Back in the day, my introduction to rock music was to buy live albums, so for me to discover Rory Gallagher, essential purchases were Irish Tour 74 and Stage Struck and that was all I bought so I’ve jumped at the chance to review the upcoming The Best Of Rory Gallagher album, due for release on October 9th 2020.
Most of these tracks were like discovering hidden treasure as these thirty songs bristle with timeless energy from the great man who was born on March 2nd 1948 in Ballyshannon, County Donegal but passed away far too soon on June 14th 1995. The album comes in an array of formats, 2LP black vinyl, ltd edition clear 2LP, 2CD, 1CD, digital HD, and digital standard.
Pre-orders of the 2CD album and digital versions will include a special bonus track, a never heard before outtake of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, the Rolling Stones classic with Rory singing and playing with Jerry Lee Lewis from a 1973 London session. The 7″ picture sleeve features a rare archive of Rory and Jerry from that session.
With a timescale from 1969-1990 with his band Taste whom he left in 1970 to go solo, CD1 opens with a Taste track, ‘What’s Going On’. Jarring chords weave around bullish bass guitar as a virtuoso solo midway heralds the return of the earworm main riff.
The instantly recognizable ‘Shadow Play’ is an early highlight . Guitar heroics are a plenty amongst grooves that add an r&b vibe as it ends on enigmatic solos and a full on outro.
‘Follow Me’ is all punk raw as you like riffing, rocking out over a high pitched vocal and strap your headphones on for an over the top guitar freak out midway.
The ethereal intro to ‘Tattoo’d Lady’ heads off into funky bass lines and a raging solo. Piano pieces add some barroom boogie to the romping outro.
‘All Around Man’ is a sprawling bluesy jam as Rory howls along in unison with his strat. Tasty slide work oozes throughout but the spotlight is stolen by some knuckle cracking piano.
‘I Fall Apart’ is a song of two contrasting parts. A first half of poignant balladry then flexes its muscles for a snare drum backed guitar overload.
I was getting a Doors vibe in the beautiful ‘Daughter Of The Everglades’, a six minute burst of tingling psychedelia. The lyrics are heart wrenching in the way they are delivered.
Jazzy moods bound along in ‘Calling Card. This toe tapper has sparse guitar flourishes but are well worth the wait.
I’m Not Awake Yet’ is an earthy acoustic charmer as Rory’s vocal drips with soul. Percussion comes from bongos and a precisely picked outro solo dazzles.
‘Just The Smile’ flows along in the same vein. Ear stroking guitar lines and bubbling bongos enthrall.
‘Out Of My Mind’ is just one man and his guitar. It’s an unholy hoedown to get your feet stomping and there is even a Southern twang in the vocals.
Beautiful heart on sleeve lyrics envelop ‘Edged In Blue’ that are poured out over surf style guitar lines. It’s a real twanger!
A raucous riff drives ‘Philby’ along on a feel good groove. An eclectic solo comes from a Coral electric sitar borrowed from Pete Townshend is mind blowing.
‘It’s Happened Before, It’ll Happen Again’, another Taste song has some crazy jazz noodling with Rory singing along in time with the groove. It flies off at many tangents throughout. A watertight rhythm section locks in over a breezy guitar solo but even more manic is Rory’s saxophone solo, a very accomplished instrumentalist.
CD 1 ends with ‘Crest Of A Wave’ that lives up its title with ease, a reeling rocker with very deep lyrics. A song drenched with lashings of slide guitar.
CD2 opens with ‘Bad Penny’. The angrily delivered lyrics match the forceful guitar work and bullish dynamics as sitar adds a moment of calm.
‘Walk On Hot Coals’ is a full on gnarly rocker. Seven minutes fly by on a wave of shit kicking rhythms, especially from the drums which seem to be high in the mix.
Another trip to the 60’s sees the Taste song ‘Blister On The Moon”. It’s a force of nature of fuzzed up guitar and a pounding rhythm section as the lyrics are almost spoken word.
‘Loanshark Blues’ is a real rockabilly rebel from head to toe as it kicks out the jams with aplomb as Rory, once again delivers some hefty twanging.
Boogie woogie all night long to ‘Bought And Sold’. Guitar work could knock down all that stand before it as Rory peels out some lowdown and dirty Southern rock.
‘A Million Miles Away’ is one of my favourite Rory songs. In fact it’s always seemed more of a story than a song. Time seems to stand still for its seven minute duration as it rises and falls on a wave of emotion. A brass section is truly sublime as it closes on a bombastic outro.
‘Wheels Within Wheels’ is no more no less than a sumptuous ballad that could melt the coldest of hearts. Delightful.
‘Seven Days’ is stripped back to its bare bones as it meanders along on a swathe of acoustic blues. It’s heavy lyrics seem to tell the story of a man being on death row in an electric chair.
