Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Stumbling Upon the Vinyl Archive. 4. Rock.

Amongst the Vinyl albums that I discovered last week at the back of the attic, it was inevitable that I would find some by the late Irish guitarist Gary Moore. His 2nd solo album, "Back on the Streets" is a curious one, while I love the album it must have perplexed many a listener who bought it on the basis of hearing its major hit single Parisienne Walkways. Not that it has much heavy-rock on it, (Moore would get into that a few years later), rather the thing which probably bemused the unaware were the fusion or jazz-rock efforts which make up half the album. While the ballady/rock material on this album has a lot of Thin Lizzy personnel making up the band, the other material features a different range of players and is worth hearing for the drumming of Simon Philips, alone. Listening again after over thirty years, it is rockers like Fanatical Fascists that have dated badly and sound trite, while the pace, attack and fluidity of fusiony pieces like Hurricane still inspire. The drumming on What would you rather bee or a wasp, is sublime.

By the early 1980s, Gary Moore had embraced the hard-rock sound found on albums like Corridors of Power, and the heavy-rock of Dirty Fingers or After the War. Dirty Fingers was probably Moore's heaviest album, and was recorded during the boom of the so-called New Wave of British Heavy Metal. A dispute with Jet Records delayed official publication of the album for many years, which was a shame, as it stands as one of Moore's finer studio efforts from the rock years, with more to offer than many more commercially successful albums like Victims of the Future. After the War was Gary Moore's last album before he abandoned heavy-rock for blues.

Throughout the After the War album Moore sounds as uninspired as he looked bored on every photo-shoot in the publicity material for the stuff. Subsequent interviews for the Still Got the Blues album reveal just how musically frustrated he was with the heavy-rock format at that time. He put on a good show on the tour that year, showcasing the new stuff, despite the fact that during that it was apparently during this tour that bassist Bob Daisley told him, "You should make a blues album." The reason for Daisley's comment was apparently that while they put on rock-shows, it was Blues that Moore played in the dressing, room, in the hotel, on the tour bus and everywhere else they went. Thank goodness that Moore took Daisley's advice (although ironically of course, hiring a new bassist to record it), as by 1990, the rock-format was beginning to bore me too.

While I had remembered the Gary Moore albums lurking in the back of the attic, I hadn't remembered this Bryan Adams offering at all! Cuts Like a Knife, turns out to be a neat little rock album with some great songs like This Time on it - something I remember him playing one Friday night on Channel 4s controversial music show, The Tube. I think I am right in recalling that he was introduced by an impossibly young-looking Muriel Grey as "cuddly-Brian", before giving the stage over to one of UFO's least convincing line-ups. Adams is one of those musicians whose career seems to have been completely blighted by one massively successful song - a movie sound-track number to Kevin Costner's excruciating Prince of Theives.Had Adams not made is millions with that dreadful ballad, he would be remembered for songs like Summer of 69, Run to You, Cuts Like a Knife, This Time and some very thoughtful writing on the Into the Fire album. In the 80s (pre-Robin Hood disaster), I saw Adams on one of his UK tours, in a packed Wembley Arena. He put on a good quality performance too, with a well-rehearsed, tight band. If only he'd said no to Costner, he'd have his reputation as healthy as his bank balance later became!

And then finally, in all honesty a bit of a turkey! I picked this album up after seeing this dodgy-looking 80s rock-outfit supporting Gary Moore at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1987. They put on an OK warm-up show on Moore's Wild Frontier tour, but the album isn't much to write home about. Their hard-rock cover of Cliff Richard's Devil Woman, is, in retrospect actually quite funny. Still, memories, memories....!

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