(Post by Colin ‘Jackie’ Jackson of Glasgow –October 2021)
The first item to be inducted into the Once Upon a Time in The ‘70s Hall of Fame is my copy of the ‘Live In Europe,’ LP by Rory Gallagher. (I’m nothing if not predictable.)
I don’t know why, but I bought this for the going rate of around £2.25 (in postal orders) via some mail order record store advertised in Sounds magazine. I can vividly remember the excitement I felt whenever I came home from school. For about ten days, I was disappointed, but then it arrived … with a note stating my remittance was (I think) about 25p short. Yet the nice, ever so trusting people at the record store just asked I send another postal order with my next order.
However, by the time I‘d saved enough from my paper round to buy my next LP, I’d discovered Listen Records and Virgin Records in Glasgow. I never did order from the MO store again.A few months later, I read in Sounds, the company had gone bust! Was it my 25p that sent them over the edge?
I’ve carried that burden of guilt now for forty-nine years!
The record itself, though: this was ‘big boys’’ music!
A mix of self-penned and rearranged standards, the seven tracks blew me away with their intensity. Driven by the furious bass playing of Gerry McAvoy, and crashing drums of Wilgar Campbell, Rory’s searing Stratocaster playing cuts through like a knife. His playing has everything – little flecks of jazz inspired backing to his quieter vocal moments; big, chunky heavy riffs, like in his own composition, ‘Laundromat,’ and of course, the blues! Whether it be fast and loud as in the opening’ ‘Messin’ With The Kid’ or the slower, almost metronomic ‘I Could Have Had A Religion,’ Rory pre-empted, and answered, the query posed by Deacon Blue, seventeen years later: yes – not only can a white man sing the blues, he can damn well play them too!
Yet, though heavily blues influenced, ‘Live In Europe’ has such a variation in sounds that it remains fresh and exciting from start to finish – even after almost fifty years of regular play!.
‘Pistol Slapper Blues’ is an acoustic cover of Blind Boy Fuller’s song from ‘nineteen twenty something or other,’ as Rory himself says; ‘Going To My Home Town’ is one of Rory’s own compositions – a real stomper of a track, the famous Strat being swapped for a mandolin. ‘In Your Own Town’ is another of Rory’s, this time almost ten minutes of heavy blues and spectacular guitar playing. Album closer is ‘Bullfrog Blues,’ another ‘traditional’ blues song written the Twenties and re-arranged by Rory. It’s a truly explosive ending, with terrific bass and drum solos thrown in for good measure.
The production and sound quality is top notch, something that can’t be said for many ‘Live’ albums and I can attest the album truly replicates the sound and atmosphere of a Rory concert.
Not only was ‘Live In Europe’ my proper introduction to heavy rock, it also took me down the rabbit hole of blues music – a tunnel I am still exploring. It’s influenced my music of choice from a spotty fourteen year old to grumpy old git, and remains the most treasured record in my collection.
It unequivocally deserves a place in the Hall of Fame.