The term legend is banded about too often these days. It seems that every whipper-snapper that's appeared on a reality TV show or had a number one is placed on a pedestal and held up as an icon. However, few stand thetest of time and contribute anything valid to their creative field. Rory Gallagher is indeed deserving of the title. His mass of wayward Irish hair, workman shirts and beaten up Stratocaster are as recognisable as Slash's hat,Iron Maiden's mascot, Kiss' make up and Angus Young's schoolboy outfit. More importantly, his music has influenced all the best rock bands of the last 30 years and will continue to inspire.
It's 40 years since Rory's hailed Irish Tour '74. This celebrated tour was originally released as a live recording but missed the opportunity to have any bonus material. This re-issue changes all that and has expanded this landmark tour into a glorious 7 CD and feature length documentary set and 44 previously unreleased live and studio tracks. This is quite simply one of the best live recordings to ever be released. The rock and blues influence on todays artists is tangible and he is every bit as important as The who, Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones. Hailed by Irish Ambassador Daniel
Mullhall as a founding figure of Irish rock music and a pioneer in bringing the sound to a wider audience and paving the way for bands like Thin Lizzy and U2. Even during the Troubles Rory wasn't afraid to use music as a unifying force and travel Belfast on the tour, something most artists would have considered unthinkable at the peak of violence in Northern Ireland.
His brazen attitude sums up his fearless approach to his music. His energy exudes from the recording and in some places his sound is extremely progressive and experimental, with a nod to Hendrix and Zappa. When performing on home turf in Cork must have been a proud moment for Rory, and all who were there to witness a little bit of music history. (Check out Going To My Hometown to get the immense reaction from the local crowd.)He may appear a little rough around the edges, but boy can he make that guitar sing like no-one else! Walk On Hot With The Kid are high voltage blues rock at its best and out the best of Gallaghers ability as a multi instrumentalist mandolin or banjo he remains a turbulent ball of energy with a unique sound and a master of his genre.
The two Belfast and Dublin discs are a new edition with 100% previously unreleased live material. Gallagher makes the Tony Joe White song, As The Crow Flies, his own in the Belfast CD. Lou Martin on keys really plays some funky runs on Walk On Hot Coalsand Gallagher replies with some staccato tweets from the Strat. Musical heaven.
Even though the set lists may be similar, what happens on the night makes for a very different listening experience; You're not going to have a load of discs that all sound the same, which makes this compilation so exciting.
The Cork City Hall Sessions from January 74, also contain a large selection of unreleased material. It's a jam session that's raw and shows the band experimenting with musical ideas, before switching gear and trying something else. I Want You/ Raunchy Medley, Treat Her Right, Acoustic Medley and Too Much Alcohol are all worth checking out. If you are a musician I dare say you'll have a lot to gain from listening to this session.
Next year marks the 20th anniversary of his untimely death at the age of 47, but Rory Gallagher continues to be a influential force on rock and blues.
There's never going to be anyone quite like the G man.