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Blues - Released October 9, 2020 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Two Gallaghers hide another. No, Rory Gallagher is not the brother, nor the father, or even some distant cousin of Liam and Noel. Though over a couple of decades (the 70s and 80s) the Irish guitarist left his mark on the history of Anglo-Saxon music with a blues rock focus. He set out in 1970 at the Isle of Wight festival with his Taste trio and vintage Stratocaster, putting pop music back on the straight and narrow with the blues. His early records still have a folk-psych tinge that was in vogue at the time. Though he very quickly hardened his tone and simplified his sound… or the other way around. He’s the people’s guitar hero in a plaid shirt who plays with both power and grace. He’s a virtuoso who masters simplicity. He has the voice of a bluesman, channelling the magic of good, uncomplicated melodies. This extensive best-of album covers his whole discography, from Blister on the Moon with Taste in 1969 to the hauntingly beautiful Ghost Blues from his last album in 1990, not forgetting a load of tracks from his best period in the 70s. As for the rare gems, you’ll find a greasy version of the Rolling Stones’ (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, sung in duet with Jerry Lee Lewis while they were in the studio together in 1973. Beware the Rory! © Stéphane Deschamps/Qobuz 
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Blues - Released July 21, 1974 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Blues - Released November 11, 1973 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Blues - Released May 14, 1972 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Blues - Released October 24, 1976 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Blues - Released November 28, 1971 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Blues - Released September 16, 1979 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Blues - Released May 23, 1971 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Blues - Released October 1, 1978 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Blues - Released November 2, 1980 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Blues - Released February 18, 1973 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Blues - Released October 24, 1976 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Gallagher's second album for Chrysalis -- and last with his longstanding trio of Lou Martin (keyboards), Rod De'Ath (drums) and Gerry McAvoy (bass) -- was a milestone in his career. Although Calling Card was produced by Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover and not surprisingly contained some of his most powerfully driving rockers, tracks like the acoustic "Barley & Grape Rag" and the jazzy, soulful, finger snapping title cut -- a perennial concert favorite -- found the Irish rocker not only exploring other musical paths, but also caught him on one of his most consistent songwriting streaks ever. Even "Do You Read Me," the muscular opening track, is a remarkably stripped-down affair that adds subtle synths to the rugged blues rock that was Gallagher's claim to fame. While "Moonchild," "Country Mile," and "Secret Agent" displayed catchy hooks, engaging riffs, and raging guitar work (the latter adds a touch of Deep Purple's Jon Lord-styled organ to the proceedings), it's the elegant ballad "I'll Admit You're Gone" that shifts the guitarist into calmer waters and proves his melodic talent was just as cutting on quieter tunes. And it's a crime that the gorgeous "Edged in Blue," certainly one of the artist's saddest and most beautiful pop melodies, was overlooked in his catalog. The 1999 reissue sports track-by-track and first person liner notes from Gallagher's brother Donal, crisp remastered sound, and two additional songs not included on previous versions, one of which, "Public Enemy (B-Girl Version)," later appeared on the Photo-Finish album in an inferior performance to this. Arguably Rory Gallagher's finest studio effort, it was among his best and most varied batch of songs, and it is a perfect place for the curious to start their collection as well as an essential disc showing Gallagher at the peak of his powers. © Hal Horowitz /TiVo
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Blues - Released November 28, 1971 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Released in November 1971, just six months after his solo debut, Rory Gallagher's second album was the summation of all that he'd promised in the wake of Taste's collapse, and the blueprint for most of what he'd accomplish over the next two years of recording. Largely overlooked by posterity's haste to canonize his next album, Live! In Europe, Deuce finds Gallagher torn between the earthy R&B of "Used to Be," a gritty blues fed through by some viciously unrestrained guitar playing, and the jokey, country-billy badinage of "Don't Know Where I'm Going," a too-short snippet that marries Bob Dylan to Ronnie Lane and reminds listeners just how broad Gallagher's sense of humor was. Reflecting the laid-back feel of Rory Gallagher, "I'm Not Awake Yet" is a largely acoustic piece driven as much by Gerry McAvoy's gutbucket bass as by Gallagher's intricate playing; "There's a Light", too, plays to Gallagher's sensitive side, while stating his mastery of the guitar across a protracted solo that isn't simply spellbinding in its restraint, it also has the effect of adding another voice to the proceedings. But such notions of plaintive melodicism are utterly exorcised by the moments of highest drama, a sequence that peaks with the closing, broiling "Crest of a Wave." With bass set on stun, the drums a turbulent wall of sound, and Gallagher's guitar a sonic switchblade, it's a masterpiece of aggressive dynamics, the sound of a band so close to its peak that you can almost touch the electricity. Of course, that peak would come during 1972-1973 with the albums upon which Gallagher's reputation is today most comfortably set. Deuce, however, doesn't simply set the stage for the future, it strikes the light that ignites the entire firestorm. © Dave Thompson /TiVo
