August 30, 2021

If ever there was a “musician’s musician”, that accolade belongs to Rory Gallagher. Renowned for his blistering live performances and highly respected for his dedication to his craft, he died in 1995, aged just 47, and we mourn him still. Many of rock’s most seminal figures, from Jimi Hendrix to Eric Clapton, Joe Satriani to Joe Bonamassa, Queen’s Brian May to The Smiths’ Johnny Marr, Slash of Guns N Roses to the Edge of U2, have cited him as an influence. Rory remains a touchstone for all would-be guitar heroes in the 21st Century. 

Rory and two colleagues formed the band Taste in Cork, Ireland in 1966. They mostly toured Ireland and Hamburg until 1968, when they split up and a new band formed with Rory, Richard McCracken on bass and John Wilson on drums. It’s a mark of their budding credentials that in November of that year the band, along with Yes, opened for Cream at Cream’s farewell concerts, and then toured the United States and Canada with Blind Faith. 1969 saw the release of the first of their two blistering studio albums, the self-titled Taste, followed by On the Boards in 1970. Later that year they featured at the legendary 1970 Isle Of Wight Festival

Everything seemed set fair – Taste were on the brink of massive international success. To the surprise of everyone including fellow musicians however, the band split – the cause quoted being the usual musical and managerial differences. Rory, still only 22 and keen to make the most of this new-found musical freedom, returned to London’s Advision studios with engineer Eddy Offord, with whom he had worked during the recording of Taste’s On The Boards. The resultant session became Rory’s debut solo album, the self-titled Rory Gallagher, released in May 1971.

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Rory Gallagher, UMC are releasing a five-disc deluxe box set of the album on Friday 3 September. Rory Gallagher (50th Anniversary Edition) will include a brand-new mix of the original album, 30 previously unreleased outtakes and alternate takes, a six-song 1971 BBC Radio John Peel Sunday Concert, plus four 1971 BBC Radio Sounds of the Seventies session tracks, all mastered at Abbey Road Studios. Also included is a previously unreleased 50-minute DVD of Rory’s first-ever solo concert which was filmed in Paris for the “Pop Deux” television show.

The extensive box set package will also contain a 32-page hardback book with many rare and previously unseen photographs from British rock photographer Barrie Wentzell, essays and memorabilia from the album recording including hand-written song lyrics by Rory, and an exclusive limited-edition poster, exclusive liner notes written by his brother and manager Donal Gallagher, his long-time bass guitarist Gerry McAvoy (1970-1991) and Barrie, and finally the full transcript of a 1971 interview with Rory by journalist Roy Eldridge.

Also available will be 2CD and 3LP editions of the album (cut-down versions from the deluxe box set), plus a special limited-edition Neon Orange (transparent) vinyl LP featuring the John Peel Sunday Concert. I’ve listed all the many wonderful and varied formats and tracklisting at the end of this review.

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Life is just too short to attempt to review each and every track in this boxed set! Instead, I’ve listened again to the original album and offer my humble views on the original ten tracks plus the two bonus tracks that have been added to several updated releases since then:

The album opens with a trademark Gallagher riff leading into Laundromat, a track apparently written at the time of the Taste split, when the trio were living in a bedsit in Earl’s Court which had a public landromat in the basement. In typical Rory style he used a humdrum subject matter to create a highly inspirational and much loved song. See the video below for a great performance on ‘Beat Club’ dating back to 1971!

Next up is Just The Smile – it’s completely different, folksy, with an acoustic and percussion sound-mix heavily reminiscent of Pentangle, the late 60’s/early 70’s British folk band that included Bert Jansch and John Renbourn. I Fall Apart is another delicate, engaging love song with a big melodic Stratocaster riff and a beautiful chord sequence – enjoy!

Wave Myself Goodbye is the first of two tracks featuring the keyboard genius Vince Crane, who played for Atomic Rooster and Arthur Brown in the 70’s – and Dexy’s Midnight Runners in the 80’s. He gives a wonderful bar-room blues piano backdrop to Rory’s acoustic work. Hands Up follows, it’s a “get up and go do it” type of song, lots of positivity, aimed at counteracting Rory’s downers and uncertainty when Taste disbanded.

Sinner Boy is another track about hitting rock bottom that unveils Rory’s compassion. There’s some great Telecaster slide playing and heartfelt vocals. Still a relatively callow youth, Rory’s natural technical ability was already on display and amazing. For The Last Time is similar to Rory’s great track On The Boards and is a reflection on the fall-out with Taste, delivered with real passion.

It’s You is different again, a chirpy country number featuring some steel slide guitar, not to mention an early example of Rory playing the mandolin, just underlining his prowess with anything that had six strings! I’m Not Surprised is then another largely acoustic, country influenced blues track again featuring honky tonk piano from Vince.

