Rory Gallagher – Check Shirt Wizard Live In '77
(Chess/UMC – 2020)
One guy I always regret not seeing live – Rory Gallagher – easily the finest Irishman to play the blues by far.
The G Man is caught here on this new live set that has been culled from gigs on the 'Calling Card 1977 UK Tour' in London (Hammersmith Odeon 18/01/77) , Brighton (The Brighton Dome 21/01/77), Newcastle (City Hall 18/02/77) and our very own city of Sheffield (City Hall 17/02/77)! As the bio states, the album have been mixed from the original multi-track tapes from the 'Gallagher Archive' that were originally recorded by The Rolling Stones and Jethro Tull's mobile studios and mastered at Abbey Road!
It goes on to state that the cover was done by local graffiti artist , Vincent Zara who has stencilled Rory's all over his home country. When it comes to the music on this 2CD (and 3LP set), there are plenty of H/L's on CD 1 include the opening balls-out 'Do You Read Me'; the gutsy stick in your head brilliance of 'Bought And Sold'; the riff to die for 'Tattoo'd Lady' and 'Walk On Hot Coal's with a snippet of The Beatle's 'I Feel Fine' thrown in there.
For me personally, CD 2 really has the best delights on offer like the mandolin only early turn of the 20th Century styled 'Barley & Grape Rag' that segues straight into the mind-blowing countriness of 'Pistol Slapper Blues' (by Blind Boy Fuller).
I especially like the Allman Brothers meets Lynyrd Skynyrd'ness of 'Edged In Blue' while 'Jack-Knife Beat' comes across like a funky blues number that Ronnie Wood forgot to write. Then there's the slidin' expertise in 'Souped-Up Ford' especially on the intro; the knock-out, epic lengthly version of 'Bullfrog Blues' where all the band shines immensely with their own solos whilst 'Country Mile' nails it off nice!
Rory lived and breathed every note he played on that beat-up Strat and every word he sang. The man was a one-off who is completely irreplaceable who had the finest musicians of equal calibre to back him too which right here comprises of the classic line-up of Gerry McAvoy (bass), keyboardist Lou Martin, and drummer Rod de'Ath.
He was a musician's musician or a guitarist's guitarist that many legends and icons hail and respect, not to mention influenced by that include the likes of Brian May, Johnny Marr and Ritchie Blackmore and Jone Bonamassa. He was such a humble guy with no edge as well. I would sincere love to hear the full sets from each gig!
Essential to all lovers of the man and the blues in general!
By Glenn Milligan