Gary Moore - Victims of the Future (1983)
Submitted by Dinosaur David B on Thu, 05/29/2008 - 22:36
Gary Moore wasn't always the weenie bluesman he is today; recycling the same, tired old blues licks album after album. He wasn't always floundering through bizarre pop directions (see Dark Days in Paradise, and A Different Beat). He wasn't always doing a Clapton/Peter Green trip (see After Hours, BBM, Blues For Greeny) Nope. Back in the 80s, when excess was IN, Gary Moore was quite content to be himself, and indulge in being a rock/metal Guitar Hero. And for a good ten years there, he was the baddest motherfucker around. Period. If you lived through the 80s as a rock guitar player, you knew this (didn't you?). While the non-musician public thought Van Halen was the be-all end-all, and guitarists were having Yngwie rammed down our throats, Gary Moore was the guitar player's guitarist. I often go back and read old issues of Guitar Player, Guitar World, Guitar for the Practicing Musician, etc. from the 80s. In those old interviews, it was Gary's name that was most frequently mentioned by all the popular players of the day (both young and old) as a guy they listened to and admired.
Moore's playing at this time combined everything you could possibly ever want or ask for from a guitar hero. It had fire, passion, intensity, emotion, great gobs of attitude, melody, and a wide array of dynamics from bombastic to subtle. Whether he was using a stock Strat or a stock Les Paul — he was equally at home on both — Moore had tone you'd kill for: It was primarily a pure guitar wood + Marshall tone — not buzzy or gainy but smooth and thick (heavy gage strings helped). It wasn't an over produced sound either. You can hear the pick attack on the strings. Gary said that he liked the guitar sound to be "just on the verge of being out of control." That's a very good description of it. His guitar sound form this era literally SCREAMS.
As a player, he was blazingly fast, but unlike a lot of shredders, he'd usually set up the speed with slow melodic playing, and always made sure the speed said something. He wasn't a particularly schooled player — certainly not a theory guy, but what Moore's playing always had was tons of feel behind it. On his studio albums, his solos were composed stories within the song, and typically start slow and build to a crescendo. On live albums, he would stretch out the solo's original thematic ideas and play some of the most amazing shit you've ever heard — and he never seemed to run out of ideas. His style was a combination of Jeff Beck-on-speed, plus a dash of Peter Green, but mostly it was his own. Gary Moore trademarks included palm-muted flurries on the low strings, huge, screaming bends, rapid-fire open-string pull-offs, fast, repetitive, major-7th arpeggios moved chromatically that can sound like tapping — but are not, and assorted whammy bar effects. Most important to his style, I feel, was the pure BALLS and kick-ass attitude that came through in his phrasing. He would go rude with heavy handed bends and pinched harmonics, or he could go subtle with delicate playing volume swells and soaring melodies.
Moore was at home in any style of music. He honed his rock style through his years with Thin Lizzy. He developed amazing speed playing chops-intensive fusion with Colosseum II. As a solo artist, he wrote pop songs to complement the heavy rockers. He became a decent singer. When he made his initial jump to blues, his playing had all the fire and intensity his rock playing was known for at the time. Sadly, Gary the rocker got tamer with each subsequent effort. I listen to him now and hear none of the player he was in the era of this album.
But enough of that. We're going to go back to when Gary Moore was to my ears, the best guitar player on the planet. It's 1983 and after a few years of false starts, Gary has finally got his solo band on track. Despite his best efforts to hook up with a lead singer he could get some millage out of, no one stuck and Moore decided that he had to bite the bullet and front the band himself. His 1982 album Corridors of Power was a stunning release with a nice balance of power-pop and heavy rock songs. It contains the best heavy stock Strat tone I've ever heard. Corridors did well for Gary Moore. He was becoming a superstar in Europe and Japan, but outside of guitarists, he remained totally unknown in the clueless United States. In 83, the musical direction of the day was getting more metal. And while Corridors certainly had its metal moments, Gary decided that his follow up to Corridors would be heavier, and angrier. This album, called Victims of the Future, represents Gary at his rock/metal guitar hero peak. The songs here are mostly good 'n heavy, and the guitar playing is positively staggering. Enjoy.
