BOY, COULD HE PLAY GUITAR
We all have our favourites – I’d go for 1978’s Photo-Finish – but Rory Gallagher, the guitar God, was and is best experienced live. How many of us have thrown shapes to Live In Europe or Irish Tour ’74? Anyone with even a modicum of taste – yep – I’d expect. Recorded on his 1977 English tour, Check Shirt Wizard is more than worthy of inclusion just slightly behind – but only slightly – those two cast-iron classic recordings.
Taken mostly from Against The Grain and Calling Card – fine albums in their own right – the performances here lift those songs another notch. Right from the “Rory!” chant, and the familiar
“Ladies and Gentlemen, Rory Gallagher!” introduction, this is fantastically exciting. Slide guitar playing dynamites ‘Secret Agent’, a ridiculously good ‘Souped-Up Ford’, and is employed again on ‘Bullfrog Blues’. Hell, even the latter’s bass and drum solos – infections that should usually be quarantined like viruses from the East – by Gerry McAvoy and the marvellously-monikered Rod De’ath are worth hearing.
You can forget about picking highlights, as it’s all great. There’s the terrific ‘Used To Be’ from Deuce; the groove of ‘Calling Card’; and the crowd clapping along to the chugging riff of ‘Bought And Sold’ before it takes off, driven by Lou Martin’s boogie-woogie piano. Or how about ‘Moonchild’ – hardly the greatest song Rory ever wrote – in which the whammy bar abuse must contravene some UN charter on guitar rights? There’s also an acoustic set with readings of ‘Out On The Western Plain’, ‘Too Much Alcohol’, and ‘Going To My Hometown’ that would leave a statue agape.
And I haven’t even mentioned the furious run at Sam & Dave’s ‘I Take What I Want’, which explodes from the speakers as Gallagher the master utilises every trick in his untouchable arsenal. If it doesn’t have you out of the seat, rockin’ the air guitar, then call a doctor. What are you doing still reading this? Put it on again, there, and turn it up. OUT MARCH 6 · PAT CARTY