Gary MOORE A Different Beat (CD, 2LP). BMG
This fine reissue of the legendary Irish guitarist’s 1999 album took me by surprise, but not as much as the album did on record buying world at the time of original release.
Recording since the early 70s with his band Skid Row, Moore had found fame as a solid and distinctive virtuoso guitarist in the realms of rock and blues rock, including stints with Thin Lizzy, before taking a stronger step into the blues with 1990’s Still Got The Blues.
But in 1997 Moore followed Jeff Beck’s move in a more experimental direction, with Dark Days In Paradise (an album that did what it says on the tin). Then two years later we get A Different Beat. Again, a very apt title; employing the talents of renowned jazz and rock drummer Gary Husband, whose CV includes Billy Cobham, Jack Bruce, Level 42 and Allan Holdsworth, the emphasis is on more dance and alternative rhythms, that are quite forward and in-your-face.
Gary wasn’t known as a trend chaser, maybe this experimental angle just had to be done (he’d return to the blues soon after); whether or not he in or out of favour, he was certainly on form. Listening to the album now, for the first time in a long time, it hasn’t aged badly at all.
On this album Gary manages guitar, vocals, bass and keyboards, and in addition to Moore and Husband are Roger King (keyboards, programming) and Phil Nicholls (programming). Sound quite programmed? Well there is that edge. Opener Go On Home sets the scene perfectly with an abrasive and intense edge, and a rhythm that mixes The Happy Mondays and dance, if played by a heavy metal cyborg. Yet on top of that you have Moore’s fiery bluesy guitar and distinctive vocals. Strangely it does work, but it’s far from the accepted mainstream. The theme follows, with tracks like Lost In Your Love having a melodic drum’n’bass feel. Don’t let detract from the guitar, which always stands out.
There’s a cover of Fire by Jimi hendrix, and in stark contrast, the 9 minute Surrender is much slower, more gentle, and even a hint of ambient. One track, Can’t Help Myself, is repeated, being given a remix, the 12 minutes including a hidden track.
Wonderful though this album is, it is rather off the wall, and a WTF moment for anyone expecting Black Rose, Corridors Of Power or Still Got The Blues. Well worth checking out though.
This reissue comes in a lovely gatefold card sleeve, with booklet and additional sleevenotes. And look out for the even more wonderful 2LP (it was not originally released on vinyl), gatefold sleeve and orange vinyl, a fine package indeed.
Despite the lack of extras, well done BMG. But we need more, as Gary Moore’s catalogue is crying out for an extended and coordinated reissue campaign. Long overdue.
Joe Geesin | Now Spinning Magazine