What does it sound like?:
This 50th Anniversary celebration of Rory’s first solo album comes in two editions. For a standard CD price you get the remixed album, plus a 2nd CD of 14 alternate takes and 4 tracks from a 1971 BBC Sound of the Seventies session. The 2nd CD is a compilation from CDs 2,3 and 4 in the Deluxe version.
However, for the purposes of this review, I will look at the Deluxe (around £90) Edition which contains a hardback book, a live DVD and a further 2 CD’s – one of more alternate takes and another of more BBC Sessions from 1971. The DVD is a show from Paris, actually the very first solo show, with Gerry McAvoy and Wilgar Campbell, who didn’t know the gig was being filmed until they got to the venue.
The album itself sounds fantastic. It’s as good as you remember, and then some. In the book, Gerry remembers the recording of it, and what was going on around it, in a lovely chapter that displays his wide-eyed innocence and amazement at playing and recording with his hero. The sound is sharp and crisp and Rory’s guitar sounds wonderful. The 2nd CD (Deluxe version) alternate takes are interesting, especially as this was a brand new band, after the break up of Taste. There are a few tracks from sessions the band recorded at Tangerine Studios, plus a track called Advision Jam, from a session at Advision Studios, where you can hear how tight the band were becoming.
CD3 is more alternate takes (we may be getting into the realm of ‘completists only’ here – how many versions of Hands Up do you need? Six? On you go, pal) but Rory’s playing is never boring.
CD4 is 10 tracks from the BBC vaults, some live, some for sessions, all jaw-droppingly good.
The DVD is 50 minutes long. The first 5 minutes are taken up with a one-on-one interview with Rory from that night (30th April 1971) which has sub-titles and a translator voice-over. You’ll watch it once. However, after that you get 45 minutes of The Rory Gallagher Band in full flight, at their first ever gig. The sound is terrific, especially Rory’s guitar and voice, and Gerry & Wilgar look like a couple of pigs in wotsit as they try and hang onto the coat tails of the boy from Ballyshannon.
The book is wonderful, (I am reviewing from a digital copy but the actual book is a hardback,) packed with lovely photos, (the front and back cover are beautiful shots of Rory,) and full of reminiscences from brother Donal, Gerry Mac and photographer Barrie Wentzell, plus interviews from the time, shots of the handwritten lyrics, torn from a spiral notepad, and lots of anecdotes from the rehearsals and the tour. If you’re blanching at the price-tag, the DVD and book are worth the price of admission on their own.
What does it all *mean*?
If Rory Gallagher had never existed, today’s music world would probably not be much different. He wasn’t a style innovator, always pushing to be different. But he did exist. He did continue to play in the North of Ireland, during The Troubles when, quite literally, no one else would. He was the People’s Guitarist, the People’s Champion. And, boy, was he good.
I miss him.
Goes well with…
A weekend on your own, the stereo turned up to 11, a few beers and your own memories of the Boy from Ballyshannon.
30th August 2021
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