Chrysalis 1981 & 1983 / Cherry Red 2016
Circumstance and pomp: prog titan’s brief attempt at a solo career, with Gary Moore leading the charge of the heavy brigade.
No matter how harsh the crash-landing of ELP was, the down-to-earth slant of “Love Beach” must have prepared Greg Lake for his next move. He started out on a personal field in LA with the members of TOTO – as bonuses, their breezy take on “You Really Got A Hold On Me” feeding its soulfulness into the lucid “Cold Side Of A Woman,” previously available only on rarities collections, give context to these two CDs – but it took the chance of augmenting Dylan’s skeletal “Love You Too Much” that set Lake on a new course. The song required a guitar solo which Greg couldn’t deliver himself, and his manager suggested Gary Moore as the man for the job, with the finished result a triumph in composing and performing terms and also a launching pad for the fruitful collaboration between the artists.
It might blossom in full on 1983’s “Manoeuvres” where the epic “It’s You, You Gotta Believe” (shifted on this reissue to the end of the album, ostensibly for greater effect) saw the return of Greg’s former band’s bombast, yet the sharpness that Gary had brought to the table cuts through the period production on “Nuclear Attack” which opens Lake’s eponymous debut, out in 1981. The piece’s fierce riff is a perfect vehicle for his vocal assault, although the reveal of both musicians’ tender underbelly in “I Don’t Know Why I Still Love You” is just as arresting. So while a pop-rock bounce of “Retribution Drive” could be one of the factors for the ex-Crimsonite’s short stint with ASIA, the romantic anguish of “It Hurts” balances on the thin line between heaviness and acoustic grace. But if “A Woman Like You” finds Lake and Moore try on Barry Gibb kind of balladry, there are Tommy Eyre’s keyboards to carry “Slave To Love” to the sunset transparency.
Flying and falling in “The Lie” – possibly the epitome of heartbreak, the main theme of both albums – and sending the Ted McKenna-Tristian Margetts rhythm section to the front to propel “Paralysed” towards funk end, the band shine throughout, even on the less compelling songs, like “Hold Now,” a light, flamenco-tinctured outtake. Ultimately, the Scottish march of “For Those Who Dare” should be a final verdict for Lake’s solo venture, as it was a genuine liberation for Greg.