1979 was a strange time for blues fans with the genre being overshadowed by a variety of older and newer styles. Punk had led to the explosion of New Wave, which left blues purists like Rory Gallagher without an outlet for pulling in new fans when it came to radio play.
Top Priority Gallagher’s 1979 release benefited from being released on the heels of his tour to support Photo-Finish. Although it followed that album in rapid succession there isn’t any indication of fatigue on the part of Gallagher when it comes to his playing; his tasteful, bluesy work here continues to mine new depths with a renewed sense of power and emotional intensity evident from the first note of “Follow Me” to the last one of “Public Enemy No. 1” (the latter continuing Gallagher’s fascination with American gangster mythology).
The main flaw of Top Priority is the lack of diversity that was evident on his previous releases. This is where a keyboard player or second guitarist might have been of benefit giving the album a richer, more diverse sound. Where are the acoustic numbers that broke up the harder-charging blues numbers and provided a nice contrast on his previous albums?
The mastering here is the same as the previous reissue in 1997. Since the original mixes for this album have been out of print for over a decade it would have been a nice to include some of those as bonus tracks or on a bonus disc here. There’s nothing wrong with Tony Arnold remixes except that they differ from what was originally released in 1979 and for the first CD issue of this album. Those original mixes differed enough to provide a slightly different flavor and had a warm analog feel missing from this edition.
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