Full-on scintillating electric blues and more from one of the world’s most influential guitarists…
Review by Dean Pedley
Release Date: 20 October 2014
Long considered a seminal live release, Irish Tour ’74 was originally released as a double album live set by Polydor consisting of just ten tracks. Marking the fortieth anniversary is this all-encompassing eight disc set via Sony that takes in the complete shows in Cork, Dublin and Belfast along with the City Hall session (the soundcheck from Cork) and Tony Palmer’s tour film documentary on a single disc DVD. It has been well documented that the tour took place at the height of terrorist activity and was a time when many artists (Irish or otherwise) refused to play in any of the aforementioned cities but Rory Gallagher returned many times, an act which his Irish fans will always remember him for.
Very much a free spirit on stage, Gallagher would often change arrangements to suit the mood and vibe he was feeling on any given evening. Good examples of this can be heard on ‘Cradle Rock’ and Muddy Waters’ ‘I Wonder Who’ where the versions here differ wildly from one night to the next. From full-on scintillating electric blues and some spine-tingling bottleneck and slide solos the stripped back acoustic sections offer a complete contrast. Gallagher moves from steel to acoustic to mandolin on a selection consisting of ‘As the Crow Flies’ (on steel guitar), Blind Boy Fuller’s ‘Pistol Slapper Blues’, ‘Unmilitary Two-step’, and Big Bill Broonzy’s ‘Bankers Blues’ (on acoustic guitar) and Gallagher’s own ‘Going to my Hometown’ (on mandolin).
Although almost constantly on the road for much of the early 70’s Gallagher still found time to write some terrific songs such as ‘Tattoo’d Lady’ and ‘Walk on Hot Coals’ and whilst no great vocalist his voice had a raw, primal energy that perfectly suited the material. His mastery of the guitar however was a whole other matter entirely and he could more than hold his own with any of his peers, lighting up the fret board night after night and sending the crowd home delirious with the ‘Bullfrog Blues’.
A few weeks ago a couple of “experts” on Planet Rock were debating the merits of the inclusion of Rory Gallagher in (of all things) their Rock Stars Top Trumps pack. “What can you do with a Rory Gallagher card?” one of them asked amidst much chortling from the other. This about a man who has been cited as an influence by Brian May, Slash, Joe Bonamassa, Gary Moore, Johnny Marr, The Edge and many more besides. Keep talking guys; someday you’ll say something intelligent.
9 out of 10
Disc 1 & 2: Cork (5th of January 1974) – Messin’ With The Kid; Cradle Rock; I Wonder Who; Tattoo’d Lady; Walk On Hot Coals; Laundromat; A Million Miles Away; Hands Off; Too Much Alcohol; As The Crow Flies; Pistol Slapper Blues; Unmilitary Two-Step; Bankers Blues; Going To My Hometown; Who’s That Coming; In Your Town
Disc 3 & 4: Dublin (2nd of January 1974) – Cradle Rock; Tattoo’d Lady; Hands Off; Walk On Hot Coals; Laundromat; Too Much Alcohol; A Million Miles Away; As The Crow Flies; Pistol Slapper Blues; Bankers Blues; Unmilitary Two-Step; Going To My Hometown; In Your Town; Bullfrog Blues
Disc 5 & 6: Belfast (29th of December 1973) – Messin’ With The Kid; Cradle Rock; I Wonder Who; Tattoo’d Lady; Walk On Hot Coals; Hands Off; A Million Miles Away; Laundromat; As The Crow Flies; Pistol Slapper Blues; Unmilitary Two-Step Bankers Blues; Going To My Hometown; Who’s That Coming; In Your Town; Bullfrog Blues
Disc 7: City Hall in Session (3rd of January 1974) – Maritime (The Edgar Lustgarden Cut); I Want You / Raunchy Medley; Treat Her Right; I Wonder Who; Too Much Alcohol; Just A Little Bit; I Can’t Be Satisfied; Acoustic Medley; Back On My Stompin’ Ground (After Hours); Stompin’ Ground (Alt version)
Disc 8 (DVD): The Tony Palmer directed documentary Irish Tour ’74