Gary Moore The Sanctuary Years 1999-2004 (4CD + Blu-Ray)

Gary MOORE : The Sanctuary Years 1999-2004 (4CD + Blu-Ray) BMG

Between 1999 and 2004 guitar virtuoso Gary Moore recorded 4 albums for the Sanctuary label, and they are collected together here (the box kinda does what it says on the tin), and it saw Moore continuing his late 90s experimental edge before moving back to the blues. The four albums, A Different Beat, Back To The Blues, Scars and The Power Of The Blues, are four fantastic albums that, regardless of style, see some wonderful guitar. They are also a much overlooked part of the late Irish master’s catalogue.

The set kicks off with 1999’s A Different Beat, an album that is exactly that. Like its predecessor, and with a nod to or from what Jeff Beck was doing at the time, it’s experimental, with programming and trance influences. The sound, much like Moore’s guitar, is fluid and fantastic. Sublime throughout. It also raises the first issue with this set which is timing; this album was released individually fairly recently, and although it accompanied by its first appearance on vinyl, fans will feel like they’re being forced to buy it again. Whether there or here, it is well worth having though.

The second disc is 2001’s Back To The Blues, where Gary does just that. His early 90s blues recamping move was so well received and rightly so, and there’s a strong move to recapture that. With a band that features Primal Scream drummer Darren Mooney, and a brass section, it’s a solid album. Opener Enough Of The Blues has a good punch, a bit of an edge, and there’s a good cover of Stormy Monday.

A warm blues rock album that’s at times catchy, and a brass section that take some songs into a lounge blues direction. But no matter how good it is, and how punchy some of the songs are, it lacks some of the freshness and punch of the blues albums 10 years earlier. There are three bonus tracks, and a bonus disc of a 5.1 mix (I’m going to assume this is the same as the mix issued in 2009 on the duel disc issue).

In 2002 Gary Moore formed the band Scars, with Mooney and ex Skunk Anansi bassist Cass Lewis, although the eponymous album was issued under Gary Moore’s moniker. This was a much more hard rock album with a blues edge, akin to the likes of Hendrix and SRV. Some tracks like I Wasn’t Born In Chicago nod to Gary’s more experimental side too. That track’s a bit off the wall and while it does have a good groove I’m note sure how well it fits in .

In 2003 Gary Moore / Scars recorded and released the Live At The Monsters Of Rock album, issued on Sanctuary, but not included here.

2004 saw Moore, still with drummer Mooney, team up with keyboard player Jim Watson and bassist Bob Daisley to record The Power Of The Blue. Another wonderful album much in the Back To The Blues vein, and a couple of decent covers (Howlin’ Wolf, Otis Rush). Definitely an essential part of the collection.

Now to the package. This all comes in the same size box as the Black Sabbath sets have done, and the four individual albums come in gatefold card LP replica sleeves (a little sturdier than usual), each with a booklet with sleevenotes (a little short on pictures). The Blu Ray of the 5.1 mix (with bonus interviews) comes in a digipak, and there is a mini poster, postcard, concert ticket replica and an A5 sicker sheet. All very nice, there is genuinely lots to love here. Sadly, however, only 1 of the albums comes with bonus tracks, only 1 of the albums comes in the 5.1 mix, and the absence of the Sanctuary released live set does take the edge off of the title.

Beginning to end fantastic music, lots to love about the pack, but an equal number of mussed opportunities.

Joe Geesin | Now Spinning Magazine

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