Can’t Believe It’s True was the closing track on the original album, there’s a strong jazz influence here and it’s just soaked in a production that reeks of that period. In addition to a nicely clean understated guitar line, Rory apparently plays the saxophone! Fittingly, the album closes with a top-notch extended solo that veers from fingerpicking via a heavier rock-based middle section to a jazz-blues final segment. Again, he was the master of so many styles, bless’im!

More recent re-releases of the album have featured two bonus tracks, reflecting his blues heroes. Gypsy Woman is first, a homage to Muddy Waters, who originally recorded it . It Takes Time is then a cover of an Otis Rush song, a Chicago blues genius. The two illustrate the range of blues that Rory loved, and how he loved to arrange and perform.

So – in retrospect, Rory’s debut ‘solo’ album proved a milestone for him, featuring some of his most beloved songs. There’s a wonderful range of emotions and talent on display here, occasionally raucous but more often quite introspective. The guy was genuinely loved by his fans and this is a fitting testament to him.

The full boxed set however doesn’t come cheap, weighing in with not much change out of £90! The many, many alternative tracks on so many tracks don’t do it for me, but others will disagree and that’s fine, it’s all great stuff. Personally, I’m more than content with the ‘purity and completeness’ of the original album. But you know what they say – “You pays your money and you takes your choice” – whichever way you choose to do this, just enjoy the magic!

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To give a full taste (heh!) of the range of the man, I’ve attached two videos – one live and raucous, one slow and poignant…

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For The Last TIme

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Rory Gallagher’s 50th Anniversary Box Set of his eponymous 1971 album “Rory Gallagher” is released by UMC on September 3rd.

Pre-order the album from – https://rorygallagher.lnk.to/50thAnniversary.

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The various formats and tracklisting are as follows:

4CD + 1 DVD Deluxe Set / Super Deluxe Digital

CD1

Laundromat – 50th Anniversary Edition
Just The Smile – 50th Anniversary Edition
I Fall Apart – 50th Anniversary Edition
Wave Myself Goodbye – 50th Anniversary Edition
Hands Up – 50th Anniversary Edition
Sinner Boy – 50th Anniversary Edition
For The Last Time – 50th Anniversary Edition
It’s You – 50th Anniversary Edition
I’m Not Surprised – 50th Anniversary Edition
Can’t Believe It’s True – 50th Anniversary Edition

CD2

Gypsy Woman – Tangerine Studio Session
It Takes Time – Tangerine Studio Session
I Fall Apart – Tangerine Studio Session
Wave Myself Goodbye – Tangerine Studio Session
At The Bottom – Alternate Take 1
At The Bottom – Alternate Take 2
At The Bottom – Alternate Take 3
At The Bottom – Alternate Take 4
Advision Jam
Laundromat – Alternate Take 1
Just The Smile – Alternate Take 1
Just The Smile – Alternate Take 2
I Fall Apart – Alternate Take 1
Wave Myself Goodbye – Alternate Take 1
Wave Myself Goodbye – Alternate Take 2

CD3

Hands Up – Alternate Take 1
Hands Up – Alternate Take 2
Hands Up – Alternate Take 3
Hands Up – Alternate Take 4
Hands Up – Alternate Take 5
Hands Up – Alternate Take 6
Sinner Boy – Alternate Take 1
Sinner Boy – Alternate Take 2
Sinner Boy – Alternate Take 3
For The Last Time – Alternate Take 1
For The Last Time – Alternate Take 2
For The Last Time – Alternate Take 3
It’s You – Alternate Take 1
It’s You – Alternate Take 2
I’m Not Surprised – Alternate Take 1
I’m Not Surprised – Alternate Take 2
Can’t Believe It’s True – Alternate Take 1

CD4

For The Last Time – Live On BBC “Sounds Of The Seventies” / 1971*
Laundromat – Live On BBC “Sounds Of The Seventies” / 1971*
It Takes Time – Live On BBC “Sounds Of The Seventies” / 1971*
I Fall Apart – Live On BBC “Sounds Of The Seventies” / 1971*
Hands Up – Live On BBC “John Peel Sunday Concert” / 1971
For The Last Time – Live On BBC “John Peel Sunday Concert” / 1971
In Your Town – Live On BBC “John Peel Sunday Concert” / 1971
Just The Smile – Live On BBC “John Peel Sunday Concert” / 1971
Laundromat – Live On BBC “John Peel Sunday Concert” / 1971
It Takes Time – Live On BBC “John Peel Sunday Concert” / 1971
* Off air recording

DVD

Interview
Hands Up
Wave Myself Goodbye
It Takes Time
Sinner Boy
For the Last Time
The Same Thing
I Fall Apart

