Monday, June 7, 2010

Rory Gallagher - Rory Gallagher (LP, Polydor)

For an artist as prolific as Rory Gallagher, he remains largely unknown outside the circle of true blues fans. Ask anyone who the greatest guitar player is, and chances are that they will answer Jimi Hendrix. However, there is an old story about Jimi Hendrix being asked by an interviewer after Woodstock what it was like to be the greatest guitar player in the world; Hendrix replied "Go ask Rory Gallagher".

Born in Ireland, Gallagher began his recording career after moving to London and forming a trio called Taste. The group's self-titled debut album was released in 1969 in England. Between 1969 and 1971, Gallagher recorded three albums with Taste before they split up. Gallagher began performing under his own name in 1971.

Rory Gallagher's solo debut picks up where his previous band left off - it's a solid blues rock outing with ten original tunes. "Laundromat", "Hands Up", and "Sinner Boy"'s distinctive riffs were early concert favorites, but the album's ballads were some of Gallagher's strongest. "I Fall Apart", "Just the Smile" and the acoustic "I'm Not Surprised" mixes strains of Delta blues with strong melodic sensibilities into songs of rare poignancy. Gallagher seems rather restrained throughout his debut, holding back the fret-burning in favor of strong songs. He opens up on the album's jazzy, seven-minute finale "Can't Believe It's You" which even features an alto sax.

Gallagher passed away from complications owing to liver transplant surgery in 1995, at age 47. For a good introduction to his unparalleled prowess as a guitarist, singer, and songwriter, there's no better place to start than this debut.

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