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

The live album Live in Europe/Stage Struck captures Rory Gallagher at his finest, as he tears his way through many of his very best songs. Though the performance quality is a little uneven, there are gems scattered throughout the record, including smoking versions of "Messin' with the Kid" and "Laundromat." © Thom Owens /TiVo
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Rock - Released May 17, 2011 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

It's surprising, considering the interesting back story on the studio portion of this posthumous Rory Gallagher release, that there are no notes on the actual packaging to chronicle its eventual appearance in 2011, nearly 33 years after being recorded in December 1977. According to the press release though, Gallagher clashed with producer Elliot Mazer about the mix on these dozen tunes and not only shelved the tapes, but broke up his longtime band after the San Francisco session ended. Out went keyboardist Lou Martin and drummer Rod de'Ath, replaced by skinsman Ted McKenna (bassist Gerry McAvoy remained) to strip down the sound for his next phase. About half these songs, such as "Mississippi Sheiks," "Fuel to the Fire," "Brute Force & Ignorance," "Cruise on Out," and "Overnight Bag" appeared on 1978's Photo Finish in different performances. Some, like the closing "Out on the Tiles" and "B Girl," will be new to all but the most ardent Gallagher followers. Shortly before his death, the guitarist apparently mentioned to his brother Donald that he'd like the tapes to be released someday if they were remixed, which is exactly what Donald's son Daniel did in 2011, resulting in these long-lost tracks finally seeing the light of day. Despite Gallagher's reservations, everything here is up to his usual high standard, and he obviously respected the material enough to re-record the bulk of it with a different band and producer later that year. The electric violin on "Mississippi Sheiks" is a new twist on both Gallagher's blues-rock style and the song, which helps differentiate this version from the more famous one that appeared on Photo Finish. Saxophone, played by Martin Fiero, enhances two cuts, also bringing a unique groove, especially to the lumbering "Brute Force and Ignorance." The package includes a December 1979 live show, also recorded in San Francisco, that finds Gallagher and his two-piece in typically fine fettle. They revisit the Taste-era chestnut "Bullfrog Blues" and tear into the rarity "I'm Leavin'" with their notorious paint-peeling approach. He digs back some years for a tough take on "Tattoo'd Lady," but most of the set is derived from his mid- to late-'70s albums Top Priority, Photo Finish, and Calling Card. A breathless "Sea Cruise" closes the set, and is probably a nod to Jerry Lee Lewis, on whose album Gallagher guested. It caps off a roaring, electrifying show that, along with the studio disc, makes a worthwhile addition to any Gallagher lover's collection. Even lacking detailed liner notes, this is a keeper and an important historical document in Rory Gallagher's short but eventful career. © Hal Horowitz /TiVo
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Blues - Released October 1, 1975 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

After releasing two albums in 1973 and a live, contract-fulfilling disc in 1974, Gallagher returned rested and recharged in 1975 with a new record label, Chrysalis, and a band with almost three years of hard touring under their belts. With its attention to detai, Against the Grain sounds more practiced and intricate than most of Gallagher's previous studio discs, but still includes some of his most powerful rockers. The supercharged "Souped-Up Ford," where Rory howls and wails, with his voice and smoking slide, and "All Around Man," an urgent blues rocker that begins with Gallagher screaming and crying together with just his electric guitar until the band kicks in with a stop-start blues rhythm, are two of the definitive moments. "Bought and Sold" adds congas to the mix to bring a more rootsy and even jazzy feel to Rory's table. But it's on the acoustic tracks where the guitarist and his band really lay into the groove. Gallagher's version of Leadbelly's "Out On the Western Plain," with its combination of Indian chords, American Delta folk and cowboy "yippee-ki-yay" chorus is one of the Irishman's unheralded highlights, and "Cross Me Off Your List" is affecting in its yearning melody, subtle keyboard and minor key. A playful and forceful romp through Sam and Dave's "I Take What I Want" shows Gallagher's soul roots. Two bonus tracks from the 2000 reissue and recorded at these sessions are country based jams, but neither is particularly impressive. Not his best album, Against the Grain is still prime period Rory Gallagher. Its well-rounded menu of country, Delta blues, and blues-rock is indicative of his approach; though few of these songs became classics in the guitarist's extensive catalog, they're far more mature and eclectic than most blues-rock bands' best work. © Hal Horowitz /TiVo
