If you fancy getting back to basics, Rory was, and always will be, yer man.
Chris Jones 2004
Remastered for 5.1, this is the first real attempt to put together a coherent picture of the career of the guitar slinger from County Donegal, and very welcome it is too. Gallagher was possibly the the most straightforward man in a business filled with inflated egos and wrong-headed assumptions about celebrity. He spent his entire life following his first love -the blues - and legends abound about the plaid-shirt-wearing dude with his battered old strat and his dedication to nothing more fancy than a drink and treading the boards.
In fact it's Rory's live work that's key to understanding his appeal. Until this package arrived you would have been best picking up either Live In Europe or Irish Tour 74 to really sample the man in his purest form. This double set is liberally sprinkled with such moments though in rarer form and stretching back to his pre-solo days with power trio Taste. But the live favourites are all present and correct: ''Bullfrog Blues'', ''Going To My Hometown'' (with its frantic mandolin) and ''Messin' With The Kid''. Here we see how a life almost constantly on the road honed his stripped-down formula to something incredibly, joyfully raw. ''Bullfrog Blues'' features some of the rudest slide work ever committed to tape, and this from a man who was such a purist that he frowned on the use of any effects pedals.
Of course this set also gives us a fair representation of his studio work too. Raised on country blues and R 'n' B, Gallagher's technique and style was impeccable and also much more than a bar room 12-bar competence. As already mentioned he was adept on the mandolin and slide, and tracks such as ''Just The Smile'' (from his first album) and ''Out On The Western Plain'' reveal a sensitive acoustic technique. ''They Don't Make Them Like You Anymore'' even demonstrates a canny understanding of jazz shapes!
Any aficionado will grumble at omissions. This reviewer regrets the lack of ''Laundromat'' (from Live In Europe) and ''Cradle Rock'' (from Tattoo), yet as an overview it works just fine. If you fancy getting back to basics, Rory was, and always will be, yer man.