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Gary Moore is alive and well in Montreux.

Music Review: Gary Moore – Essential Montreux

If you like Gary Moore, the blues, and live albums then this five CD box set is for you.

The career of Gary Moore has now spanned four decades. He has been part of such groups as Thin Lizzy, Colosseum II, and BBM with Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce but it has been his solo work as a blues/rock fusion artist that has brought him the greatest acclaim. He remains one of the best guitarists alive today and has built up a formidable catalogue of close to forty albums.

An important part of his ongoing legacy has been his performances at The Montreux Jazz Festival. Eagle Rock Entertainment has now gathered his five appearances and released them in one spectacular box set titled Essential Montreux.

Disc one reaches back to 1990. He had just released his classic Still Got The Blues album and it forms the foundation for his twelve song set. He also mixes in some old blues tunes and his guitar work on Peter Green’s “Stop Messin’ Around” and Otis Rush’s “All Your Love” is inspired. A highlight is the guest appearance by legend Albert Collins on “Cold Cold Feeling.”

It would be five years before he returned to Montreux. Disc two presents his entire July 16, 1995 performance of fourteen tunes. The highlights are again a couple of Peter Green compositions from the first Fleetwood Mac album. “Long Grey Mare” and “Merry-Go-Round” both are modernized through his unique blues/rock fusion style.

He made a quick return to Montreux during the summer of 1997. Six of the eleven tracks are live versions of material just released on his Dark Days In Paradise album. This was a polished performance as he brought along his regular band which included a keyboard player which gave the music a fuller sound. A terrific version of “Over The Hills” is presented which combines Irish music and Celtic mythology and is a fitting tribute to old friend Phil Lynott.

His 1999 performance is presented on disc four and here he returns to some basic blues. He still has a keyboard player on board but now he uses it as a counterpoint for some tasty improvisation. His take of Little Willie John’s “Need Your Love So Bad” lives up to the original. He also proves that he is a formidable songwriter himself as his “Still Got The Blues” is played in all its pulsating glory. His final song is an almost jazz rendition of Phil Lynott’s “Parisienne Walkways” which is a direction he may need to explore more often.

His Montreux saga concludes with his 2001 set. He had just released Back To The Blues and such songs as T. Bone Walker’s “Stormy Monday” and B.B. King’s “You Upset Me Baby” form part of his set. His cover of Jimi Hendrix’ “Fire” is a rare performance that comes close to the original.

Gary Moore is above all a consummate guitar player and Essential Montreux finds him at his creative best. There is over six hours of music and it just flies by which is the best testament to his talent.


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