- 28 Nov 22
51 years ago today, Rory Gallagher released his iconic second solo album, Deuce. To mark the occasion, we're revisiting Will Russell's interview with the producer of the 50th anniversary edition, Daniel Gallagher...
In the early days of 1975, Rory Gallagher jammed in Rotterdam with The Rolling Stones, who were seeking to replace Mick Taylor. Whatever occurred on that legendary occasion, Rory – committed to fulfilling dates he had booked in Japan – then took the plane to Tokyo. He didn’t become a Stone. It’s one of the great what-ifs of rock ‘n roll – but most everyone agrees that, in truth, Rory was too much his own man to be happy as one of Mick Jagger’s foils.
I was wandering that same old, drenched, port of Rotterdam, when a dispatch arrived from Hot Press HQ, regarding an interview with Rory’s nephew – musician, archivist and producer, Daniel Gallagher – about the 50th anniversary edition of Rory Gallagher’s Deuce, originally released in 1971.
Later in my room, I listened to this incredible record, in which Rory takes us on a remarkable journey that encompasses blues, jazz fusion, folk and the genesis of Irish rock itself. Astonishingly, it was created when Rory was just 23 years of age.
“Obviously, Rory has a blues rock, mid-Atlantic sound,” his nephew Daniel Gallagher tells me from his home in New York, “but certain songs such as ‘I’m Not Awake Yet’ have those Celtic touches. If my dad (Rory’s brother and manager, Dónal) is right, ‘In Your Town’ is about internment – so yes, there is a strong sense of Irishness in there.”
What was the background to Deuce?
“After the break-up of Taste, Rory kept his head down and just started writing,” Daniel explains. “He actually knocked out his first album Rory Gallagher and Deuce in the same year. And all of the songs were self-penned. Obviously, he was in a rich vein of writing form. Rory is blues rock, but there are a lot of different things going on. Lyrically, they go way beyond my-baby-left-me-and-I’m-gonna-get-a-gun!”
That old blues staple!
“The songs,” Daniel elaborates, “are more mystical. ‘I’m Not Awake Yet’, ‘Maybe I Will’, ‘There’s A Light’ – they all possess a stream of consciousness approach lyrically, which is different for Rory.
“It was one of those records that was a slow-burner for his fans,” he adds. “It is bookended by the first record that got a lot of attention and Live in Europe which was his highest charting record. So, Deuce is one of those records that people dig into later, I certainly did. It’s lo-fi: just three guys in a room, press record and go! I think that’s why it appeals to so many musicians. He left no space for hiding in it.”
WATCH ME FOR THE CHANGES
Deuce was recorded with a real sense of urgency. Rory was driven by a desire to get the songs out there.
“He only did four nights recording,” Daniel explains, “and then a day for the acoustic stuff – that’s ‘Out Of Mind’ and ‘Don’t Know Where I’m Going’. The band had gigs just outside London. They would rip it up, jump straight into the Transit van and charge into Tangerine Studios in Dalston, an old reggae studio with a mixing desk built by Joe Meek. They would set the amps up and just start playing. It’s got that sound: there’s bleed, everything is in everyone else’s microphone – you can’t cheat with this record. If you do anything to one thing, if effects the sound of everything else.”
The anniversary edition is packed with alternate takes.
“It comes with about 30 alternate takes,” he smiles. “We had to mix those – the huge thing was Rory’s lead guitar because it was plugged straight into the amp, straight into the desk. It’s heavily distorted – and it’s not a chosen distortion on the amp, it is distorted going into the desk, so you get these crunch crackle sounds. You can’t eradicate that, but we peeled off what wasn’t meant. With the acoustic stuff, we added a lot more top end and low end, gave it more frequency depth.”
There is an art to this modern-day re-mixing.
“I find the outtakes really fascinating,” Daniel says. “I decided to include everything that was pretty much a full take. The first take of ‘In Your Town’ is nine minutes long. He whittles it down, so you can see his process. He tries out songs, acoustically and then electrically. Nothing was ever set in stone, so for tracks like ‘There’s A Light’ and ‘Maybe I Will’ – all of the solos are vastly different. A track could stay on the album, even if there was a mistake on it, but had a better vibe than one that was perfectly played.”
