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Gallagher, Rory: Notes From San Francisco

Notes From San Francisco is Eagle Rock's new release of the long-lost original 1977 sessions for what ultimately became the Calling Card and Photo-Finish albums. What happened was that Rory Gallagher and the band returned from a long tour of Japan and went directly into the studio in San Francisco with producer Elliot Mazer (who had worked with Neil Young, The Band, and Big Brother & the Holding Company) to work on a new album. After a few months in the studio, Gallagher became disenchanted with the results, and shelved the album along with members of the band, deciding instead to go back to the drawing board with a trio.

While you'll recognize some of the songs here, they sound pretty different from what they eventually morphed into on subsequent albums. With keyboards, violin, and reeds added to the mix, there's a lot going on throughout these gritty blues rock pieces, which in the end is what irritated Rory. Listening to these songs now, you can't help but be impressed and scratch your head as to what all the tension was all about. "Rue the Day", "Mississippi Sheiks", "Persuasion", and "B Girl" are all fantastic tracks, complete with rich & full arrangements, powerful vocals, and Gallagher's scorching guitar work. Blues, rock, folk, and country influences abound, which should come as no surprise to fans of the late guitar legend. "Overnight Bag" is a rousing heavy rocker with a great melodic vocal, "Cruise On Out" a frenetic blues-rock shuffle with some sizzling licks, and the classic "Brute Force & Ignorance" highlights a wealth of crunchy riffs, searing solos, booze drenched vocals, and honky tonk piano. The guitarist pulls off a wonderful psych-rock gem here in the form of "Fuel to the Fire", complete with atmospheric arrangements and molten blues-rock solos. Brilliant stuff. On "Cut a Dash", the band come close to Taste or Cream territory, as this one is a smokin' hot slice of heavy blues rock, and "Out on the Tiles" is fast paced hard rock that will have you playing air guitar along to the distorted licks. Ultimately this studio album is a fantastic listen, and it's a shame this recording hasn't seen the official light of day until now.

Over on CD2, you get a blistering live set recorded at San Francisco's The Old Waldorf in December of 1979, shortly after shelving the studio album and regrouping with the trio that included Ted McKenna on drums and Gerry McAvoy on bass. Though Rory Gallagher has many memorable and classic live albums, you can certainly add this one to the mix. Featuring wild versions of staples such as "Follow Me", "Tatoo'd Lady", "Shinkicker", and "Shadow Play" among others, this is the Irish guitarist at his most ferocious, with his Fender Stratocaster just spewing white hot torrents of molten note after note. Just get a listen to the amazing "Off the Handle", as Rory is just setting the world on fire with his guitar. Jimi Hendrix once claimed that Rory Gallagher was the best guitarist on the planet-well, after you listen to these live recordings, you'll nod your head and begin to understand why the late, great Hendrix felt that way. Scorching, sizzling, emotional, all ways to describe the performance of Gallagher on these live cuts. This is heavy blues-rock the way it was meant to be played. The quality of the recordings is pretty good too, so kudos to Rory's brother Donal for unearthing these and getting them released in this package.

As for the package itself, Eagle Rock has put together a great booklet with lovely shots of San Francisco, and original notes from Rory that also include lyrics. For the die-hard Rory Gallagher fan, Notes From San Francisco will be a revelation and a must have CD for your collection.

Track Listing
1. Rue The Day
2. Persuasion
3. B Girl
4. Mississippi Sheiks
5. Wheels Within Wheels
6. Overnight Bag
7. Cruise On Out
8. Brute Force & Ignorance
9. Fuel To The Fire
10. Wheels Within Wheels (Alt version)
11. Cut A Dash
12. Out On The Tiles

1. Follow Me
2. Shinkicker
3. Off The Handle
4. Bought And Sold
5. I'm Leavin'
6. Tattoo'd Lady
7. Do You Read Me
8. Country Mile
10. Shadow Play
11. Bullfrog Blues
12. Sea Cruise

Added: June 5th 2011
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Artist Website
Hits: 1960
Language: english

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