Album review: Gary Moore, Wild Frontier (1987)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MAY 8, 1987

By Steve Newton

“What are your favourite bands?” I get asked that a lot, and it’s a tough question. For someone who listens to a lot of different records, favourite bands come and go. But for me, probably the most endearing rock group is Thin Lizzy. And it’s not just because their music was so special.

Sure, the rippling twin-guitar attack was something else, fused as it was to leader Phil Lynott’s no-kiddin’-around vocal attack and poetic, incisive lyrics. But the main reason I love Thin Lizzy so much is that they never really made it big. They never gained a third of the recognition they deserved, and boy, when you think of how some bands have become famous, it’s a sad story. And when Lynott died of heart failure around Christmas of ’85, it made it even sadder.

But wait! There is still a glimmer of hope for those who mourn the passing of Thin Lizzy, and his name is Gary Moore. The man who substituted for Lizzy guitarist Brian Robertson on several tours, and who lent his scintillating axe to the group’s ’79 LP Black Rose, is carrying on the tradition of fierce-but-honest guitar rock that Lynott lived for. Moore’s new album, Wild Frontier, is his best ever, even out-distancing such killer discs as Corridors of Power and Run for Cover.

The opening track, “Over the Hills and Far Away”, is a nod to the traditional Irish music Moore and co-guitarist Scott Gorham dabbled in on Black Rose, while the title track sports one of Moore’s patented hell-bent-for-leather solo blasts and the same charismatic vocalizing as Lynott.

But the album’s real showcase is the six-minute instrumental “The Loner”. Written by Moore and keyboardist Max Middleton, the song is a dazzling display of Moore’s technical savvy and emotional style. It has the same effect as the cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers” that Jeff Beck did on Blow By Blow.

It’s pretty obvious who Moore was thinking about when he recorded “The Loner”, and Wild Frontier in general. In the bottom right-hand corner of the back cover is the album’s dedication: “For Philip”.

 

 

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