There is not much blues in ‘Ghost Blues’, just a full on hoedown that hurtles along the tracks for a frantic eight minutes.
Rory’s fingers burn up the fretboard throughout ‘Cruise On Out’ for a rip roaring adrenaline rush of rock and roll. The solos are finger picking good which make it more white water raft trip than a cruise.
‘(I Can’t Get No)Satisfaction’ makes the Stones 45rpm version a 33rpm speed but in a good way. It glides along on almost doo wop beats, making for a captivating flashback.
‘They Don’t Make Them Like You Anymore’ is a finger clicking jazz influenced jumping jiver.
‘Moonchild’ is my fave track here. Not heard it for a few years but that choppy main riff was like an old friend popping around and the lyrics are emotionally charged.
‘Jinxed’ opens on a squall of feedback as this hulking monster hits its stride. Rumbling bass guitar resonated through my headphones and the guitar solo backed by the main riff is seismic.
It’s fitting that the album begins and ends with a Taste song as the hefty ‘Catfish’ is a bass heavy bluster. It’s a no holds barred freak out of epicness. A lengthy piece of freaky fun, it has quirky lyrics to add magic. The guitar solos bite down hard as it slows down to an almost whisper midway but is battered into submission by the main riff as it ends on a Godzilla like stomped outro. A much shorter review of “Amazing guitarist. He made it look like a walk in the park” comes from fellow music aficionado Mark Berry.
Links to the great man can be found below :-
The album can be pre-ordered here :-
FORMATS AND TRACKLISTING
30 Track / 2CD Set
1. Taste – What’s Going On (from 1970’s ‘On The Boards’ LP) 2:48
2. Rory Gallagher – Shadow Play (from 1978’s ‘Photo Finish’ LP 4:47
3. Rory Gallagher – Follow Me (from 1979’s ‘Top Priority’ LP) 4:40
4. Rory Gallagher – Tattoo’d Lady (from 1973’s ‘Tattoo’ LP) 4:41
5. Rory Gallagher – All Around Man (from 1975’s “Against The Grain” LP) 6:15
6. Rory Gallagher – I Fall Apart (from 1971’s “Rory Gallagher” LP) 5:12
7. Rory Gallagher – Daughter Of The Everglades (from 1973’s ‘Blueprint’” LP) 6:12
8. Rory Gallagher – Calling Card (from 1976’s ‘Calling Card’ LP) 5:24
9. Rory Gallagher – I’m Not Awake Yet (from 1971’s ‘Deuce’ LP) 5:37
10. Rory Gallagher – Just The Smile (from 1971’s ‘Rory Gallagher’ LP) 3:41
11. Rory Gallagher – Out Of My Mind (from 1971’s “Deuce” LP) 3:06
12. Rory Gallagher – Edged In Blue (from 1976’s “Calling Card” LP) 5:29
13. Rory Gallagher – Philby (from 1979’s “Top Priority” LP) 3:50
14. Taste – It’s Happened Before, It’ll Happen Again (from 1970’s “On The Boards” LP) 6:33
15. Rory Gallagher – Crest Of A Wave (from 1971’s “Deuce” LP) 5:54
1. Rory Gallagher – Bad Penny (from 1979’s “Top Priority” LP) 4:04
2. Rory Gallagher – Walk On Hot Coals (from 1973’s “Blueprint” LP) 7:02
3. Taste – Blister On The Moon (from 1969’s “Taste” LP) 3:27
4. Rory Gallagher – Loanshark Blues (from 1987’s “Defender” LP) 4:27
5. Rory Gallagher – Bought & Sold (from 1975’s “Against The Grain” LP) 3:26
6. Rory Gallagher – A Million Miles Away (from 1973’s from the Tattoo LP) 6:56
7. Rory Gallagher – Wheels Within Wheels (from 2010’s “Notes From San Francisco” LP) 3:38
8. Rory Gallagher – Seven Days (from 1987’s “Defender” LP) 5:14
9. Rory Gallagher – Ghost Blues (from 1990’s “Fresh Evidence” LP) 8:00
10. Rory Gallagher – Cruise On Out (from 1978’s “Photo Finish” LP) 4:42
11. Jerry Lee Lewis ft. Rory Gallagher – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (1973 outtake from the Jerry Lee Lewis ‘The Session… Recorded in London With Great Guest Artists’ LP) 3:50
12. Rory Gallagher – They Don’t Make Them Like You Anymore (from 1973’s “Tattoo” LP) 4:05
13. Rory Gallagher – Moonchild (from 1976’s “Calling Card” LP) 4:47
14. Rory Gallagher – Jinxed (from 1982’s “Jinx” LP) 5:12
15. Taste – Catfish (from 1969’s “Taste” LP) 8:06