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Music Review: Rory Gallagher – Photo-Finish

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In 1978, the blues took fourth chair behind disco, hard rock and pop music, which meant that the erratic but often brilliant guitarist Rory Gallagher’s 1978 album, Photo-Finish, didn’t receive the press nor the sales it truly deserved, rising no higher than #116 on the Billboard Top 200 Charts. That’s a sin considering how brilliant his playing is on this terrific album.

When Gallagher died from complications due to liver transplant surgery in 1995 at the age of 47 his music did briefly receive a reappraisal. The latest reissues gives us a chance for a fresh listen to his music. On his own albums, Gallagher exhibited the same fire that burned when he played with others.

This is the fourth time Photo-Finish has been reissued on CD. Reverting back to a trio for this album after the four-piece lineup of Calling Card, the writing isn’t quite as sharp here, although the playing is. Reverting to a trio provided the added advantage of allowing the listener to focus much more on Gallagher’s instinctive and soulful playing.

The sound of his trio, with Gerry McAvoy on bass and Ted McKenna on drums, sounds tougher and more uncompromising even than do his previous releases, with highlights being the moody “Fuel to the Fire” and “The Mississippi Shrieks,” both of which clock in at over six minutes. Likewise, “Overnight Bag” features Gallagher playing acoustic guitar. He deepens and expands the sound with multiple overdubs of himself strumming away, bringing a different flavor when compared to the other songs on the album.

The mastering is good throughout, although not as good as the original CDs reissued in the 1980s, which had a warmer analog sound to them. The EQ choices here are a bit on the bright side as well but this is still an essential album regardless of some of the mastering choices, if only for the bonus tracks.

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