Irish-born guitarist Rory Gallagher first came to our attention as frontman of the power trio Taste, a well-regarded band that rode the second wave of the 1960s-era British blues-rock boom to a modicum of success and fame. Gallagher launched his solo career with a self-titled 1971 album, and immediately hit the road, touring almost constantly until his death in 1995.
Along the way he recorded better than a dozen studio, and a handful of live albums that showcased his incendiary playing style and underrated songwriting skills. Often overlooked in favor of contemporaries like Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, Gallagher stands among the best blues-rock guitarists in the history of the genre.
Live! In Europe (1972)
Released a mere year into the Irish blues guitarist's fledgling solo career, Live! In Europe captures a young stallion prancing and preening across the stage, getting his legs beneath him and developing his dynamic live show on which a large part of his reputation is based. Long on interpretations of traditional and standard blues songs like "Messin' With The Kid" and "Hoodoo Man," and short on original material, Live! In Europe captures the reckless energy and youthful enthusiasm of the guitarist at the first stages of a career that would stretch across three decades.
Irish Tour 1974 (1974)
Two years after the release of Live! In Europe, Gallagher returned home to Ireland for a series of nine shows that showcased a confident, seasoned veteran guitarist with a handful of studio recordings under his belt and an expanded musical palette that he applied to a larger catalog of songs. Irish Tour 1974 features musical highlights of the tour and serves as a companion to the documentary film of the same name shot by director Tony Palmer. The album offers an inspired mix of original songs like "Tattoo'd Lady," "Walk On Hot Coals," and "A Million Miles Away" as well as choice covers of J.B. Hutto's "Too Much Alcohol" and Muddy Waters' "I Wonder Who," standing as one of the best live blues-rock recordings of the era.
Solid Artistic Efforts
Calling Card (1976)
Produced with a steady hand by former Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover, Gallagher's Calling Card found the guitarist stretching his sound out a bit beyond the confines of blues-rock to include soul, jazz, and even pop in what would prove to be one of his strongest sets of original material. While hook-laden rockers like "Country Mile" and the title track would become fan favorites on the live stage, melodic tracks like "Edged In Blue" and "I'll Admit You're Gone" display a different dimension to Gallagher's talents.
Gallagher's sophomore album was released a short six months after his self-titled debut, but shows an incredible amount of artistic growth and maturity. Featuring eleven original songs, with Deuce Gallagher wrote the blueprint that he would follow through much of the rest of the decade, mixing up rambunctious, guitar-driven blues-rock with scraps of acoustic country blues, intricate roots-rock, and heartfelt R&B. His guitar tone and phrasing is excellent throughout, and his songwriting skills were developing at an amazing pace. While Deuce placed only one song – the rowdy "Crest Of A Wave" – into Gallagher's canon, there's literally not a bad track on the album.
Notes From San Francisco (2011)
This long-anticipated "lost" album, recorded by Gallagher and his four-piece band in San Francisco in 1977, was finally released in 2011 and proved to be well worth the wait. Featuring nine original songs, some of which would be re-recorded a year later for Photo-Finish, as well as a couple of "bonus tracks," Notes From San Francisco shows the artist straining at the confines of the blues-rock form and trying to expand his sound. The two-disc set includes a rock solid live performance from 1979 that puts the (later) Stage Struck to shame.
Worth A Listen
Gallagher's pair of 1973 album releases would showcase the guitarist at the top of his form, and yielded a number of songs that would become fan favorites, performed by Gallagher for the next decade. Blueprint was the first of the pair, and if it's often overlooked in favor of the admittedly superior Tattoo, it's a solid collection of material nonetheless, highlights including the raver "Walk On Hot Coals," the sultry "Daughter Of The Everglades," and the extended jam that was "Seventh Son Of The Seventh Son." A lively cover of Big Bill Broonzy's "Banker's Blues" is another good 'un, showcasing Gallagher's acoustic blues skills.