Track By Track (vocal cues in parentheses)
Victims Of The Future (6:09) The title track begins with a melodic electric lead line over an acoustic, arpeggiated chord progression with a minor scale feel. This intro part is accompanied by a keyboard generated string part. Nice, low soulful vocal from Moore. The intro fades and the song explodes into heavy metal thunder. A heavy chugging power chord riff over a pedaled bass root note and a heavy straight beat. Gary sets up a call-and-response thing between the low riff and a quick, unison bend accent up high. The main riff has a chromatic turnaround figure. First verse begins and Gary is singing in a higher register. Verse part one (Caught in the fight for survival) is a tension building riff — a slightly muted ascending pattern based on the main riff. Verse part two (Our world is headed for destruction) raises the tension more with a power chord climb and decent progression. By the end of the part Gary's singing at the top of his range, and for better or worse, really pushing the hell out of his voice. A different turnaround leads into the chorus (Shadows of the past, Victims of the future) — a power chord part with different rhythmic feel and another chromatic turnaround. There's a harmony vocal from Neil Carter. The main call-and-response figure returns and leads back to verse two. Carter continues the vocal harmonies (Is there no end to all this madness) Chorus returns and repeats longer and leads into the solo section. Gary begins the solo with some melodic but ballsy phrasing. He's using his 55 Les Paul Jr. and his tone is thick and has plenty of gain, but is woody — not buzzy. He's never afraid to play slow. He plays a melodic ascending run and comes out of it with a faster series of descending legato pull-offs. A repetitive Moore trademark flash lick follows and is expanded upon. He ends the solo with a beautiful, long, ascending climb, ending on a frantic note that is enhanced by some delay. Song returns to the chorus part, then the main riff. Great outro solo. It's mostly pure attitude, with huge bends, pinched harmonics, flash licks, and double stops. Song fades out.
Teenage Idol (4:15) In the 80s, Gary had a penchant for fast, frantic, songs like this one. The lyrics of these songs were invariably clichéd, and that's the case here too. I never cared much for these offerings from Gary, but the guitar parts were always hot and certainly had their moments. Song begins with a single note blues riff. The guitar part drops out and the vocal is over just a drum backbeat. Fairly monotonic vocal delivery creating a call-and-response with the guitar riff. Simple two chord chorus part (but when he heard that music on the radio . . .) Verse and chorus repeat. Bridge (he's a teenage idol, he knows how to rock and roll) has a major scale feel to it and some simple vocal harmonies. Gary starts throwing in some guitar fills: A Chuck Berry-on-steroids lick, a simulated car horn, a purposely clichéd flash lick (he bought himself a hot guitar). Chorus repeats. Solo section follows the call-and response formula again: a lick, then the riff, another lick, then the riff. This solo is actually Gary poking fun at being a guitar hero. He's using clichéd licks on purpose, but he really rips on it nonetheless. (1) A Moore trademark blues lick, played fast then moved down a half step, then back up. Screeching double stop. (2) A series of fast Beck-style pull-offs finished with a hammered trill. (3) A totally rude attitude phrase with a pinched harmonic and long bend into the song's theme lick. (4) The old 80s staple, bullshit lick — creating cascading harmonics with open string pull-offs and a long partially muted right-hand slide toward the headstock. Yep, I still pull that one out every once in a while when I'm out of ideas. What fun! Chorus repeats. Main part repeats. Yada yada.
Devil In Her Heart (3:24) (song appears on U.S. release only) This is one of my favorite Gary Moore songs. It's heavy as hell, and built around a two-note 4th riff ala Ritchie Blackmore. The song starts off at full power with a snare crack, and the main riff over a galloping rhythm. A quick nod to the impending chorus leads into verse part one. A heavily palm-muted chugging rhythm. Gary's singing pretty hard and high on this one. Verse part two — or is it chorus part one? (She's coming out to get you) breaks the underlying chug rhythm with a stop-start feel. This raises the tension that ultimately gets released in the chorus — which we find out now IS the main riff. (She's got the Devil in her heart) Verse and chorus repeat leading into a multi-part solo over Whole Lotta Love-style breaks in the song. (1) Some choppy and beefy open-string pull-offs. Lots of attitude. (2) Some very fast and flashy pull-offs that hark back to Beck's Jeff's Boogie. (3) A high register call-and-response pattern featuring bends. (4) a fast repetitive lick that launches the solo into another, longer part featuring blues bends, an attitude-packed descending run with pinched harmonics, and a blistering, muted climb up to a crescendo note. Awesome stuff! Chorus repeats. Gary's really wailing on the vocals from here to the finish, using falsetto on the last bits. As the song ends he grinds the screaming guitar to a halt with a ballsy whammy dive.
Empty Rooms (6:34) The song Gary just wouldn't leave alone. This is the first time it appeared on one of his albums, but he would later rearrange and re-record a bit differently. It also appeared on all of his live albums of the period. A slow, sad ballad. Begins with piano and a minor feel. Drums and bass enter followed by vocals. Guitar finally appears with a quick little melodic phrase in verse two, but the song doesn't really feature guitar as a foundation, just as accompaniment. Song continues building slowly and methodically. Takes two minutes to get to the first chorus (Empty rooms, where we learn to live without love). There's a brief acoustic guitar solo over just keys after the first chorus — sound's like it was recorded under water. Not flashy, just a simple melodic theme. When it finishes, a fretless bass guitar plays essentially the same solo. Drums come back in and the electric guitar solo comes in. The solo is a masterpiece of slow melodic blues playing that is full of emotion. A contrast to most of the guitar pyrotechnics on this album.