Daniel is in his element now.
“I always think of the Back To The Future line – ‘This a blues riff in B, watch me for the changes’! That’s the way Rory did it. Gerry McAvoy (bass player on Deuce) was picked to be in a band for Chuck Berry. They never met him before, and were due on stage at 10. Chuck comes through at 9.59 and they say ‘Mr. Berry what are we going to play?’ He says, ‘Chuck Berry songs’ – and on they go. Rory would have got a kick out of that – it’s a Rory tune, you know what to do. By this point, Rory’s band had done the first record and they had a good rack of touring under their belts, so the musicians were tight with one another.”
The 50th Anniversary Edition of Deuce includes a Radio Bremen session and a BBC recorded Paris concert.
“Rory recorded the album in mid-September ’71. Bremen is December and Paris is January ’72, so the band would have gigged these songs a lot by then – and so you can hear further development. ‘I Should Have Learned My Lesson’ in the studio is country blues, but by ‘72 it’s Chicago blues. Radio Bremen is pretty much a Deuce setlist, but it is quite different, because the German guys used a lot of echo on it, which is cool to hear.”
THERE’S BE A HAUNTING
That other great guitar maestro, Johnny Marr, wrote the foreword for the accompanying 64-page hardback book.
“I reached out to Johnny because he is such a true Rory fan,” Daniel says. “As a kid, he would stand outside the Manchester Apollo in the rain just to meet him and get a guitar pick. Famously, he said he spent a few days off school playing along to the Deuce album, realising Rory was using different tunings. I think working out what Rory was playing opened up his mind as to what he could do with the guitar.
“One time, Johnny called my dad, to ask could he come and play Rory’s Strat, so I was given the keys to the archive. I went in and grabbed guitars, Rory’s Fender Bassman amp and set it up in my living-room. Johnny came in, we had a cup of coffee and a quick chat and I watched him play Rory riffs, but very much in his style. So, when I was putting this together I knew I had to ask for Johnny’s involvement and he very kindly wrote the foreword.
“Also, Mick Rock shot the front-cover and we managed to find photos that had never been seen before, so they are included, which makes it really special. The coolest thing I found was this one seven-inch reel, which was from Rory’s home tape machine – you can hear the genesis of ‘Don’t Know Where I’m Going, ‘Maybe I Will’ and ‘Should’ve Learned My Lesson’.”
It’s some box of treats.
“Hopefully we can keep doing it,” Daniel says. “Rory put out ten records in the 1970s, so there is a lot there! Next up would be Live in Europe, for ’73 you’ve got Blueprint and Tattoo.”
“I already did a 40th anniversary edition of Irish Tour ‘74, so that’s done. I also want to do stuff, that people haven’t necessarily heard before – I have a 1990 concert of Rory in London that I want to put out. It’s two nights at what is now the Forum in London – the band are flying, doing a very different set-list. With the Check Shirt Wizard live album, that recording period hadn’t been documented, so that went down really well. I’d like to do the same with the Defender and Fresh Evidence periods.”
I guess the role is equal parts privilege and pressure. He nods.
“I put myself under stress to make sure I pay attention and get it right, I can’t be lackadaisical about it. Rory – and my dad – wouldn’t let me. There’d be a haunting!”
“His output was so good – and, for me, it always has to match his output when he was alive.”
How important was Deuce to Rory?
“‘In Your Town’ was the only song he included on Live In Europe. I think he really liked the way he recorded it, but he may have been slightly disappointed that it didn’t get as much notice as it should have done. ‘Crest Of A Wave’ – we’d love to have heard that played live a million times. It’s got some of his best slide work, but outside of this period, he didn’t revisit it. But that’s what makes Deuce fresh. I have heard an infinite number of versions of ‘Tattoo’d Lady’, so it’s amazing hearing a very different take of ‘I’m Not Awake Yet’, that’s as strong as the one that made the original record.”