore tears off searing, high-voltage riffs on covers of tracks made popular by Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Otis Rush, and John Mayall as well as Freddie, B.B., and Albert King (the latter two along with Albert Collins turn up as guests on both discs), there's no denying the emotional ties the guitarist has to this material or his obvious vocal and instrumental talents. Unfortunately, Blues for Greeny, Moore's successful tribute to philosophical mentor Peter Green, is under-represented with only a handful of cuts, one of which ("Need Your Love So Bad") is presented in an edited single version. Otherwise, this is a well-selected but poorly annotated (bandmembers aren't even mentioned, nor are sources of the songs or when and where the live tracks were recorded) compilation that shows how a rugged rock star can transform into a respectable bluesman, albeit one who plays very loud. Gary Moore may not be a rootsy, down-home guitarist, but he's just as passionate about this music as anyone who recorded for Chess. If Moore can expose other generations to the blues, as Cream and the Rolling Stones did before him, he has done his job well.

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