Blues guitarists seem to come about a dime a dozen these days, and by saying that I'm even talking about the really good ones. Seems for every Kenny Wayne Shepherd you've got here, there's another Jonny Lang over there. That said, it's still good to see guys like Lang, Shepherd, and Gary Moore out there doing their thing to keep the blues alive and well.
Gary Moore is one of those guitarists who has always seemed to be on the second tier. He's made some great records over the years, both by himself and with the likes of bands like Thin Lizzy and the proggier jazz-rock fusion outfit Colosseum II. But he's just never quite been able to break through to that next level of someone like a Clapton or a Jeff Beck.
Which probably suits Gary Moore just fine, as this allows him the freedom to explore his obvious love of the blues on records like Close As You Get. This album opens with a blast of fuzzed-out guitar and sets the tone from it's opening lines "If the Devil made whiskey, then he must have made my woman too." From there, it's on to the slower blues of "Trouble At Home" where Moore gets to show off his axe-slinging prowess via some very tasty guitar work, echoing the work of his mentor and friend Peter Green during his days with Fleetwood Mac.
In addition to the originals here, Moore also does a fine job covering the work of masters such as Chuck Berry ("Thirty Days") and Sonny Boy Williamson ("Eyesight To The Blind"). There's really nothing too terribly fancy here, just an album full of the sort of gritty blues and hard rock riffs that, come to think of it, actually aren't all that common anymore in today's music.
Moore had a minor hit back in the nineties with Still Got The Blues, whose title track got a fair amount of airplay on Adult Alternative and so-called "Americana" stations. Likewise, there are plenty of candidates for airplay here, from rockers like the aforementioned "If The Devil Made Whiskey" and "Hard Times," to bluesier tracks like "Have You Heard."
What is most obvious here is Moore's sheer love of the blues which shines through pretty much every single note played on Close As You Get. The common thread here being just some damn fine guitar playing.
I like this record a lot. With the way style is favored over substance in much of the music you hear these days, it's nice to be able to chomp on something where the meat is favored over the cheese.