Check Shirt Wizard – Live in ‘77
Another Spectacular Live Release That Cements His Reputation.
I have been a Rory Gallagher fan since my (sadly now late) best friend
excitedly made me listen to a record called On The Boards by Taste in 1970.
From that minute onwards I was hooked; as apart from Jimi Hendrix no other guitarist ever turned me on as much, and in the early ‘70’s there was a LOT of strong competition; believe me. I avidly followed Rory’s career with Taste; then after they disbanded snapped up his first eponymous solo album in 1971, then subsequently grabbing his solo albums as soon as they were released.
As good as his studio albums are, and I do urge you to check them out, it
was Rory’s live shows and many subsequent live albums that forged his
reputation as a hard working, imaginative crowd pleasing showstopper. Rory seeming to make it his mission to leave his audiences as worn out and dripping with sweat as he was.
I was fortunate to see the Great Man in action countless times when he played the North East of England; so was really looking forward to the release of Check Shirt Wizard as an early Press Release said it was recorded from a variety of shows in Hammersmith, Brighton, Sheffield and my home town Newcastle.
I was whisked back 43 years to that halcyon evening as soon as I heard the chants of “Rory! Rory! Rory!” that precedes the first song “Do You Read Me” and the song itself certainly doesn’t disappoint either, rekindling feelings a man my age shouldn’t feel on a school night.
It was with some (small) disappointment that only three of the 20 songs feature from that Newcastle City Hall gig, as I’m pretty certain I attended that particular night. But what three great songs they are!
“Edged In Blue” and “Country Mile” are from the album Calling Card; the album that the Tour was promoting, plus a blistering performance of “Used To Be“ from (the now Classic) Deuce.
By 1977 Rory had added piano/keyboard player Lou Martin to flesh out
his usual three piece onslaught. In my opinion this definitely was an
improvement to the already excellent set up of Gerry McAvoy on bass and
Rod D’eath on drums.
One of the other highlights here; for me is a version of “Tattoo’d Lady” that must have lifted the titular Dome off the venue in Brighton. It is 6 minutes of sheer delight as Rory trades mercurial guitar licks with Lou Martin’s equally nifty ivory tinkling.
Other songs to ‘listen out for’ are “I Take What I Want” from Sheffield City Hall, “Jack-Knife Beat” with its absolutely backbone tingling guitar work is one of the Hammersmith Odeon songs and of course the classic “Bullfrog Blues” is as wonderful as every other recorded version, again from the Brighton Dome gig.
This double CD offering (also available as a triple vinyl LP package)
is a fine addition to Rory Gallagher’s already excellent live
archive and sits well along side Live In Europe, Irish Tour and
Stagestruck documenting another key period in his scintillating career.
Review courtesy John Jobling, (photographer extraordinaire and one time host of the Hawaay 61 Blues-Rock radio show on NE1)