By: Faraz Chaudry
This self-titled record marks Rory Gallagher’s first solo excursion following the break-up of his rising group, Taste. For the most part, this CD sticks to the “Power Trio” format, as was featured in Taste. However, percussion is handled by Wilgar Campbell along with bassist Gerry McAvoy holding down the low end. Rory must have found he had gotten the formula right, as both went on to tour and record the next album, Deuce, as part of the legendary Irish guitarist’s trio.
Also, featured on select songs is pianist Vincent Crane. Crane’s appearance on this record creates an interestingly different vantage point on Rory’s music, polishing and sweetening the overall sound.
The most surprising and appealing part of this album is Rory’s incredible versatility. It’s understandable for a first solo album to cover different styles or genres, as an artist finds a niche, but is unprecedented for them all to be so cohesive and well done as in this case.
Rory Gallagher opens with “Laundromat,” a powerful bluesy number with captivating guitar riffs, yet still somewhat staying in the vein of Taste. From there, I couldn’t believe the eloquence and melodic beauty that followed.
“Just The Smile” starts with jangly acoustic guitar riffs, which thankfully even with the new re-mastering did not lose its ‘70s sound, as tends to occur. The simple lyrics are effective statements of a girl’s beauty, which are magnified by punctuations of long guitar interludes.
“I Fall Apart” follows, a ballad featuring airy, reverb-laden Stratocaster sound-scapes supporting Rory’s astounding guitar-work. “Wave Myself Goodbye” introduces Crane on piano in a honky-tonk accompaniment style that presents yet another facet to the album.
Also included are two bonus tracks for the re-release, one of which is an aptly done cover of Muddy Waters’ “Gypsy Woman.” Rory’s version is distinctly more “raw” sounding, beginning with just electric guitar and vocals for the first 1:30, and then introducing the trio. He then solos on both slide guitar and harmonica, sounding equally at home on both. Gallagher’s versatility belies his age, a fresh 23 at this time, and is further proven by his facility on guitar, harmonica, mandolin, vocals and even alto sax at points.
For someone first discovering the genius of Rory Gallagher, this CD is definitely the first stop. All of the songs are simultaneously accessible and virtuosic while highlighting the bright outlook of a young songsmith. This re-mastered version will do well to reintroduce a new generation to the magic of Rory, and help others become reacquainted with an old friend.