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Rory Gallagher Tattoo Review

Album. Released 2012.  

BBC Review

The perfect introduction to a guitar legend and a feast for hardened fans.

Greg Moffitt 2012

Until his untimely death in 1995 aged just 47, Rory Gallagher gave the world a unique brand of blues rock which could bounce from barnstorming to bewitching to just plain beautiful with but a flick of the great man’s wrist. Celebrating 40 years since the start of his solo career, Rory’s first six albums have been overhauled, lovingly re-mastered and completed with liner notes from, amongst others, brother and former tour manager Donal Gallagher.

The 1970s was a particularly prolific time in Rory’s long career and it’s testament to his skill and imagination that Rory Gallagher (1971), Deuce (1971), Live! In Europe (1972), Blueprint (1973), Tattoo (1973) and Irish Tour ’74 (1974) are of such outstanding quality. He toured constantly throughout this period and it’s miraculous just how he found time away from the stage to write so many great songs. Tattoo is perhaps the pick of the bunch: a near-perfect document of the powerful, passionate performances that placed Rory in a league of his own. You’ve only got to glance at the list of guitarists that cite him as an influence – The Edge, Slash and Johnny Marr, to name but three – to realise just how special this guy was.

Rory really did let his guitar do the talking, lighting up the fretboard with one blistering lick after another. Never, however, did he feel the need to resort to histrionics in his efforts to dazzle and delight. Rory could hold his own with any of the axe-wielding giants of the day – indeed, he was linked to Deep Purple after Ritchie Blackmore quit – but even at its weightiest, Tattoo is always disciplined and tasteful. Where others wring the life from their instruments, Rory teases his trusty 61 Strat until it sings.

From the laidback vibe of opener Tattoo'd Lady, the raunchy riffing of Cradle Rock and Admit It to quieter moments such as the acoustically driven 20:20 Vision, this is a scintillating showcase for Rory’s mastery of his craft. His backing band are none too shabby either, long-time bassist Gerry McAvoy lining up alongside keyboardist Lou Martin and drummer Rod de'Ath for the kind of locked-in session that still oozes excitement even after all these years. A bonus cover of Link Wray’s Tucson, Arizona rounds off what’s both the perfect introduction to a guitar legend and a feast for hardened fans.

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