Rory Gallagher/Deuce/Live In Europe/Blueprint/Tattoo/Irish Tour ’74 Sony BMG/Capo Music/Legacy****
A shining light or a complicated shadow? Irish guitarist Rory Gallagher was unfair in finances and discourteous about songwriting credits. He was also portrayed as a solitary figure. Such traits contrasted with the image of a successful rock star whose ego was minimal, who was reserved and unobtrusive, who was utterly committed to the live rock show experience.
Simply put, Gallagher was a musician who wanted to be known as more than merely a personality. These re-releases prove yet again what a virtually overlooked figure he is.
His debut solo album, released just over 40 years ago, blends precision playing (has there ever been a better pinpoint guitarist?) and an awareness of light and shade. Tracks such as For the Last Time, Wave Myself Goodbyeand Laundromatfeature the kind of good-time bluster and subtlety that became his signature trademarks.
Other solo albums followed in quick succession: Deuce(1971), Blueprintand Tattoo(both 1973). Each have amazing tunes, notably There’s a Lightand Crest of a Wave(from Deuce); Unmilitary Two-Stepand Seventh Son of a Seventh Son(from Blueprint); A Million Miles Awayand Who’s that Coming?(from Tattoo). Also re-released are two live albums, Live in Europe(1972) and Irish Tour ’74(1974), which are part “you-had- to-be-there” and part “so-good- you-don’t-need-to-be”.
While the live albums consolidated Gallagher’s standing as a performer par excellence, time hasn’t been so kind to them – although anyone old and lucky enough to have witnessed his machine-gunning guitar antics and superlative acoustic blues might disagree.
Through these reissues (each of which feature restored artwork, remastered mixes and sleeve notes from Gallagher’s tour manager brother, Donal) the music lives on, capturing many features of Gallagher’s music that his fans loved.
The thing to remember about Gallagher is that he remained committed to the music, to the exclusion of pretty much everything else, including his personal happiness.
No matter. The finest white blues guitarist of his generation? A one-man Led Zeppelin? You’d be hard pressed to argue against either claim. See rorygallagher. com
Download tracks: There’s a Light, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, A Million Miles Away