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Rock - Released March 6, 2020 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Check Shirt Wizard: Live in 1977 is a 20-track collection culled from four shows from Rory Gallagher's 1977 U.K. tour. The previously unreleased live tracks were recorded in London, Sheffield, Brighton, and Newcastle and feature songs from his 1976 album Calling Card as well as tracks from 1975's Against the Grain. © TiVo
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Blues - Released May 2, 1982 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Rory Gallagher sounds inspired throughout JInx, gamely leading new drummer Brendan O'Neill and keyboardist Bob Andrews through the blues-rock paces, even though the guitarist's personal fortunes were on a downslide from which they would never recover. "Big Guns" and "Bourbon," the album's opening selections find Rory in full fiery form, tossing out muscular guitar lines and fiery solos with descriptive lyrics catering to his infatuation with American gangsters. The album also features two of his best, and least known, songs in the spooky, paranoid title track, complete with simmering sax section, boiling tom-tom drums as well as his own stealthy harmonica, and "Easy Come Easy Go," a beautiful, bluesy ballad where Rory double tracks his acoustic and electric guitars. Gallagher's tough vocals take on a new emotional depth not previously heard, and are particularly poignant throughout. Diving into the blues, Lightnin' Slims' "Nothin' but the Devil," one of the two songs added for this reissue, is an acoustic solo showpiece revealing Gallagher's delta roots and substantial slide abilities. Louisiana Red's "Ride On Red, Ride On" is a crackling double-time burner with Rory charging through with an appropriately whisky-soaked approach and a shimmering electric slide solo. Another extra track, "Lonely Mile," a finished tune previously omitted due to the time restrictions of vinyl, is a worthy addition to Gallagher's mid-tempo grinding rocker catalog. Although not his best album, Jinx is a tough and confident release, and it's 2000 reappearance after being difficult to find for almost 20 years, especially in this pristine edition, is reason to rejoice for Rory Gallagher fans. © Hal Horowitz /TiVo
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Blues - Released October 1, 1978 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Remixed and expanded (with two additional tracks recorded but chopped off the vinyl version) for its debut on CD in 1999, this is a sturdy, workmanlike Rory Gallagher release. Reverting back to a trio, Gallagher toughens up his sound and blazes through some robust blues rockers like "Last of the Independents," "Shadow Play," and "Brute Force & Ignorance" (one of his best hard rock riffs) with nervy energy. Gallagher's swampy side emerges on "Cloak & Dagger," another song that explores his fascination with B-movie gumshoes, a common theme for the Irish blues-rocker. His guitar work is typically excellent throughout, especially on "Overnight Bag," as he overdubs himself on acoustic. Still, the album has a samey feel due to some of the songwriting not being quite up to snuff, and a few tracks, like the moody, slow-burning "Fuel to the Fire," stretched well past its breaking point to over six minutes. Of the two additional tunes, "Early Warning" is a typically rugged chunky rocker, and "Juke Box Annie" explores the guitarist's jaunty, slightly funky country style. Neither is essential, but both will be important finds for the Gallagher collector. Brother Dónal's liner and track notes are short yet informative, and the sound is an enormous improvement over the original version. There is a remarkable clarity and fullness to the bass, along with a definition that exposes heretofore unheard instruments like the mandolin on "Brute Force..." and handclaps on "Cruise on Out," both previously buried in the mix. Not a great Rory Gallagher album, but a rock-solid one that won't disappoint established fans. © Hal Horowitz /TiVo
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Blues - Released May 1, 1990 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

There was no way that Rory Gallagher could have known that Fresh Evidence would be his last recording, but in retrospect, it is a good summary of all that is fine and some that is frustrating about his work. The first few tracks are competent but less than perfect; "'Kid' Gloves" is yet another weak song that is based on his well-known love of crime fiction, and "The King of Zydeco" shows that Gallagher may have liked zydeco music a lot, but he doesn't sound natural playing it. Things pick up on "Middle Name," which sounds a lot like the Doors' "The Wasp" but has some sharp soloing, and things really get rolling on "Ghost Blues." From this point on, it seems that Gallagher wanted to prove his mastery of every style of blues, and amazingly, he succeeds. The Delta blues of "Heaven's Gate" shows his mastery of the form, and the jazzy, swinging Chicago blues instrumental "The Loop" is a classic track. The very best was saved for last: the thundering "Slumming Angel." Everything is absolutely together here, the distinctive voice belting out a great simple lyric over a hammering rhythm section and a heaping helping of guitar, guitar, guitar. For all that, it starts slow and has a few tracks that sound like filler, albeit tasty filler. Nevertheless, Fresh Evidence showed that even after over 20 years of reinterpreting various strains of blues, there was plenty of spirit and creativity left in the great Irish rocker. © Richard Foss /TiVo
