What does it sound like?:
As a cash strapped music fan who started buying albums in the mid 70’s, each purchase was thoughtfully evaluated to ensure they would provide the best head bang for my buck. Artists like Rory presented a dilemma as his solo back catalogue was already eight albums deep; the risk of picking the wrong one was too great. So I resorted to a compilation, helpfully titled “Rory Gallagher” – his name spray painted on the cover alongside a single film roll style snap. Problem solved.
Since then there have been there have been several more compilations -“Etched In Blue” in 1992, “Big Guns – The Very Best Of” in 2005, “The Essential” in 2008, and “Crest of a Wave” in 2009. So, why another now? Well, more recent releases such as “Blues” from 2019 and “Check Shirt Wizard” earlier this year seem to have sold well enough to prompt another compilation, no doubt helped by the fact that the earlier ones are now becoming hard to find.
This new “Best of” comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, with 30 tracks on the 2CD version. The track selection will look familiar to most Rory fans although it is skewed towards the earlier releases, with “Deuce”, “Calling Card”, “Tattoo” and “Top Priority” all providing 3 tracks, as do Taste, whilst “Jinx”, “Fresh Evidence” and “Defender” supply just four cuts between them. “Walk On Hot Coals”, “Philby”, “Calling Card”, “Daughter of the Everglades”, “Tattoo’d Lady” and “Shadow Play” are all present and correct, and it’s a solid representation of Rory’s work. Up to a point.
For someone whose live work – and in particular his live albums – were so critical, the track selection bizarrely ignores “Live In Europe” and “Irish Tour 74”. There are live songs across the 2 CDs – from Taste and “Wheels Within Wheels” from the recent “Check Shirt Wizard” release, but not a sniff of “Bullfrog Blues” or “Messin’ With The Kid”. For a collection described touted as “comprehensive” I’d say this is a major let down.
Finally there’s the inevitable never released before rarity in the shape of an outtake from Jerry Lee Lewis 1973 “London Sessions” which features Rory on vocals. As cover versions go, it’s a bluesy take let down a little by JLL’s electric piano. It’s certainly better than the version that made the “Sessions” release, but for faithful Rory fans hardly worth lobbing out on the 2 CD set just to get it, although there’s a 7 inch vinyl release as well.
What does it all *mean*?
It means there’s always room for another compilation.
Goes well with…
A plaid shirt and a detective novel.
Might suit people who like…
Laughing just to keep from crying.