Moore of the modern side

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 August, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 August, 1997, 12:00am

Gary Moore has never felt more like singing the blues. And rock. And funk. With a bit of jazz fusion thrown in.

Belfast's biggest guitar legend has been there, done it, gone the extra mile, and sold out the gig.

And with his latest album he finds even more pastures new through which to wander, combining an entire catalogue of styles with a lifetime's worth of influences.

That Dark Days in Paradise is so eclectic should come as no surprise: Moore can boast the scars of stints with both rockers Thin Lizzy and melodic, meandering, experimental 70s outfit Coliseum II.

So did the latest offering, a sprawling magnum opus reflecting the odd identity crisis, stem from a raid on the Moore musical attic? 'Yes, it's a collection of all the influences I've had over the years and all the styles I've played in - plus a few new ones,' he reveals.

'I wanted to get back to writing melodic songs. There is a thread insomuch as it's obviously the same singer and guitarist all the way through - but there the resemblance ends.' Moore as Renaissance man may not be an easy concept to grasp for those who see him merely as a pedlar of heavy blues-rock.

But if there is one thing the maestro isn't concerned with, it's standing still. 'I'm not interested in the past. Whatever you've done, you've done. Why do it again? 'In the 90s I think music is great again,' he adds enthusiastically. 'It's the best it's been for about 20 years.

'The 80s was not a very good time for music at all. It certainly wasn't something I felt comfortable with.

'A lot of the music at that time, to me, was designed for one purpose only - to make money. I hated that whole thing. At the end of the 80s I reacted by making blues albums because they were so far removed from what was going on at that time.' Now it's a different story.

'I feel totally rejuvenated musically. I definitely wasn't short of ideas for this album, and I allowed myself time and space to experiment and do exactly what I wanted to.' Equally at home acknowledging his roots and embracing the young turks of the latest music scene, Moore seems almost awestruck by current trends.

'Now there are so many great things around, so many great influences to draw on. There's a lot of energy there. Many of the young bands have lost their fear and they're starting to experiment again,' he says.

'It's a lot closer in spirit to the 60s than it has been for a long time, and I can hear that even in the dance music.

'It's that psychedelic thing I used to love when I was growing up, listening to people like Cream and Jimi Hendrix. Maybe it's the chemically assisted format they all operate [in] - but whatever it is I like it.' If Moore does pay homage to old times on the new record, the exercise is a useful one, arming him with the biographical ammunition necessary to produce the outstanding track, the majestic Business as Usual - which comes in at a mere 13.5 minutes.

Its almost Joycean lyric condenses Moore's life: 'I thought as an experiment I would let the memories come out, from the first thing I could remember. And whatever came out that was it. It wasn't going to be changed.' The Phil Lynott-Thin Lizzy connection continues to fascinate Moore-watchers. He had several tours of duty with the band from 1974 to 1979, finally being sacked - and replaced by Midge Ure, of all people.

Lynott, 34, died in 1986, after an eight-day, heroin-induced coma. The year before, Moore and Lynott had buried their differences to record the hit single Out in the Fields. Was Lynott's 'difficult' reputation deserved? 'Sometimes he was difficult - but all musicians can be hard to work with. Phil had a lot of pressures,' says Moore, 'and the worst thing was when Thin Lizzy ended. That was his family, and his whole world fell apart. He was very lonely.' Having played with many greats from the blues world - Albert Collins, B B King, Buddy Guy, Albert King - Moore could retire with an unimpeachable c.v. . . . or sink respectably into filmdom.

'A lot of my music does fit into that kind of thing,' he admits. 'I've done a theme for a film called The Changeling - a surreal, Jacobean tragedy meets Easy Rider - but I wouldn't like to do a whole film score where they dictated to you by the imagery. I don't think I could work like that.' For Moore, the music's the thing - wherever it takes him. 'I don't believe in putting up barriers between styles,' he asserts. 'I love all music and I don't care what kind it is. It's all there to be enjoyed, instead of worrying about whether it's fashionable or cool. Just dig what you listen to - don't worry what people think.' Moore's treasure chest has something for everybody. 'Talent borrows, genius steals,' he says.