About a month and a half ago, I was told t hat I should get this album. I had never heard of Rory Gallagher and couldn't figure out why a tour of Ireland would be all that significant, but I put it on the Amazon wishlist and there is languished for awhile.
During the Holiday Amazon Giftcard Blowout, I picked it up. I should also mention that purchasing this CD is a violation of personal policy. I will not buy a live album as my introduction to an artist. It's always ended badly in the past.
I still had heard nothing else of the man, but I thought, I listened to half of a track and wasn't too impressed so I should get this. Right? After ordering it, I was told by a number of people that I was nuts for thinking that this album might not be amazing.
|Photo by Neal Grillot|
Rory ripped into his guitar and this concert was off and moving. I stared cursing at the CD player in amazement. That really is the highest compliment I can give a guitarist when I first hear them.
I'm not going to give a rundown of the tracks, because honestly I don't really know their names and I cannot tell you really when one ends and another begins. For lack of a better term, Rory's a noodler. On each track he works his way up and down the fretboard with ease and rocks these songs out. In full disclosure, I don't know how long the studio versions of these songs are, so please don't send me hatemail about how he's playing them true to the original records. This is all I've heard, so I'm commenting on what I've got, not everything that's out there. I loved the noodling. This is what I love about live albums by strong guitarists. In the studio, they have to tuck it back a bit more, but they can let loose live and he did.
On damned near every song.
The first couple songs are straight blues and then it moves into blues inspired rock. I'm not sure if I preferred one to the other, but I just really have been enjoying the ride. This is clearly a solo artist with a backing band. That much is rather apparent. His playing, singing, and harmonica are always the main focus of the song, but he also lets the keyboard player do more than just fill in space. There are several solos with the keyboard set to both organ and piano. In the organ style songs, it reminds me of what could have happened if The Doors and Jimi Hendrix had birthed an Irish baby...in music only.
As can be seen in the photo, Rory played a beaten down Stratocaster. During this concert I could hear him knocking paint off of the body. When he would execute a series of hammer ons and pull offs, I could feel the neck bending beneath him and I was thankful that I wasn't receiving the blunt force trauma of those blows, but there were times when his touch was gentle and moving. His picking was somewhat unique and like Hendrix he often times picked very close to the bridge in order to obtain different sounds. There was also an array of effects, that I still cannot place, which created a very unique tone and color palette. All in all, his playing and mastery of the instrument were amazing.
Like Hendrix, Rory Gallagher has magic in him. So few players, nay people, have that kind of specialness flowing through them. With each note he played, I could feel his power, emotion, and presence and I was always wanting for more. Even though he tragically died early, at least he left a fairly large catalog behind. If you're new to this artist, "Irish Tour '74" is a great place to start.
Genre: Blues Rock
Run time: 69:27
1) Cradle Rock
2) I Wonder Who
3) Tattoo'd Lady
4) Too Much Alcohol
5) As The Crow Flies
6) A Million Miles Away
7) Walk On Hot Coals
8) Who's That Coming?
9) Back on My Stompin' Ground (After Hours)