MGF Reviews Gary Moore – Essential Montreux

Gary Moore – Essential Montreux [5-CD set]
101 Distribution (6/16/09)
Rock / Blues

Rock and blues are a perfect combination, and Gary Moore is one of the few guitar players who can put these styles of music together so well. Essential Montreux is a five-disc box set taken from several performances which took place from 1990 to 2001—all from Switzerland’s annual Montreux Jazz Festival. The sound quality is fantastic and the energy level is powerful, spanning six-plus hours of music.

Originally a member of the Dublin-based ’60s blues-rock band Skid Row (not to be confused with the ’80s metal band of the same name), and later performing a couple stints with Thin Lizzy, Moore went on to play in a fusion band named Colosseum II, before his solo career really took off in the ’80s. Modeling his playing after axemen like John Mayall and Jimi Hendrix, he cites friend and mentor Peter Green from Fleetwood Mac as one of his biggest influences.

The first disc contains a handful of songs with blues great Albert Collins, including “Further On Up the Road”, “Cold Cold Feeling” and “The Messiah Will Come Again”. They trade licks and vocal lines, sometimes matching their solos note for note. Peter Green’s “Stop Messin’ Around” and Otis Rush’s “All Your Love” are also covered and done very well. Of the fourteen tracks on disc two, Moore again grabs a couple Peter Green tunes off Fleetwood Mac’s first album, including the blues/rock-fusion inspired “Merry-Go-Round” and “Long Grey Mare”.

Of the material from his third trip to the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1997, Moore took six of the eleven tracks from his then-newly-released album, Dark Days in Paradise, while a wonderful version of “Over the Hills” is played in tribute to Thin Lizzy singer Phil Lynott. The fourth disc features straight-up blues, with a cover of Willie John’s “Need Your Love So Bad”, and another tribute to Phil Lynott, a jazz-touched “Parisienne Walkways”. And the final disc roars with takes on Hendrix’s “Fire”, T-Bone Walker’s “Stormy Monday”, and B.B. King’s “You Upset Me Baby”.

Between the covers and originals, this box set by Gary Moore is excellent, featuring high-energy rock and blues with wicked guitar solos, tight musicianship and and awesome sound production. Listening to it on high-quality headphones, you’ll feel like you’re right there. And for the money (around 30 bucks for six hours of classic material), you just can’t go wrong. Each disc is housed in its own cardboard sleeve with a different picture on it and track-listing on the back. The set also includes a very attractive full-color booklet with lots of useful information and liner notes. You don’t often see or hear such a great package for the money, so do yourself a favor and pick this one up.