Wednesday, 16 January 2019

G.T. Moore & The Reggae Guitars - G.T. Moore & The Reggae Guitars (1974)


Released in 1974

This is a great "forgotten" seventies album. I used to own it back in the mid seventies. It is possibly the finest reggae album from a white group, before The Clash, The Police, Stiff Little Fingers and the like started to dabble in reggae. In 1974, Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones were experimenting with reggae, but this London-based group went the whole hog and were a reggae group, as their name suggests. It is a shame that they never got the success they deserved. The only way of getting hold of the album now is via this download, which sounds to me like a "needle drop" i.e. recorded straight from a vinyl record. It highlights the limitations and frustrations of vinyl for me - scratches and crackles. They are only slight, though, and I am prepared to accept a bit of a dull sound in order to hear this album once again and bring back those memories of 1975. G.T. Moore's name, incidentally, was Gerald Thomas Moore.


1. Painted Ladies
2. Book Of Rules
3. I'm Still Waiting
4. Bye and Bye
5. Way Over There
6. Move It On Up
7. Thou Shalt Not Kill
8. Bad Johnny
9. Knocking On Heaven's Door                  

"Painted Ladies" is an upbeat opener, with some convincing skanking rhythms and Moore's slightly cockney vocal. It is a fine piece of "white reggae". "Book Of Rules" is a superb cover of The Heptones' hit. It was this song that first attracted the teenage me to this group. The reggae rhythms sound completely authentic. It is only the vocal that mars the group out as not Jamaican. The music they have down pat. "I'm Still Waiting" is actually a cover of the Diana Ross hit, and although the reggae sounds are impressive, it doesn't quite do it for me, although it features some catchy reggae horns.

"Bye And Bye" has a great skanking sound, full of rumbling bass and a catchy vocal. It has a folky intro and outro, for some reason. "Way Over There" is a melodic groove that meanders along in a Ken Boothe style. "Move It On Up" (not to be confused with Curtis afield's "Move On Up") is a sort of reggae meets funk and rock. It has a lively, "live" feel, but the sound is more muffled than it ought to be. "Thou Shalt Not Kill" has one of the album's most bona fide reggae sounds and also carries a rootsy devotional message. It is only Moore's decidedly un-Jamaican-sounding voice that slightly mars the overall credibility. There are a few audible vinyl crackles on this one too.

"Bad Johnny" is a horn-powered skanker and the album ends with possibly the finest ever cover of Bob Dylan's "Knocking On Heaven's Door". In fact, ever since hearing this in 1975, I have always subconsciously sung "knocking on Heaven's door - I never felt like this before..." as this is how Moore sang it at the end of this version. The rendition has stuck in my mind ever since. Great stuff.


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