MCA 1978 / UMC 2013
Breaking bad: a cynical yet arrestingly enigmatic solo debut from the late great Irishman.
A public darling since he glossed up the blues and a sharp shredded before that, there was much more to Gary Moore than meets the eye on any of the guitarist’s albums – bar the first one under his own name as opposed to 1973’s “Grinding Stone” which was credited to THE GARY MOORE BAND. Between the two records lay spells with Jon Hiseman‘s COLOSSEUM II and THIN LIZZY, and “Back On The Streets,” featuring members of both groups, is a reflection of both sides of Moore, equally adept in delivering progressive jazz rock and heavy chops. Yet more than anything it’s a reflection of Gary’s conflicted personality and a turmoil of his homeland.
Blistering and belligerent on most of the tracks, he conveys a footloose feel in the instrumental pieces but is warm with the vocal passages shared by the main man with Phil Lynott whose hit “Don’t Believe A Word” Moore slows down only to heighten its scornful message and plant Peter Green’s ghost in its twangy solo, while a Belfast gloom falls all over “Fanatical Fascists” flying high on the sneery factor which mixes glam tropes with genuine anger. As unromantic as it gets, on the infectious title cut Gary rolls free ‘n’ easy in the speedy slipstream of six strings that are so exquisite in the initially acoustic reverie of “Flight Of The Snow Moose” wherein Don Airey’s organ pours classical weight until the guitar meanders into an epic fusion and then into “Hurricane” that’s propelled with John Mole’s supple bass and Simon Phillips’ expansive drumming – deliciously funky in a riff-laden “What Would You Rather Bee Or A Wasp,” a perfect meld of all the styles on Moore’s palette.
But if pellucid “Song For Donna” seems a rather by-the-rulebook attempt at writing a love letter, the unexpected grand finale to this deceptively dry album is the ultimate lyrical ballad, “Parisienne Walkways”: the original version of this most famous song of Gary’s reveals a wonderful texture, with Moore’s mandolin-like filigree over Lynott’s soft double-bass. The same foreigner longing permeates another delicate, intricate piece, “Spanish Guitar” – a bonus track, together with a gloriously jazzy B-side “Track Nine” – all three, distinctively different takes on it with, alternately, voices by Phil, Gary and his fantastic, flamenco-tinctured instrument. No other Gary Moore album can challenge his debut for diversity, and it’s a pity he never again would be so street-wise as he’s here.