Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Albums of 1971: Rory Gallagher

Release Date: May 23, 1971

Produced by Rory Gallagher

Additional Personnel: Gerry McAvoy (bass), Wilgar Campbell (drums)

Side One: Laundromat; Just the Smile; I Fall Apart; Wave Myself Goodbye; Hands Up

Side Two: Sinner Boy; For the Last Time; It's You; I'm Not Surprised; Can't Believe It's True

Irish rocker Rory Gallagher (1948-1995) first came to prominence as a member of the power trio Taste in the late 1960s. After Taste disbanded Gallagher began a prolific solo career with his eponymous 1971 debut record. The record showed off his versatility as a musician and as one of the premier guitar players of his era, Melody Maker named him guitarist of the year in 1971. Always a respected figure in the rock community, he toured non-stop including live performances in Northern Ireland during the height of The Troubles. In 1975 The Rolling Stones recruited Gallagher to join them, but was content to continue with his solo career. Rory Gallagher would be the first of eleven records he released during the 1970s.

"Laundromat" became a staple of Gallagher's live repertoire, a bluesy rocker exemplifying his signature style. "Just the Smile" revealed a folk influence in the style of Richard and Linda Thompson. "I Fall Apart" starts out on the jazz/folk spectrum and nicely builds up to rollicking guitar solo. "Wave Myself Goodbye" returns to the blues with a lovely piano, Gallagher almost sounding like Randy Newman on the vocals. "Hands Up" returns to the psychedelia infused blues of Taste.

"Sinner Boy" channeled the B.B. King blues that inspired Gallagher during his youth in Cork. "For the Last Time" breaks into an extended jam with some melodic interludes. The acoustic country western sound of "It's You" is a nice detour track. "I'm Not Surprised" is all acoustic guitar and piano, a melancholy rumination on loneliness and not connecting. At over seven minutes "Can't Believe It's True" showcases Gallagher's virtuoso guitar playing, sustained by a catchy riff and a saxophone solo. "Gypsy Woman" and "It Takes Time" end the record by a return to straight blues. 

Known for his generosity and dedication to his craft, Gallagher left behind a solid discography of studio and live albums.

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