Reviving the flame of British blues

By Sergio Ariza

Gary Moore was destined to make a record like Still Got the Blues, not for nothing was he one of tons of lads who decided to pick up a Les Paul after hearing Eric Clapton play with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers and he has mentioned that All Your Love was the song that changed his life. But besides that, Moore was the owner of one of the most legendary guitars of British blues history: Greenie, the Les Paul that Peter Green made Fleetwood Mac a legend with. 

In addition, the ex-guitarist of Thin Lizzy got tired of the pyrotechnique competition that had transformed hard rock in the 80s, which was more concerned with speed than feeling, so he decided to return to his roots and record a blues album that connected him to his idols from the 60s. To embellish the deal he opted to contract a wind section along the lines of the classic records of the kings, B.B. and Albert King, and if that wasn’t enough, he got the second King, and the great Albert Collins as guests.   

The idea for the record came in the spring of ‘89, on tour promoting After the War, when he was rehearsing songs from a Clapton/Bluesbreakers album and his trusted bass player Bob Daisley suggested, “ Why don’t we make a blues record?”. Moore didn’t hesitate and began recording what in the end would be the most important record of his career, Still Got the Blues.

The record was useful for paying tribute to some of his guitar heroes like Clapton or Green, despite playing Greenie on only 2 of the album's songs, Midnight Blues, and Stop Messin’ Around, (a version of Fleetwood Mac), his main guitar on most of the record was a Les Paul Standard from ‘59 that he had just bought. There are also tributes to Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, and Stevie Ray Vaughan on Texas Strut, where he plays a ‘61 salmon-pink Stratocaster, or the the biggest tribute to Albert King in King of the Blues, one of 4 originals on the album. The author of Born Under a Bad Sign also appears on the record but isn’t in top possible form on Oh Pretty Woman, a song he wrote, and it cannot be said that Moore betters the original. Of course only a few can do such a thing to a man they call the “King of blues”. 

Where he is outstanding is on Walking by Myself, a tune by Jimmy Rogers  ( who played with Muddy Waters for some years) which became one of his most popular songs, or Too Tired, his duet with Albert Collins, great moments that go to prove he’s more than a worthy keeper of great British blues tradition. 

(Images: ©Cordon Press)