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

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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 14, 1972 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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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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Blues - Released February 18, 1973 | 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 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 November 11, 1973 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Blues - Released July 21, 1974 | 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 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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Blues - Released October 1, 1975 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Blues - Released October 24, 1976 | 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 October 1, 1978 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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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 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 September 16, 1979 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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