Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rory Gallagher - Notes From San Francisco (2011)

For a man with a short career there certainly are a lot of urban legends surrounding Jimi Hendrix. True or not, he supposedly said a lot of wonderful things about other musicians, and considering his iconic status in the rock world, if you ever had your name connected to one of the many compliments attributed to him it would only help your reputation. Such was the case with Rory Gallagher. Hendrix is credited with answering "I don’t know, go ask Rory Gallagher" when he was posed with the question of what it was like to be the world’s greatest guitarist.

Gallagher has often been referred to as the "Irish Hendrix" and he has a worldwide reputation as being a pretender to Hendrix’s throne. Unfortunately, his reputation has not carried over into the United States due to the fact that he didn't tour here very often and his records weren't always immediately available. Those factors, when combined with his death in 1995 at the fairly young age of 47, caused many American rock fans to only know him by reputation. However, Gallagher has recently been making news because of a new double set CD just released from Eagle Rock Entertainment, Notes from San Francisco.

In late 1977, the guitarist and his band completed a very long, six month World tour and then flew to San Francisco to record a new album. The producer was Elliot Mazer, famous for working with a host of classic rockers, including Neil Young, Janice Joplin, and The Band. Despite the heavy hitter in the control room Gallagher was very unhappy with the results so he shelved the finished product in January 1978 and broke up the band he played with for the last five years. Fortunately for fans, earlier this year Donal Gallagher, Rory’s manager and brother, allowed his son, Daniel, to resurrect the album and remix it for release as disc one of this new package.

Disc two was another discovery previously never before offered to the public. It features twelve live songs culled from four shows in December 1979 recorded in San Francisco’s Old Waldorf Theater where Gallagher returned to the more stripped down sound of the power trio he preferred. According to the record company's press release Daniel Gallagher included the live show to prove why his uncle shelved the earlier studio album.

Gallagher has long been considered one of the pioneers of the power trio format with his first band, Taste, in 1966. It was the same year Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, and Ginger Baker formed Cream.

The attractive cover art is just part of the overall fine packaging. It includes some terrific pictures of the great city by the bay and handwritten notes and lyrics by Gallagher himself.

If you prefer something a little more polished the long forgotten studio album is for you. If you prefer the simpler, edgier, grittier guitar assault you may find the live CD more to your liking. Either way Gallagher fans should find comfort in the fact that they finally have some new music to rock out to.

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