- 14 Jun 19
Exhilarating trawl through the Gallagher archives.
Unlike some collections invading the market, the tracks on Blues are not salvaged from the editing room floor. Rather, they are full-blooded performances, with Rory’s vocals, guitar and harmonica never giving less than full value. In all, on this marvellous collection, you get 36 sparkling blues songs spread across three CDs. There are electric, acoustic – and always dynamic – live tracks from the stage and studio, as well as radio and TV sessions. Many were recorded for albums they were subsequently omitted from, and have never been released before; others involve collaborations; while ‘Leaving Town Blues’ is from a Peter Green tribute album.
When you spot that several of the recordings are from the early ’70s – and you remind yourself that the first Taste album only came upon us in 1969 – you have to marvel at the man’s fingertip dexterity. He had an unerring instinct for the right note, and for knowing when to wrap it up too. Rory truly was a great guitar player.
Acoustic versions of ‘Who’s That Coming’, from the Tattoo sessions, and ‘Pistol Slapper Blues’ (recorded for RTÉ) are marvellously invigorating. ‘Want Ad Blues’ and ‘Walkin’ Blues’ are ace vehicles for Gallagher’s slide-playing too. Lengthier solos – such as occur on the electrifying ‘A Million Miles Away’, from a 1973 BBC Radio session – make you suspect he had a few million riffs in his armoury. But Rory always opted for the right one, followed by several more. His gutsy harmonica-playing can be understandably overlooked in deference to his world class fretwork, but ‘I Could’ve Had Religion’ – from a 1972 Cleveland radio session – might balance that one up a bit. Gallagher’s voice is also in great shape throughout, its raw expressiveness requiring no technological sleight of hand.
The Taste era has already been celebtrated in 2015’s I’ll Remember compilation. Now, on the 50th anniversary of Rory’s first recordings, you could not wish for a more exhilarating collection than Blues.