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Blues - Released May 23, 1971 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Rory Gallagher's solo debut picks up where On The Boards left off - it's a solid, but significantly less raucous, blues rock outing with ten original tunes that were far more than skeletons for his incisive Strat picking. "Laundromat," "Hands Up," and "Sinner Boy"'s distinctive riffs were early concert favorites, but the album's ballads were some of Gallagher's strongest. "For the Last Time," "Just the Smile" and the acoustic "I'm Not Surprised" mixed strains of Delta blues with strong melodic sensibilities into songs of rare poignancy, especially for an artist who was best known for his scorching leads. In this respect Gallagher was an early model for Eric Clapton, whose solo career followed a similar path. Interestingly, Gallagher seems rather restrained throughout his debut, holding back the fret-burning in favor of strong songs. He opens up on the album's jazzy, seven-minute finale "Can't Believe It's You" which even features an alto sax, an instrument Gallagher all but abandoned on later albums. 2000's reissued, remastered version of the disc includes two additional tunes, Muddy Waters' slow Delta blues number "Gypsy Woman" and Otis Rush's fast Chicago shuffle "It Takes Time," both cut at the same sessions. "Gypsy Woman"'s slashing slide guitar and vocals sound as impassioned any other track; shuffle "It Takes Time" isn't quite as impressive but still shows how comfortable Gallagher is with straight blues. Brother/compiler Donal Gallagher's track notes are short but illuminating, and the remastered sound, although not as vibrant as on later reissues of Gallagher's catalog, is a big improvement over any existing version of this consistently superb album. © Hal Horowitz /TiVo
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Rock - Released March 1, 2003 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Although best known for his barnstorming blues-rock, Irish guitarist Rory Gallagher had a softer side, too. All of his studio albums contain at least one acoustic folk-blues track, and Gallagher included an unplugged set in the majority of his live shows way before that was fashionable. Almost eight years after his death, Rory's brother Donal compiled a 14-track collection of previously unreleased work dedicated to Gallagher's folkier approach. It's the second such posthumous album (the terrific live and very electric BBC Sessions came out in 1999), and focuses on an important if lesser recognized aspect of the guitarist's career. It's also an eclectic set that shifts from melodic ballads ("Wheels Within Wheels") to instrumental modified flamenco ("Flight to Paradise" with classical guitarist Juan Martin) and solo Delta blues (a studio take of Tony Joe White's "As the Crow Flies," the live version of which was a highlight of Irish Tour). And that's just the first three songs. Unreleased gems such as "Lonesome Highway" sound like classic Gallagher (this even features a plugged-in solo), but the disc is most successful when it unearths rare collaborations with Martin Carthy, Bert Jansch, and Scottish skiffle legend Lonnie Donegan. The latter is caught live on a rousing version of "Goin' to My Hometown," one of this album's many highlights. The heavily bootlegged "The Cuckoo," also finds official release in a stirring version assisted by Roland Van Campenhout on second guitar. Three live tunes with stripped-down accompaniment from Béla Fleck on banjo and harmonica master Mark Feltham find Gallagher running through a seemingly improvised medley of "Amazing Grace," Robert Johnson's "Walking Blues," and Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentucky," showing just how diverse Gallagher's tastes were. Established Gallagher fans will love this for the unusually laid-back setting, but Wheels Within Wheels might also attract a hardcore folk audience likely unaware of the rock guitarist's affinity for this genre. The varying sound quality is a little sketchy, especially on the concert tracks, but the sheer enthusiasm and joy infused in these grooves override any audio shortcomings. © Hal Horowitz /TiVo
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Blues - Released October 9, 2020 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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

