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Albums Of The Week: Rory Gallagher | Rory Gallagher 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition

The immortal Irish blues guitarist's solo debut make a turbocharged return.

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What could be better than a newly remixed and remastered version of immortal Irish blues-guitar hero Rory Gallagher’s blazing 1971 solo debut? How about an expanded version that includes two discs of alternate takes and leftovers full of his incredible fretwork and muscular vocals, two high-voltage live sets by his power trio taped for BBC Radio, a live DVD and a box full of goodies? Yeah, that’ll work. The only thing that would be even better? If this were the first instalment in a series. Fingers crossed.

 


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Released to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Rory Gallagher’s eponymous 1971 debut solo album, this five-disc deluxe box set includes a brand-new mix of the original tracks, 30 previously unreleased outtakes and alternate takes, a six-song 1971 BBC Radio John Peel Sunday Concert, plus four 1971 BBC Radio Sounds of the Seventies session tracks, all mastered at Abbey Road Studios.

Also included is a previously unreleased 50-minute DVD of Rory’s first solo concert which was filmed in Paris for the Pop Deux television show. The extensive box set will also contain a 32-page hardback book with rare and previously unseen photographs from photographer Barrie Wentzell, essays and liner notes by his brother and manager Donal Gallagher and longtime bass guitarist Gerry McAvoy (1970-1991), a full 1971 interview with Rory by journalist Roy Eldridge, and memorabilia from the album recording including hand-written song lyrics and an exclusive limited-edition poster.

The debut album features some of the most beloved Rory songs, such as I Fall Apart (his second-most-streamed song), Laundromat and Just The Smile. While reviewing numerous tapes during the 2021 mixing sessions, two songs were added to the collection: the previously unreleased At The Bottom, a track Rory ended up re-recording for his 1975 Against The Grain album, plus Advision Jam, a rocking instrumental. The recording saw Gallagher on guitar and lead vocals as well as alto sax, harmonica and mandolin, with Gerry McAvoy on bass and Wilgar Campbell on drums. Atomic Rooster’s Vincent Crane plays piano on two out of the 10 songs on the original album: Wave Myself Goodbye and I’m Not Surprised.

At the time of these recordings, Rory had not played live since his previous band Taste disbanded on Oct. 24, 1970. When this eponymous solo album was released in May 1971, he embarked on a 16-date U.K. tour that included 10 days touring Ireland and a short jaunt in Switzerland.

Recorded at the legendary Advision Studios in Fitzrovia, London, Gallagher’s eponymous debut album showcases the Irish guitarist as a multifaceted interpreter of the blues with a cross-section of the blues from acoustic to heavy blues soul. Advision was one of the hottest recording studios in the ’60s and ’70s and home of classic albums recorded by The Yardbirds, The Who, The Move, T. Rex, David Bowie, Kate Bush, Elton John, Slade, Gentle Giant, Gerry Rafferty and many more.

If ever there was a “musician’s musician,” accolade belongs to Gallagher. Renowned for his blistering live performances and highly respected for his dedication to his craft, he died in 1995, aged just 47. His reputation has continued to flourish in the years since. Indeed, some of rock’s most seminal figures, from Jimi Hendrix to Eric Clapton, Joe Satriani to Joe Bonamassa, Queen’s Brian May to The SmithsJohnny Marr, Slash of Guns N’ Roses to The Edge of U2, have cited him as an influence. Gallagher remains a touchstone for all would-be guitar heroes in the 21st century.