Rory Gallagher

The Beat Club Sessions

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The Rory Gallagher musical well isn't dry quite yet, as evidenced by this dozen-track collection of live-in-the-studio work from the early years of his solo career. This disc officially appeared in September 2010 and collects four tunes from three separate sessions recorded May 1971 through June 1972 for the German Beat Club TV series (a companion DVD was released simultaneously). The songs will be familiar to Gallagher fans, as most are available on his first few albums. All but Junior Wells' "Messin' with the Kid" and Sonny Thompson's "Toredown" (probably best known through Freddie King's version) are originals, played by his sturdy backing trio featuring Wilgar Campbell on drums and longtime bassist Gerry McAvoy. While there aren't many musical surprises, these versions are noticeably leaner and tougher than their associated studio performances. This also makes a logical companion piece to Gallagher's breakthrough release, Live in Europe, since it's recorded with the same band but only repeats four of its selections. The blues-rocker was young, hungry, and scorching hot during these years and Germany was one of the first countries where he found success. Numbers such as "Crest of a Wave," "Sinnerboy," "Used to Be," the aforementioned "Toredown" along with the acoustic "Just the Smile" and "I Don't Know Where I'm Going" don't show up often in concert versions, if at all, even with the plethora of live Gallagher material available, so clean, live recordings of them are a real find for fans. The guitarist hit his groove on these sessions, as can be heard on a surging "I Could've Had Religion," where his slide work simply burns. The song "Hands Up," caught here from the 1971 show, wouldn't appear on a studio title until 1973's Blueprint, although the arrangement didn't change markedly over the years. Gallagher rips into a seven-minute take on his slow blues "Should've Learned My Lesson" with the type of intensity Jimmy Page routinely displayed, and Campbell's drums have ferocity similar to John Bonham's. The sound is terrific for live music of the time -- full, rich, and well recorded, with every instrument easily identifiable in the mix but displaying all the rawness and crackling sparks that made Gallagher such an iconic figure in the history of blues-rock.

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