If there is a better album released in 1987... sorry just realised I have another 9 months of album release archive to go through so I'll rephrase… If there is a better album released in March of 1987 than Gary Moore’s Wild Frontier then front up with your suggestion and I'll happily tell you how wrong you are. Gary Moore is a strange one for me. I love the solo stuff, I'm not a fan of Thin Lizzy though, and I firmly believe that his brother, Cliff, is a better guitarist. However when I put on a Gary Moore record I am headbanging, I am air drumming, I am marvelling at the lyrical quality of his storytelling and, with Wild Frontier and its Celtic influences, I am trying very hard to riverdance and falling over. A lot. Moore just knows how to tell a story. Fantasy style epics the like you used to get told around an open fire, proper old fashioned tomes put into musical soundbites. From the epicness (it’s a word!) of the opening track, Over the Hills and Far Away with its Celtic nods, driving drums and beautiful lyrics you instantly know you are in for a treat. Wild Frontier its self is one of favourite tracks on the album. Moore’s voice has rarely sounded better, the guitars are almost violins in their orchestration and more than match the actual strings on the record, and there's some typical snippets of 80’s era keyboards that just plant me straight back in 1987 again.
Take A Little Time has similar traits to Wild Frontier but sounds a little more conventional in its Rock roots and then we get to The Loner. The Loner is just beautiful. It's Parisian Walkways and Still Got The Blues before Still Got the Blues was written. It’s haunting, it's troubled, it's so very Gary Moore, it's beautiful. Friday On My Mind is very 80’s, with some very dated keyboards and synthesisers but, once the guitar and drums kick in, it’s the song it should be and a fantastic cover version. Strangers in the Darkness is another song that is hauntingly beautiful. The opening lyrics seep into me, the entire song is a personal experience rather than ‘just’ a song. Thunder Rising is very drummy (yes another word I've invented) and I'm knackered from air drumming come the end of the song. Lyrically though it's another opus of fantastical storytelling…
They looked out from the fortress on the hill.
There came a single warrior returning from the kill.
The spoils of war hung from his horses mane.
The bloody heads of enemies that he had freshly slayed.
Johnny Boy has never sounded this good before or since. No you're crying…
The record ends with Crying in the Shadows which is just a perfect song and piece of music. The layers of keyboards, bass and guitar are in synch with each other, the drums a perfect accompaniment, and Moore’s vocal is possibly the best he's produced. Wild Frontier may sound a little dated to some, and that’s probably a fair comment with the 80’s type keyboards, but the songwriting and musicianship is timeless. Gary Moore may be gone but he is far from forgotten.
Image - Amazon