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2CD
CD1

Laundromat – 50th Anniversary Edition
Just The Smile – 50th Anniversary Edition
I Fall Apart – 50th Anniversary Edition
Wave Myself Goodbye – 50th Anniversary Edition
Hands Up – 50th Anniversary Edition
Sinner Boy – 50th Anniversary Edition
For The Last Time – 50th Anniversary Edition
It’s You – 50th Anniversary Edition
I’m Not Surprised – 50th Anniversary Edition
Can’t Believe It’s True – 50th Anniversary Edition

CD2

Gypsy Woman – Tangerine Studio Session
It Takes Time – Tangerine Studio Session
I Fall Apart – Tangerine Studio Session
At The Bottom – Alternate Take 3
At The Bottom – Alternate Take 4
Advision Jam
Laundromat – Alternate Take 1
Just The Smile – Alternate Take 1
Wave Myself Goodbye – Alternate Take 2
Hands Up – Alternate Take 2
Sinner Boy – Alternate Take 3
For The Last Time – Alternate Take 1
It’s You – Alternate Take 2
I’m Not Surprised – Alternate Take 1
For The Last Time – Live On BBC “Sounds Of The Seventies” / 1971*
Laundromat – Live On BBC “Sounds Of The Seventies” / 1971*
It Takes Time – Live On BBC “Sounds Of The Seventies” / 1971*
I Fall Apart – Live On BBC “Sounds Of The Seventies” / 1971*
* Off air recording

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3LP

SIDE A

Laundromat – 50th Anniversary Edition
Just The Smile – 50th Anniversary Edition
I Fall Apart – 50th Anniversary Edition
Wave Myself Goodbye – 50th Anniversary Edition
Hands Up – 50th Anniversary Edition

SIDE B

Sinner Boy – 50th Anniversary Edition
For The Last Time – 50th Anniversary Edition
It’s You – 50th Anniversary Edition
I’m Not Surprised – 50th Anniversary Edition
Can’t Believe It’s True – 50th Anniversary Edition

SIDE C

Gypsy Woman – Tangerine Studio Session
It Takes Time – Tangerine Studio Session
I Fall Apart – Tangerine Studio Session
At The Bottom – Alternate Take 3
At The Bottom – Alternate Take 4
Advision Jam

SIDE D

Laundromat – Alternate Take 1
Just The Smile – Alternate Take 1
Wave Myself Goodbye – Alternate Take 2
Hands Up – Alternate Take 2

SIDE E

Sinner Boy – Alternate Take 3
For The Last Time – Alternate Take 1
It’s You – Alternate Take 2
I’m Not Surprised – Alternate Take 1

SIDE F

For The Last Time – Live On BBC “Sounds Of The Seventies” / 1971*
Laundromat – Live On BBC “Sounds Of The Seventies” / 1971*
It Takes Time – Live On BBC “Sounds Of The Seventies” / 1971*
I Fall Apart – Live On BBC “Sounds Of The Seventies” / 1971*
* Off air recording

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1LP Neon Orange (transparent) Vinyl – John Peel Sunday Concert 28/08/1971

SIDE A

Hands Up – Live On BBC “John Peel Sunday Concert” / 1971
For The Last Time – Live On BBC “John Peel Sunday Concert” / 1971
In Your Town – Live On BBC “John Peel Sunday Concert” / 1971

SIDE B

Just The Smile – Live On BBC “John Peel Sunday Concert” / 1971
Laundromat – Live On BBC “John Peel Sunday Concert” / 1971
It Takes Time – Live On BBC “John Peel Sunday Concert” / 1971

#  #  #

Deluxe Digital HD / Deluxe Digital Standard

Laundromat – 50th Anniversary Edition
Just The Smile – 50th Anniversary Edition
I Fall Apart – 50th Anniversary Edition
Wave Myself Goodbye – 50th Anniversary Edition
Hands Up – 50th Anniversary Edition
Sinner Boy – 50th Anniversary Edition
For The Last Time – 50th Anniversary Edition
It’s You – 50th Anniversary Edition
I’m Not Surprised – 50th Anniversary Edition
Can’t Believe It’s True – 50th Anniversary Edition
Gypsy Woman – Tangerine Studio Session
It Takes Time – Tangerine Studio Session
I Fall Apart – Tangerine Studio Session
At The Bottom – Alternate Take 3
At The Bottom – Alternate Take 4
Advision Jam
Laundromat – Alternate Take 1
Just The Smile – Alternate Take 1
Wave Myself Goodbye – Alternate Take 2
Hands Up – Alternate Take 2
Sinner Boy – Alternate Take 3
For The Last Time – Alternate Take 1
It’s You – Alternate Take 2