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Blues - Released May 2, 1982 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Blues - Released July 21, 1974 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

The companion piece to director Tony Palmer's documentary of the same name, Irish Tour was recorded in January 1974 in Belfast, Dublin, and Cork at a time when precious few performers -- Irish or otherwise -- were even dreaming of touring the trouble-torn island. Northern Ireland, in particular, was a rock & roll no-go area, but Gallagher never turned his back on the province and was rewarded with what history recalls as some of his best-ever gigs. Irish Tour, in turn, captures some of his finest known live recordings and, while it's impossible to tell which songs were recorded where, across nine in-concert recordings (plus one after-hours jam session, "Back on My Stompin' Ground"), the energy crackling from stage to stalls and back again packs an intensity that few live albums -- Gallagher's others among them -- can match. Highlights of a stunning set include dramatic takes on Muddy Waters' "I Wonder Who" and Tony Joe White's "As the Crow Flies," a raw acoustic rendering that is nevertheless totally electrifying. A frustratingly brief snip of the classic Shadows-style "Maritime" (aka "Just a Little Bit") plays the album out in anthemic style and then, of course, there's "Walk on Hot Coals," a marathon excursion that posterity has decreed Gallagher's most popular and accomplished statement -- a status that Irish Tour does nothing to contradict. It's foolish playing favorites, however. Even more than Gallagher's earlier Live in Europe album from 1972, Irish Tour confirms Gallagher not simply as the greatest bluesman Ireland ever knew, but as one of the island's greatest-ever performers. © Dave Thompson /TiVo
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Blues - Released July 1, 1987 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Blues - Released May 1, 1990 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Blues - Released November 11, 1973 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Gallagher's work ethic was in high gear as he somehow found time to write nine more songs in the midst of non-stop touring for his second album released in 1973. Even more astounding is that far from sounding fatigued or burnt out, his performance here is loose and impassioned, and the tunes are some of the best of his career. Lou Martin's keyboards are better integrated into the band, and drummer Rod de'Ath swings and burns with easy confidence. The double whammy of the album's two crunching leadoff tracks, "Tattoo'd Lady" and "Cradle Rock" illustrate just how comfortable Gallagher is with his backing group, and the smooth-rolling unplugged guitar and harmonica of "20-20 Vision" proves that the blues rocker is a more than adequate Delta/folk musician. Better still is the acoustic slide intro to "Who's that Comin'" that effortlessly and discretely eases its way into a Chicago styled, mid-tempo, electric attack. "A Million Miles Away" pushes the envelope even further with a slow, greasy swamp groove against which Gallagher picks clipped, staccato notes over a well-oiled rhythm section, thick Hammond organ overdubbed with piano from Martin, and even a multi-tracked sax section from the guitarist. The 2000 reissue adds "Tuscon, Arizona" an unusual acoustic waltz-time country Link Wray cover, and a seemingly unrehearsed driving version of the blues standard "Just a Little Bit" that runs almost eight minutes, and is interesting for about half that. Short but informational track-by-track liner notes from Gallagher's brother Donal and crisp remastered sound makes this an essential purchase for established fans and an excellent place to start for new Rory Gallagher listeners. © Hal Horowitz /TiVo
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Blues - Released October 1, 1975 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Blues - Released September 16, 1979 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Gallagher's fourth and final studio set for Chrysalis finds the Irish blues-rocker in prime form. Arriving only a year after Photo-Finish, when he spent much of his time on the road, it's remarkable that Gallagher could continue to churn out the hook-heavy high-quality tunes he wrote for this album. Playing larger arenas toughened his songs and attack, almost all of which here are high-octane sweaty rockers. While that makes for some thrilling, intense music, the nonstop vibrant energy rush is never balanced out with a ballad or even the rootsy, swampy blues that Gallagher always performed with such authority. So even though the opening charging riff of "Follow Me"; the slower, urging groove of "Keychain"; and the melodic, relatively subtle hard rock of "Bad Penny" were notable inclusions to the Gallagher catalog and his concerts, the lack of acoustic tunes or less aggressive music gives the album a one-note feel. This isn't helped by the two additional tracks added for the 1999 reissue, both of which stay locked in the same basic hard-edged format. That said, Gallagher and his backing duo are in top form, churning through the songs with remarkably crisp energy. Rory is starting to shout more than sing, but his voice was still powerfully expressive, and when he gets excited on the double-time, cranked up "Just Hit Town" as he overdubs his patented guitar lines, the blues-rocker's guttural screams make it sound like he's on fire. Gallagher also blows some snarling, overdriven harp for the first time in a while on "Off the Handle," one of the album's moodier tracks, and sounds enthusiastic throughout. Except for the lack of diversity, this remains a strong set from the Irishman, and is highly recommended, especially to his less blues-oriented fans. © Hal Horowitz /TiVo