That incredible Sunday evening in July at the International Amphitheatre may not rival what happened in upstate New York less than a month later, but it changed one impressionable teenager’s musical tastes forever.
Not-so-fast forwarding forty years, Clapton this summer enjoyed a formidable reunion with Winwood, and their tour stop in Denver brought back a flood of musical memories. It was a no-brainer to keep following Clapton, who I’ve seen many times since in numerous venues, with multiple playing partners from Mark Knopfler to Doyle Bramhall II and Derek Trucks. Gallagher was the wild card, though. After providing a brief Taste of what was to come, he left the group and served up a prominent and rewarding solo career that satisfied hungry customers worldwide. Looking back with regret, I would have traded in a few of those Clapton concerts for one more chance to see Gallagher play live again.
Crest of a Wave helps put Gallagher's career in context by highlighting some of his best work off solo albums like Blueprint (“Walk on Hot Coals”), Calling Card (“Do You Read Me”), Photo Finish (“Shadow Play”) and Tattoo (“A Million Miles Away”). Those original albums, along with releases like Taste’s On the Boards, the landmark Irish Tour '74 and Live in Europe, remain in my collection, but the record player was dismantled long ago.
Fortunately, the digital age keeps Gallagher’s legacy alive, with most of his solo handiwork available, along with significant compilations, at iTunes and other online services such as the UK’s hmv.com and play.com. Unfortunately, Crest of a Wave doesn’t delve deeper into long lost tracks, hidden treasures or blasts from his Stratocaster past to enhance certain Taste buds. And his powerful live performances with the brilliant guitar solos, as much a trademark as those plaid flannel shirts with the rolled-up, gotta-get-back-to-work sleeves, are also missing.