Kicking off with the furious "Walk on Hot Coals" where Rory Gallagher's stinging guitar and Lou Martin's insistent piano pounding spar within the context of one of Rory's classic rockers, the album presents a well rounded picture of Gallagher's eclectic influences. A jaunty, acoustic run through Big Bill Broonzy's "Banker's Blues" (oddly credited to Gallagher), the ragtime "Unmilitary Two-Step" as well as an unusually straightforward country tune "If I Had a Reason" with Rory on lap-steel and Martin doing his best honky-tonk, effectively break up the blues-rock that remains the soul of the album. The album's centerpiece, a brooding "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" finds the band locked into a swampy groove for over eight minutes as Gallagher abbreviates his own solo providing room for Martin's aggressive piano. On "Hands Off" the guitarist even picks up saxophone, and he shows off his spooky Muddy Waters' inspired slide on the train chugging "Race the Breeze," one of the guitarist's best tunes. The final two bonus tracks tacked on for this reissue don't add much of interest; an early, shuffle version of "Stompin' Ground" lacks the tension of the song that later showed up as the only studio tracks on the live Irish Tour 1974 album, and Roy Head's "Treat Her Right" sounds like a soundcheck warm-up, which it probably was. Concise track-by-track liner notes from Rory's brother Donal provide useful background information, and the remastered sound taken from the original tapes is a revelation, with Gallagher's guitar parts and especially vocals, clear and precise in the spiffed up mix. © Hal Horowitz /TiVo
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Blues - Released October 28, 2013 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Booklet
Eighteen years after the death of Rory Gallagher, the incendiary Irish blues-rock guitarist and songwriter gets one of the most unusual tribute compilation packages in music history. Kickback City was conceived by Gallagher's brother Dónal to celebrate the guitarist's lifelong love of hard-boiled noir fiction -- he often cited its themes and references in his songs. Dónal recruited best-selling, award-winning crime novelist Ian Rankin (of the popular Inspector Rebus series) in a project that compiles studio and live performances by the guitarist that were directly inspired by the genre. To accompany the music, Rankin wrote a novella that liberally references Gallagher's titles and lyrics; entitled The Lie Factory, it too is enclosed. There is an audio reading of the novella by Aidan Quinn on a separate disc. The entire package was illustrated by Timothy Truman (DC Comics, the Grateful Dead, Santana, First Comics), a lifelong fan of the guitarist. [There is also a limited deluxe vinyl edition available from the artist's website.] © TiVo
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Blues - Released July 1, 1987 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Released five years after his last effort (an eternity for the prolific Irish blues guitar slinger who had been churning out at least an album a year throughout the '70s), Defender is another quality blues-rock offering. Although Gallagher is in fine tough form here and it was his debut release for his own indie label, there is little difference between this and some of his less stellar '70s albums like Top Priority and Photo-Finish. The pounding, guitar-heavy opener "Kickback City" sounds more like hairy rockers Bad Company than anything approaching the deep Chicago and country blues Gallagher dearly loved. The quality picks up substantially as the volume subsides on "Loanshark Blues," but by-the-books crunch-rockers like "Failsafe Day" and the unfortunately titled "Road to Hell" don't bode well for Gallagher moving out from an increasingly formulaic pigeonhole. There are a few corkers here like "Continental Op," a blazing riff that stands with Gallagher's best work and revisits his familiar cloak-and-dagger theme. The swampy, less abrasive "I Ain't No Saint" also pushes the quality up a few notches, as does his gritty version of Sonny Boy Williamson's "Don't Start Me to Talking," the bluesiest song on the disc and one of the few times he pulls out his greasy slide. "Seven Days" is the lone acoustic track and it's a good one, with piano and harp accompaniment and Gallagher singing like he means it as he takes the part of a criminal fleeing from the electric chair. The 2000 reissue adds a pair of rugged bonus tracks (along with a cleaner sound mix), which are actually better, or certainly as good as the best cuts on the rest of this competent but hardly essential Rory Gallagher disc. © Hal Horowitz /TiVo
