Blues Rock at its very, very best
These days with the internet music in all its forms appears to be all around us at the press of a button yet when I was growing up in the 1970’s you had to save up your pocket money to buy a new LP every month or two, and then you had to loan them to friends in exchange for something they owned and you didn’t; which was the only way to discover new music as, apart from the Sainted John Peel, BBC radio hardly ever played the music I liked and on TV we had 50 minutes per week on the Old Grey Whistle Test.
Perhaps that is why my/our generation value music so much; it was hard to come by!
Which brings me to the only musician that I own every single album they’ve recorded and a handful of bootlegs; ladies and gentlemen I give you…….Mr. Rory Gallagher.
Thankfully for fans like me, Rory’s brother Donal know owns and controls the back catalogue; releasing artifacts on an occasional basis that he feels his pernickety brother would have approved of; making releases like this something of an event in British (and Irish) music circles.
It’s pretty much a given that Rory’s IRISH TOUR ’74 double album is his best work (I can give you an argument about Live in Europe; but we’ll keep that for another day) and I also own a bootleg LP of one of the two Cork concerts that made up the original album; but among Gallagher fans the Holy Grail has always been a recording of the almost mythical Belfast concerts between Christmas and New Year of 1974; and here they are…in all their remixed glory.
You may or may not remember, but Belfast at that time was in disarray with a virtual Civil War going on and the city continually being brought to its knees by bombs of all shapes and sizes; and to his credit Rory Gallagher; a regular visitor for many years; along with Rod De’Ath, Gerry McAvoy and Lou Martin kept their word and played two sold out dates that have gone down in history; as for 48 hours a truce was declared by the paramilitaries on both sides, so the concerts could take place.
Has the wait been worth it and does the world need the other two concerts? Hell yes!
While the box set (3 x concerts at 2 discs each, a CD of unreleased noodling’s and messing around during the sound check at the Dublin concert, a DVD and a marvelous magazine/booklet) is aimed at the completest market I would heartily recommend this to any aspiring electric guitarists as this is a Masterclass in playing the instrument; with Rory and band being at the very top of their game making the duplicate songs noticeably different on each disc as the guitarist bounces off the audiences in ways that the majority of guitarists can only dream of doing.
Some people reading this may think I’m a hypocrite as I’ve spent the last 10 years or so poo-poohing anyone who does a guitar solo over a minute and a half; yet I’m asking you to wallow in the 17 minutes and 40 seconds of In Your Town during the Belfast concert or the 19 minutes of the same song at Dublin; but hey….we were all young once.
As was always the case; there is very little chat between songs apart from Rory nervously repeating the titles of songs and the names of band members when they’ve contributed a spellbinding solo of their own; but who needs stories when it’s the music we want to hear?
Ask yourself; who amongst us doesn’t want to hear versions Messin’ With the Kid, Laundromat, In Your Town, Tattoo’d Lady and Bullfrog Blues that have lay hidden, covered in dust for forty years? Oh… my…. God; these concerts took place FORTY YEARS AGO but they still sound as fresh as anything I’ve heard in that time and will remain so when my Grandchildren listen in another 40 years.
I can’t really say anything else; Rory Gallagher’s music will always be timeless to me and Blues Rock just doesn’t get any better than this; especially his guitar playing (check out the famous Jimi Hendrix quote) but Rory Gallagher could also write a damn fine song too and sing it in such a distinctive way it takes a very brave musician to cover them.
Trust me; Rory Gallagher IRISH TOUR ’74 DELUXE VERSION is worth every single penny of your pocket money.