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Music DVD Review: Rory Gallagher – Irish Tour ’74

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Rory Gallagher is becoming one of the forgotten guitar gods. During his lifetime, the Irish guitarist sold in excess of 30 million albums and developed a rabid following, especially in Europe. His untimely death in 1995 at the age of 47 cut short the career of one one the better guitarists of the last three decades of the 20th century.

After playing in a number of bands as a teenager, he formed The Taste in 1966. It was a rock/blues power trio and brought Gallagher some commercial success and attention. During the early 1970’s he embarked upon a solo career which lasted until his death.

During the 1970’s and beyond, Ireland was a hotbed of political and religious unrest. Despite the inherent dangers, though, Gallagher would tour in his native country every year. This would make him a huge star in Ireland, a status he would keep for the rest of his life.

Irish Tour ’74 has appeared a number of times in the past. It now returns in a pristine DVD form. The picture is far superior to the original release. The production team has literally worked miracles with the now 35-plus-year-old tapes. A half-hour documentary has been added, which features five more live tracks. Throw in some Japanese home footage for good measure and you have some interesting, satisfying extras.

His 1974 tour was during a time when he carried a keyboardist to augment his basic power trio. His accompanying musicians at the time were drummer Rod de’Ath, bassist Gerry McAvoy, and keyboardist Lou Martin.

Gallagher always had something of the smoky and sweaty lounge singer in him. Whether it was blues/rock fusion, straight blues, or boogie rock, he always performed hard and for the audience. Sometimes it’s the little things that make a release seem authentic, which is illustrated during “Going To My Home Town,” as he breaks a string on his mandolin but carries on regardless.

He gives two of his own songs an extended work-out with a lot of guitar improvisation along the way. “Tatoo’d Lady” and “A Million Miles Away” prove that he could create blues numbers as well as cover them.

Tracks such as “Walk On Hot Coals,” “What’s That Coming,” “As The Crow Flies,” “Hands Off,” and “Bullfrog Blues” present his acoustic side plus find him boogieing into the night.

Irish Tour ’74 is close to two hours of Rory Gallagher at his best. He was always more adept live on stage than in the studio. It is a fine introduction to one of rock’s oft forgotten guitar superstars.

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