All I Want (4:07) If memory serves, this was the track that didn't make it to the original U.S. vinyl release. A stomper with a Zeppelinish feel, based on an open E lick, power chords, and simple turnarounds. Painfully clichéd lyrics again. Second time through, Gary starts adding some ska feel on the upbeats. After the second chorus, the bridge breaks the song down into a descending layover pattern which quickens the pace. Solo section finds Gary playing with bends and harmonics — you can hear his intonation, some finger vibrato and some more from the bar. He then takes off into a frantic climb up the neck. Chorus repeats. Verse part repeats. They use the descending layover for the foundation of the outro and a Gary takes a mid-tempo outro solo that unlike the rest of the solos on this album, feels improvised.
Shapes Of Things (4:10) This is Gary paying homage to his guitar hero, Jeff Beck, with the old Yardbirds/Jeff Beck Group song. Gary frequently did cover songs and he always did a good job of making those songs his own. Shapes is strongest one he ever did. This track positively rips! The song follows the original structure pretty closely but it's heavier. The guitar sound is flat-out, and Gary's letting it sustain and wail, using pick scrapes for emphasis. The solo section is a masterpiece in separate segments: Part one is a nod to the song's melody and the original Beck solo on Truth. Soaring melody up high followed by dramatic string bends down low, into a descending, muted pedal point lick that slowly grinds the solo down into part two: another melody created with series of rapid hammer-ons on open B, and a staccato phrase that descends then ascends. Fast repetitive blues licks into a screaming series of melodic bends at the very top of the fretboard. As the next section starts, the drums and bass play just accents to get out of the way for some pure Gary pyrotechnics. A fast and furious low-to-high muted run. A blazing repetitive blues lick into a melodic bend. Another trademark lightning lick up high into another screaming bend, and a long, melodic climb from low to high again. Subtle slide guitar part over arpeggiated triads finish it off and lead back to the verse/chorus. Screaming vocals at the end too. This track is Gary at his Dinosaur Rock best. In the live setting Gary would use this song to stretch out and play a very long, jaw-dropping extended solo (see We Want Moore). (Hear it!)
Murder in the Skies (5:48) One of Gary's best metal songs. This one finds Gary in an angry mood at the Russians for shooting down the Korean Airlines flight, and killing several hundred innocent civilians. Another galloping beat with a a heavy, chugging chord progression. Thick, meaty, unison bends create a foreboding melody over the main riff. Lots of flash fills on this track: whammy dives, pick scrapes. Verse part one (Time was running out for all on board) is a dark-feeling, ringing power chord progression. Verse part two (the Russians have shot down a plane on its way to Korea) moves higher up the neck raising the tension so it can release in the chorus (Murder in the skies, came without a warning). Carter lends a harmony vocal on the chorus. Song returns to the main theme with the unison bends again. Verse and chorus repeat. A great solo section begins with some bends, a quick legato hammer-on sequence and some choppy blues scale triplets. He follows that with the trademark chromatically moving Major 7th arpeggios (muted) and comes out into some screaming call-and-response bends, and a flash lick into a screaming set of crescendo notes to finish. Chorus follows solo. Main riff is used for the outro. On the outro solo, Gary expands upon the unison bend idea and simulates a plane going down with whammy bar effects. Song fades out. Note: On the European version of this CD, the outro pyrotechnics are left loud as the rest of the song fades. Also, on the European version of Murder in the Skies, a freestyle solo similar to End of the World and White Knuckles precedes the song. (Hear it!)
Hold On To Love (4:25) Moore lightens the mood here slightly with a pop offering. Another minor scale feel. Heavy synth and a driving beat, the song has that 80s Journey feel to it. Nice, tasty solo, big on melody vibrato and tone rather than flash. Outro solo is back in the mix under the vocal. Nice song that feels strangely out-of-place on this album.
The Law Of The Jungle (6:13) A mid-tempo, pulsating heavy metal track with a jungle feel to it. I think Ozzy was supposed to guest on the vocals, but he never got to do it, so Gary's doing his best Ozzy sneer on the delivery. The main figure is a root-to-octave progression. Minor arpeggios add interest under the verses. The choruses have a slight eastern feel to them. The guitar solo is another real winner. A series of climbing unison bends sets up a theme Gary returns to after a minor descending phrase. The second set of unison bends flow into an eastern-flavored climb, where Gary stabs a high note, applies an exquisite finger vibrato, then falls out into some attitude-packed blues licks, a muted, pedal tone climb, and a deliciously rude phrase featuring a squawky series of notes. Screaming bends and fast flashy licks follow, and the solo finishes melodically by blending into the chorus part. Great, great solo.
On Victims everything came together in one shining Dinosaur Rock moment. Gary's rock albums that followed Victims went back to the less heavy, more balanced song-oriented approach, and Gary put more emphasis on improving his singing and songwriting — and he succeeded in that. But his lead playing on studio albums was never quite as strong again as it was on Victims of the Future. His playing here was as incendiary as it would ever get, and many of the songs on Victims are Gary Moore classics. The guy you hear on this album is the guy I grew up idolizing as a guitar player. Unfortunately, I can't find a trace of THIS Gary Moore on anything he's recorded since 1990's Still Got The Blues.
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By Dinosaur David B. Copyright ©2001 All rights reserved.
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