I remember so well the first time I heard Rory Gallagher; back in 1972, my best mate (and eventually my best man) John visited with a bundle of LPs under his arm and selected one with a bloke in a lumberjack shirt and wielding a battered-looking Stratocaster, insisted we start with the final track on side two. As the needle settled into the groove with nary a crackle I was greeted with the words “well did you ever, well did you ever…” a bit of guitar noodling, then the riff and a slide solo of genius that I’d never before heard the like. From then on, I was and remain a massive fan of the late, great Rory. I bought the albums I’d missed; discovered he used to be in a band called Taste so bought those as well and the rest, as they say, is history. He is the prime reason I fell in love with the blues…all of the fascinating covers he performed throughout his too-short career led me to the wealth of music I continue to research and continue to find unknown artists from the past.
It is however a test of patience and loyalty when a seemingly endless stream of ‘best ofs’ are released with one track that isn’t available elsewhere…this is the case with the latest The Best Of Rory Gallagher. Yes, I and like minded fans will buy it and, to give whoever compiled it credit, it is a brilliant mix of his work from across the years: there are some great Taste songs as well as some from his titular release through to the last studio album, Fresh Evidence, in 1990. They aren’t in chronological order but when you know his work it hardly matters. The compilers have stayed with the studio albums only, probably leaving room for the next live release!
The track that is new to us all is a fascinating cover of (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction which was recorded fro the Jerry Lee Lewis ‘London Sessions’ in 1973. Featuring Rory on guitar and vocals, it is a rousing version of a great song. The pure Rory touches are golden and add so much…listen to the vibrato he add on the intro as just one example of how he always transforms any cover he touches into something recognisable but totally new. Jerry does of course contribute with a decent electric piano solo and a vocal section too; no solo from Rory but this is still, to me at least, worth the money.
Elsewhere we get such classics as What’s Going On from the 1970 Taste album, On The Boards, that shows what a burgeoning talent was about to show the world that the blues was still relevant. The collection also closes with the Taste version of the traditional song, Catfish; this is pure unfettered genius without any studio trickery…just a blues power trio letting rip in a raw and yet pure way. The problem here is that every track is a highlight…take the epic Daughter of the Everglades from the Blueprint album with its country swing; the superb Bad Penny from Top Priority with such a classic riff that is as delicious as it is memorable. The gentle complexity of I Fall Apart from his debut solo album and also illustrates that he was also a great lyricist as well as an unparalleled guitarist. A different sort of Rory was unveiled on the 2010 release of Notes From San Francisco and the track Wheels Within Wheels from this appears to show a more crafted and deep side to both the playing and the dedication to quality in the studio. There is only one real omission in this comprehensive and worthy collection: the 12 string acoustic instrumental from Blueprint…Unmilitary Two Step showed Rory’s sense of humour and dexterity on that so difficult to play instrument.
So if you’re a fan, you will buy it and if by some amazing error you don’t know his work, this is a fabulous starting point. Take a look at the tracks, stop salivating and buy it!
Bluesdoodles rating: A Wonderful trip down memory lane with Rory one for the fans
1. Taste – What’s Going On (from 1970’s ‘On The Boards’ LP) 2:48
2. Rory Gallagher – Shadow Play (from 1978’s ‘Photo Finish’ LP 4:47
3. Rory Gallagher – Follow Me (from 1979’s ‘Top Priority’ LP) 4:40
4. Rory Gallagher – Tattoo’d Lady (from 1973’s ‘Tattoo’ LP) 4:41
5. Rory Gallagher – All Around Man (from 1975’s “Against The Grain” LP) 6:15
6. Rory Gallagher – I Fall Apart (from 1971’s “Rory Gallagher” LP) 5:12
7. Rory Gallagher – Daughter Of The Everglades (from 1973’s ‘Blueprint’” LP) 6:12
8. Rory Gallagher – Calling Card (from 1976’s ‘Calling Card’ LP) 5:24
9. Rory Gallagher – I’m Not Awake Yet (from 1971’s ‘Deuce’ LP) 5:37
10. Rory Gallagher – Just The Smile (from 1971’s ‘Rory Gallagher’ LP) 3:41
11. Rory Gallagher – Out Of My Mind (from 1971’s “Deuce” LP) 3:06
12. Rory Gallagher – Edged In Blue (from 1976’s “Calling Card” LP) 5:29
13. Rory Gallagher – Philby (from 1979’s “Top Priority” LP) 3:50
14. Taste – It’s Happened Before, It’ll Happen Again (from 1970’s “On The Boards” LP) 6:33
15. Rory Gallagher – Crest Of A Wave (from 1971’s “Deuce” LP) 5:54
1. Rory Gallagher – Bad Penny (from 1979’s “Top Priority” LP) 4:04
2. Rory Gallagher – Walk On Hot Coals (from 1973’s “Blueprint” LP) 7:02
3. Taste – Blister On The Moon (from 1969’s “Taste” LP) 3:27
4. Rory Gallagher – Loanshark Blues (from 1987’s “Defender” LP) 4:27
5. Rory Gallagher – Bought & Sold (from 1975’s “Against The Grain” LP) 3:26
6. Rory Gallagher – A Million Miles Away (from 1973’s from the Tattoo LP) 6:56
7. Rory Gallagher – Wheels Within Wheels (from 2010’s “Notes From San Francisco” LP) 3:38
8. Rory Gallagher – Seven Days (from 1987’s “Defender” LP) 5:14
9. Rory Gallagher – Ghost Blues (from 1990’s “Fresh Evidence” LP) 8:00
10. Rory Gallagher – Cruise On Out (from 1978’s “Photo Finish” LP) 4:42
11. Jerry Lee Lewis ft. Rory Gallagher – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (1973 outtake from the Jerry Lee Lewis ‘The Session… Recorded in London With Great Guest Artists’ LP) 3:50
12. Rory Gallagher – They Don’t Make Them Like You Anymore (from 1973’s “Tattoo” LP) 4:05
13. Rory Gallagher – Moonchild (from 1976’s “Calling Card” LP) 4:47
14. Rory Gallagher – Jinxed (from 1982’s “Jinx” LP) 5:1215. Taste – Catfish (from 1969’s “Taste” LP) 8:06