Gary Moore fused molten rock to the blues - he roamed from hard rock shredder to full fledged bluesman, but only now do we see the release of a document that shows how completely, how perfectly he embraced and combined both.
Manic Depression features drummer Darrin Mooney and bassist Dave Bronze doing their finest Experience impression - especially the furious display of fills from the former Primal Scream sticksman. His free flowing frenzy is anchored by Bronze, who stays steady, keeping the path clear for the red hot histrionics of Moore and Mooney. This group takes possession of these songs - they're not just covering them, they are taking ownership for the evening.
Gary Moore was known for his guitar playing, but his singing always carried an equal share of the load - when he slows things down for The Wind Cries Mary, his tone, phrasing, and vibrato are all as captivating coming from his mouth as his hands. Soul seeped through every iota of his being - it's almost hard to imagine how the guy got so much spirit coming from both at the same time. You can hear the soul of the American South via his vocals as his guitar gently reminds us of the influence that the chittlin' circuit had on Hendrix's guitar playing, and no greater tribute could be paid. There's a tremendous amount of love, devotion, and respect being applied to these songs.
I Don't Live Today is the crossroads-cum-the sixties. You can almost smell the napalm on the newsprint and wonder if Hendrix didn't dream this one up as he remembered once wearing paratrooper garb. He starts in the blues and ends up in an acid drenched guitar freak out. Moore does his best to recreate the vibe and largely succeeds.
As soon as the first pulsating chords tumble out of his speakers, you can't wait to hear what the Irish wunderkind does with Angel, and he certainly delivers. Balladry was one of Moore's strong points and he milks this one for all it's worth, then when the band starts modulating up towards the stratosphere you just want them to take it higher and higher, and they do. Mindblowingly beautiful.
Now it gets special as M.C. Keith Altham introduces Billy Cox and Mitch Mitchell. Moore stokes the fires with the time tested and approved intro that can only announce an arrival at the Red House. Cox and Moore trade vocal verses, and while the vibe is looser, more relaxed, and casual, this has much more of a bluesy vibe as Billy walks hard on his old Fender bass. Mitchell is as loose as ever, and perhaps only Ginger Baker ever came as close to bringing jazz to the rock as well as Mitch. The solo section here is amazing - Moore slows down, and shows that he's much more than fire and brimstone, he's also deep.
Hey Joe - how many times have I prayed to never hear this played again? Boy, I'm glad that I didn't get my wish. This is transcendent. Cox and Mitchell move this thing from down Mexico way to the Southside of Chicago, down the Mississippi to the Gulf via New Orleans, and Moore chases them every step of the way. They end up together in a state of rock and roll nirvana. Wow. This one is worth the price of the record.
They wrap it up with Voodoo Child (Slight Return) - Moore playfully attacks his wah pedal and takes this intro uptown with John Shaft. Then Mitchell and Cox join in, and together they ride off into the sunset. Of course, it takes almost eleven minutes - you get to hear the drummer bring the big rock, and Moore puts his
pedal to the metal.
Like I said, probably the best tribute record I've ever heard. Get this one, it's scorching. I'm surprised he didn't break and burn his guitar at the end. Instead, he says thank you - repeatedly. No Gary, thank you.