Well, just two STUCK IN THE 80s shows to go on WMPG community radio (in Portland, Maine, USA)! Wow. This past Sunday, 1.29.2017, my awesome and talented WMPG radio neighbor, DJ SHAXX (host of the kick-ass LEFT OF THE DIAL), and I teamed up for a second installment in celebrating the 12-inch single, extended remixes and even mash-ups on a show that we called 12inchTHROWDOWN Redux!
The 12” single, to my knowledge, got its start during the disco era of the 70s, but it was during the 80s where the 12” single really flourished. One of the great things I love about the history of the 12” single during the 80s is that almost everyone in the music industry felt compelled to commission at least one 12” extended mix, whether or not they really needed to (i.e. Billy Joel, Chicago, Toto, Matthew Wilder, Nena, Bruce Springsteen).
In the 80s, you had 12” extended mixes from all walks of music life – with artists like Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, INXS, Michael Jackson, New Order and Pet Shop Boys leading the way. The most surprising 12” dance mixes came from Rock and Roll artists. In the 80s, Rock bands like The Cult, Def Leppard, Aerosmith, ZZ Top and AC/DC all released 12” extended and/or dance mixes of some of their songs.
One Rock artist who was talked into releasing at least a couple of remixes in the 80s was the late, great Gary Moore, from Belfast, Northern Ireland. In the 70s, Gary was a member of the Irish Rock bands Skid Row and Thin Lizzy.
For his sixth studio album, 1985’s RUN FOR COVER, Gary teamed up with his former Thin Lizzy bandmate, Phil Lynott, on the song, “Out In The Fields,” about the religious issues they faced in their native Ireland. Shortly after the song’s success, Phil Lynott died at the young age of 36 in early January 1986.
Gary was off of my music radar until his next album, WILD FRONTIER (most notably the album’s first single, “Over The Hills And Far Away”) was released in March 1987. The album features many songs about Ireland and throughout the album, there’s a powerful Celtic presence, especially on “Over The Hills And Far Away.” I think that (along with the incredible assist of a drum machine, believe it or not) is what attracted me to the song. and ultimately, the album.
“Over The Hills And Far Away” is a song about a man who was sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit and longs for the day he gets out to be with the woman he loves (“Over the hills and far away / She prays he will return one day / As sure as the rivers reach the sea / Back in her arms is where he’ll be…”).
The creative non-trad 12” extended mix of “Over The Hills And Far Away” starts off with Gary walking over to a couple of doors from his music past, or rather Gary revisiting a couple of songs from the previous album, RUN FOR COVER – the aforementioned “Out In The Fields,” and “Empty Rooms.” He opens the door to each song via the sound of a creaky door (i.e. his guitar), and then promptly closes each door once the quick sampling of each song was done. From there, he walks over to another creaky door, opens it (again, via his guitar) and then, replete with that powerful drum machine beat, Gary rips into that same guitar and starts wailing with everything he’s got. At the end of the song, the door to “Over The Hills And Far Away” closes too. This 12” mix was one of the highlights of the 12inchTHROWDOWN Redux show from the other night.
Following the release of his next Rock album, 1989’s AFTER THE WAR, Gary achieved his biggest success with 1990’s STILL GOT THE BLUES album, which featured the likes of Blues legends Albert King and Albert Collins, and The Beatles’ George Harrison. It was certified Gold here in the U.S., Finland and Germany. It was certified Platinum in the U.K., Australia and Switzerland, and Double-Platinum in Sweden.
Gary Moore would continue to release (mostly) Blues albums through 2008. He sadly passed away of a heart attack in early February 2011 at the young age of 58. He was beloved by many, especially folks in the Rock music field, including Ozzy Osbourne, Bob Geldof, Brian May and Roger Taylor of Queen, Bryan Adams and Henry Rollins. In Skånevik, Norway, a large statue was erected of Gary Moore, in honor of his many performances at the Skånevik Blues Festival.
I remember Gary mostly for his massive guitar talents, especially on that amazing 1987 song that always takes me “over the hills and far away…”