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Blues - Released November 2, 1980 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Guitarist Gallagher's third officially released live album (during his lifetime) captures him on a grinding world tour in 1979 and 1980, pumping out blues-rockers with requisite aggression, yet none of the charm and subtlety that made his previous concert recordings so essential. The song selection is weak as it concentrates on lesser tracks from his late-'70s collections, but more problematically, the Irishman sounds like he's rushing the tunes and generally playing too loud. The arrangements bludgeon the songs behind a Wall of Sound, as Rory spits, rather than sings the lyrics, shouting above the crashing fray. This is particularly true of "Bad Penny," one of two newly added tracks for the revised 2000 edition, where Gallagher growls out the words as if they had little or no meaning, then shifts into a reggae beat that adds nothing to this version of one of his better tracks. While the live shows might have gone down well on-stage, when they're transferred to album, the excitement is lost, and instead of Gallagher's classy, snappy, eclectic mix of blues, folk, and rock, Stage Struck sounds like plodding, second-rate Bad Company or Foghat. Where both previous live discs added a few acoustic tunes as well as digging into deep blues to vary the sound and show Gallagher's versatility, this one stays firmly rooted in straightforward sluggish rock, with precious little roll. All the songs push the five-minute mark, but none have the sizzle and compactness of Gallagher's best work. He sounds like he's going though the motions for the first time in his career, making this a below par, if not quite valueless document. The two additional tunes total about 11 minutes, but the disc is at least 20 minutes short of its potential playing time. Surely there must have been other tapes from this tour of better quality to tack on here. In any case, this is a disappointing reminder that even the best artists can release inferior work. For prime live Gallagher, stick with either 1972's peppy Live in Europe, the blistering Irish Tour '74, or the terrific posthumous release BBC Sessions. © Hal Horowitz /TiVo
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Blues - Released May 31, 2019 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

The late Irish blues rocker Rory Gallagher would have been pleased to see the Chess logo embossed on the three-disc Blues, a box of rare, unissued, acoustic, and live recordings. Issued to mark what would have been his half-century as a recording artist, 90-percent of the material here is previously unreleased. The discs are divided thematically: Electric, Acoustic, and Live. The booklet is wonderfully annotated with an authoritative essay from journalist and music historian Jas Obrecht; it places Gallagher in his rightful historical place as an electric blues rock pioneer alongside admirers Eric Clapton, Johnny Winter, Jimi Hendrix, and Peter Green. The set opens with a raucous cover of Sonny Boy Williamson's "Don't Start Me Talkin'," an unissued cut from the sessions that begat the excellent 1982 offering Jinx. Gallagher is in full Chicago house-rocking mode with his wailing harmonica and nasty slide guitar, accompanied by pounding piano and a barely contained rhythm section shuffle. His songwriting is showcased to fine effect, too, with the slow-burning "Off the Handle" from a live BBC appearance in 1986, "Should've Learnt My Lesson," an outtake from the Deuce sessions in 1971 (a midtempo blues rocker steeped in the Celtic folk tradition), and an unhinged take of his "Bullfrog Blues" from a radio station appearance in 1972. Along the way, we get lean, mean covers of Tony Joe White's "As the Crow Flies," Green's "Leaving Town Blues," and two guest spots, "I’m Ready" with Muddy Waters in 1971, and "Drop Down Baby" with skiffle icon Lonnie Donegan from 1978. The second disc showcases Gallagher's considerable acoustic guitar playing and extremely effective singing, as well as his obsessions with Waters' slide playing and Jesse Fuller's and Big Bill Broonzy's rhythmically complex fingerpicking. Highlights include "Prison Blues" and Broonzy's "Bankers Blues" (both from the Blueprint sessions), the slide-tastic solo acoustic "Secret Agent" from a TV appearance in 1974, and a screaming solo take on John Lee Hooker's "Want Ad Blues" from a 1988 radio session. There are also several key originals, including the previously unissued "Whole Lot of People." The first three tracks from the live volume are drawn from a 1982 concert, with Gallagher's wrangling readings of Sonny Boy Williamson's "When My Baby Left Me," Jerry West's "Nothing But the Devil" and Willie Dixon's "What in the World" -- they’re fiery, direct, improvisational, and raw as hell. Junior Wells' "Messin with the Kid," culled from a 1977 Sheffield concert rocks like the MC5, as does Sonny Thompson's "Tore Down" from another show. There are three Gallagher guest spots, including "Born Under a Bad Sign" with Jack Bruce from 1991, "Comin’ Home Baby" with Chris Barber in 1989, and "You Upset Me" from Albert King's Live in 1975. All told, this box places Gallagher in his rightful place with his peers above, and as an influence cited by guitar slingers Brian May, Gary Moore, Johnny Marr, and Slash. Blues makes a final incontrovertible case for Gallagher's musical immortality. © Thom Jurek /TiVo