Bad For You Baby

Gary Moore

Eagle, 2008

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


If anyone had asked this question in 1988 – “What do you think Gary Moore will be known for 20 years from now?” – the answer probably would have seemed pretty clear.  Besides competing with Rick Wakeman for the title of most times joining and leaving the same band -- which he did at least three times with Thin Lizzy -- Moore was known mostly as a terrific guitar player who couldn’t seem to settle down, flitting from the prog-fusion of Colosseum II to his own heavy metal solo work to sessions with artists as diverse as Andrew Lloyd Webber and Rod Argent.

One theme that ran strong in his expressive guitar playing from the start, though, was his love for the blues.  As a young musician he idolized Peter Green and ended up buying a guitar from Green himself that would become a mainstay of his arsenal.  In 1990, after a career marked by great performances but only a small cult following thanks to his musically restless ways, Moore set about making a pure blues album.

Still Got The Blues was the result, and that superb album -- featuring guest performances from the likes of Albert King, Albert Collins and George Harrison -- set a course for my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Moore that he’s largely kept to since.  Certainly, he’s persisted in experimenting here and there, but since 1990 the bulk of his focus has been on adding to his catalog of blues work.

The immediate question, then, is how much Moore has left to say in the blues context, and the answer doesn’t take long to become apparent here: plenty.  The reason Still Got The Blues and its successors have given the now-approaching-60 guitarist such a solid late-career boost is that his road-worn voice and passionate playing are just so perfectly suited to electric blues.

Bad For You Baby opens strong as the title track sets your foot tapping while Moore puts a little growl into his gritty vocals and carves the sky with the rather Jimmy Page main riff.  It’s over inside of three minutes and you’re still gasping for breath when Moore and company dive into the driving ”Down The Line,” which sounds a little like B.B. King and Johnny Cash on speed.

There are plenty more thumping blues-rockers here -- “Umbrella Man” and “Mojo Boogie” being prime examples -- but perhaps even better are the ballads, where Moore is able to wrap his increasingly gravelly voice around the melodies a little more and stretch out his dynamic solos.  His slow, spacious, totally committed cover if Al Kooper’s “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know” is especially revelatory, his voice and guitar dueling gracefully for supremacy over the course of a song that clears 10 minutes without dragging for a moment.  “Holding On” and “Trouble Ain’t Far Behind” in particular are pretty sweet stuff too.

Even a couple of fairly rote numbers -- hasn’t Moore already recorded two or three songs with the exact cadence and rhythm pattern of both “Walkin’ Thru The Park” and “Someday Baby”? -- come out winners because Moore just sounds so damn good playing and singing them.  The rough edges his voice has increasingly taken on in his fifties make him sound like he was literally born to sing the blues, and his playing has never been more powerful or expressive.

It’s unfortunate that Moore -- whose work is well-respected in Europe -- isn’t better known stateside.  I can’t necessarily recommend his ‘80s metal material, but his ‘70s work with Thin Lizzy and his blues albums since 1990 have been pretty consistently outstanding.  Bad For You Baby continues that string.

Rating: A-

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© 2008 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Eagle, and is used for informational purposes only.