Gary Moore – A Different Beat (CD/2xVinyl Re-Issue)


Gary Moore’s career was one in a constant state of flux. From his early foray into blues rock with Skid Row, he then tried folk rock with Thin Lizzy, jazz fusion with Colosseum II, full-on metal with ‘89s After The War, before coming full-circle and returning to the blues a few years later. Therefore, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise when he veered into electronica in the late ‘90s, but surprise many it did. The aptly-titled A Different Beat found the old bluesman embracing modernism, and the result was a refreshingly original album that still sounds vibrant today, especially as BMG give it a long overdue re-issue, on CD and a first vinyl release, on four sides of lovely translucent orange wax.

Some music is so far ahead of the curve that time is only just catching up, and that’s certainly the case with 1999’s A Different Beat (and it’s ‘97 companion Dark Days In Paradise). For a long time rock music and electronica were viewed as polar opposites, fans of each genre despised the other, and it seemed that never the twain would meet. It took a visionary like Gary Moore to help break down the wall and opening track ‘Go On Home’ is a sledgehammer full of intent. With a powerful EDM beat over which Moore’s gravelly vocals float, it’s easy to understand why this new direction threw older fans in a hex, but by way of an olive branch some fine slide guitar is introduced, and an equilibrium is reached. When you strip away the musical snobbery, the genre divisions and people’s pre-conceived ideas, you are left with just songs, and A Different Beat has great tunes aplenty.

There’s a constant push and pull on this record between electronic and organic, and it’s a tussle that holds the listener’s attention in a steely grip. Gary’s guitar work is used more sparingly than on his rockier records, and the fact that it only appears sporadically makes it all the more precious, yet there’s lots of fretwork pyrotechnics (an explosive cover of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Fire’) and beautiful bluesy solos (the spellbinding nine-and-a-half minute ‘Surrender’) to keep long-time fans happy. ‘Surrender’ is the one track on here that tethers Gary to his past, and it is the perfect vehicle for his oak-aged, whisky-croak, yet there’s that electro beat beneath, this time more subtle, which pulls him forward. That’s another example of the tension between the antiquated and modern, and it’s one that makes A Different Beat such a rewarding listen.

The experimental nature of this album means that it can sometimes fall a little short, and that’s mainly when the tracks lean too heavily towards the electronic. Playing any kind of crossover is a risky business, it’s a tightrope to be walked with great care, and the musical blend must be just right. Both ‘Can’t Help Myself’ and ode to Mr. Slim, ‘Fatboy’ are uneven listens and miss the mark, but they’re two minor hiccups and mostly this album holds you in a hypnotic haze from start to finish; it demands your total consideration, which is a quality that was missing from much of Gary’s ‘80s output. However, it’s one of those weaker tracks, ‘Can’t Help Myself’, that gets the remix treatment courtesy of Suffolk drum and bass merchants E-Z Rollers, and I must say, it’s a vast improvement, while a coda ‘Surrender’ ensures the album ends on just the right tone.

As with the music contained within, A Different Beat was an album that split Gary Moore’s fanbase, and if any album in his discography was a “Marmite” album, this was it. Gary returned to his roots with his next album (Back To The Blues) but if you want to experience him at his creative peak then A Different Beat is for you.

  • Reviewed by Peter Dennis.
  • A Different Beat is released via BMG on 2nd December 2022 and is available here.
  • Official Website

Track List:

Vinyl Edition:

Side A:

  1. Go On Home
  2. Lost In Your Love
  3. Worry No More
  4. Fire

Side B:

  1. Surrender
  2. House Full Of Blues
  3. Bring My Baby Back

Side C:

  1. Can’t Help Myself
  2. Fatboy
  3. We Want Love

Side D:

  1. Can’t Help Myself (E-Z Rollers Remix)

CD Edition:

  1. Go On Home
  2. Lost In Your Love
  3. Worry No More
  4. Fire
  5. Surrender
  6. House Full Of Blues
  7. Bring My Baby Back
  8. Can’t Help Myself
  9. Fatboy
  10. We Want Love
  11. Can’t Help Myself