RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Rory Gallagher - Irish Tour '74 (2CD)
Eagle Rock Entertainment

Rating: A

Forty years ago, an Irishman named Rory Gallagher recorded and released a live album simply titled Irish Tour ’74.  The band recorded several shows actually, but the performance in Cork is the one featured on this anniversary two-disc collection.  Just so ya know, there is a seven CD and one DVD collection as well... that pretty much is every note of every show recorded, with a documentary thrown-in as well.  That’s too much for this writer... I mean, I was raised understanding ‘too much’ of a good thing is dangerous!  So, I am reviewing the two-disc version... and I must admit, this stuff is smoking good.

You see, Rory was not the most handsome man in the world.  He sang with an accent.  He drank too much.  This guy was not going to be America’s next flavor of the month.  He was not going to be a pin-up boy for teenage girls.  Nope... the USA never took Gallagher under it’s wing.  However (and this is a big ‘however’), there were kids back then that sought out cool-ass shit that everyone else in the country was missing.  Rock nerds, guitar geeks and teenage boys (and a few girls) who, for whatever reason, discovered that real music could make them feel good... and they went looking for artists that were flying under the radar.  That’s where Rory was, and those that discovered him are still cranking up his albums four decades down the line. 

He may not have been pretty, and he may have been kinda drunk some of the time, but he also played the blues the only way he could… from the heart.  No, make that from the soul.  Gallagher had no choice but to pour everything he had into his music, and luckily for us this live performance was captured.  Rory was at the top of his game. “A Million Miles Away” is the perfect example of a man who is simply channeling a higher power through his fingertips.  The soloing Rory does is inspirational magic.  His band, McAvoy (bass), Rod De’ath (drums) and Lou Martin (keys) were addicted to that magic and became part of the process.  Gallagher, however, weaved his musical gold throughout the performance.  The end result is an album that came out years before the live album was considered cool.  No, Gallagher never jumped on a bandwagon, instead he played music and let others worry about what was on the popular charts.  He played music for his audience, always realizing that they were the reason he could be who he was. 

This is without a doubt a monumental live album that still, to this day, does not get the respect it deserves.  Rory Gallagher left this world too early.  He had demons that shortened his life, but at the end of the day, he got over on them as his music and legacy will live on forever.  He is more popular in death then he was in life, which happens to some performers.  He still is not a household name, however.  No, here in the US of A there are still kids out there who long for real music.  They are the rock nerds and guitar geeks of today and Rory is still here, lurking in the background waiting for some kid- or adult for that matter- to discover his magical music. 

It goes without saying that this is one CD that should be in your collection.  It is up to us, the music lovers of the world, to keep the legacy of Rory Gallagher alive and well so that others who come after us can partake in the same musical elixir that has been given to us by one of the most unsung heroes to ever pick up a guitar.  From the swagger of “Messin’ with the Kid,” to the grooviness of “Walk on Hot Coals,” to the honesty of “Too Much Alcohol” Gallagher bares his soul.  He mixes blues, rock and his own Irish-take on things.  It works... well.

Play this one loud and often. 

Disc 1 - 01 - Messin' With The Kid
Disc 1 - 02 - Cradle Rock
Disc 1 - 03 - I Wonder Who
Disc 1 - 04 - Tattoo'd Lady
Disc 1 - 05 - Walk On Hot Coals
Disc 1 - 06 - Laundromat
Disc 1 - 07 - A Million Miles Away
Disc 1 - 08 - Hands Off
Disc 1 - 09 - Too Much Alcohol

Disc 2 - 001 - As The Crow Flies
Disc 2 - 002 - Pistol Slapper Blues
Disc 2 - 003 - Unmilitary Two-Step
Disc 2 - 004 - Bankers Blues
Disc 2 - 005 - Going To My Hometown
Disc 2 - 006 - Who's That Coming
Disc 2 - 007 - In Your Town

By Jeb Wright