Feb 18 2012
News of Sony Music’s re-release of Rory Gallagher’s first six solo albums created quite a stir in the Rory fan community, with news flashes splashed across various magazines, e-zines, and blogs. Rory seems to be in the news a lot in recent years: from Slash stumping for Rory to get into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, to the release of various concert performances of Rory at the Montreux Jazz Festival, the German Rockpalast and German Beat Club, and to the well-received documentary by Ian Thuillier, Ghost Blues. We seem to be riding the crest of a very large wave of renewed interest in the Irish legend, and I for one intend to ride that wave for all its worth. I recently got the opportunity to interview Daniel Gallagher, Rory’s nephew and producer of the remastered albums for a small article I was doing for Rock Cellar Magazine. Below is the complete interview:
Riding the Crest of the Rory Wave
Shadowplays: Hi Daniel, thanks for taking time away from your busy schedule to answer a few questions about Sony’s re-release of Rory Gallagher’s first 6 solo albums. You had previously worked on the release of the “lost” album, “Notes from San Francisco” and also the Live at Montreux DVD’s. Was the Montreux 2-DVD your first foray into the “family business”?
Daniel Gallagher: Hi Milo it’s my pleasure. Yes my father asked me if I’d have a look at the Montreux tapes that Eagle Rock had borrowed from the Montreux Festivals archive and work out how a possible DVD might run. At the time I was touring with my old band but since we split in 2010 I’ve been working on all things Rory from the guitar books to Notes From San Francisco to Ghost Blues, etc.
Shadowplays: Those Montreux shows were dynamite. It was from watching Rory perform Shadow Play at Montreux that made me want to do my Shadowplays website. Such an incredible performance. You got to pick and choose which songs would make it on the 2-DVD release. That had to have been tough to do. I was curious as to why you chose the entire ’94 show for the second DVD? Despite Rory’s failing health I thought his ’94 performance was very strong. His voice just got bluesier don’t you think?
Rory at Montreux Jazz Festival, 1979
Daniel Gallagher: That version of Shadowplay is epic, I have no idea where Ted and Gerry get the energy to keep up with Rory. The Strat passing out and Rorys reaction to it are magic. When compiling that DVD I was a little hamstrung, I wanted to do the full 1975 show as I think the improvisation between the band is fantastic but the tapes were damaged so we could only use the 7 songs. I choose to put the full 1994 show as disc 2 as I felt Rory’s later performances hadn’t been documented and while he wasn’t as vibrant looking, as Irish Tour for instance, I felt his playing and spirit where really captivating. Also the jam with Béla Fleck I thought was a very special moment that should be shared.
Shadowplays: On that second dvd you also included some additional acoustic material from his earlier appearances at Montreux. During his 1975 visit to the Montreux Jazz festival, Rory also did a solo effort during the Friday “folk night”. Was this video available? It was also the night that he jammed with Larry Coryell, Steve Khan, Philipe Catherine, and John Martyn… and Claude Nobs on harp! Now that would have been something to see!
Daniel Gallagher: Yes I’ve heard of that folk night concert and have asked the Montreux archive if they have it but as yet I haven’t had any news. Rory was obviously having a good time that weekend as he also played with Albert King, which again, to get footage of that would be amazing.
Shadowplays: I liked the idea of releasing a Montreux audio CD too. I wish that the Rockpalast release had included an audio CD as well. Did you get to choose which songs were on the Montreux CD?
Daniel Gallagher: Yes I compiled that CD, I tried to vary it from the other live albums as best i could while also having a feel of a live set despite being from shows decades apart.
Shadowplays: So let’s talk about the new CD releases of Rory’s first six solo albums. How did the ball get rolling on this one? Did you approach Sony or did Sony see the success of recent releases like Notes From San Francisco and approach you?
Daniel Gallagher: Sony approached us saying they’d like to do something with the albums such as updating the artwork as the previous releases had been available for 10-12 years and they felt it could do with some freshening up. I thought if they were keen to do something with the records again that they should go back to the original mixes as I felt it would be unfair to the fans to encourage them to buy the same CDs but with a few more pictures etc. I also knew there’d been a few ‘issues’ from fans regarding the remixed releases so I felt going back to the originals would hopefully please everyone.
Shadowplays: The entire RG catalogue had just this past year been reissued through EagleRock. Why a second reissue in such a short amount of time? Isn’t this overkill?
Daniel Gallagher: Eagle Rock are the label for the Americas, previously BMG and then SonyBMG had the rights but we felt they did little to promote Rory’s music and a lot of the albums weren’t readily available in the States, many not even up on iTunes. When we licensed the catalogue to Eagle they wanted to re-establish Rory’s albums in-store and online so we re-released the catalogue with them. These new re-issues with Sony are for the territories they have the license for such as Europe and Asia, where like I mentioned no work had been done on these albums for 12 years. So while all the press releases and reviews that fans may read come across as one thing, these are very separate releases for different countries or ‘markets’ as the labels like to call them.
Shadowplays: Were the albums remastered from the original mixes, or are they the 1997/98/99 remixes? What about the gain on the new albums? Many of the diehard faithfuls thought the re-releases were way too loud.
Daniel Gallagher: The albums are new masters of the original Polydor era mixes. I took the original 1/4 inch tapes to two separate mastering engineers. One specifically for vinyl mastering the other for CD and digital. I understand your point about the previous releases being very loud and that is not the case on these at all, the mastering engineers made a point that these weren’t going to be pushed to extreme for volume.
Shadowplays: Glad to see the use of Digipaks instead of jewel cases on the CD release. It allows for more “stuff” including more artwork and liner notes. Are these the original liner notes, the 1999 re-releases, or new liner notes altogether?
Daniel Gallagher: Deuce has new liner notes by Donal for his insight on the songs, previously this was done by a friend of Rory’s and a record label A&R. For the Irish Tour ’74 liner notes I used the great Roy Hollingsworth article on Rory playing in Belfast when no-one else would as I felt it gave an insight as to what these gigs meant to people at the time. The other albums; Donal had already given all the information he knew about the record and individual songs so I felt these couldn’t be bettered and the Mick Rock notes for Live! In Europe are perfect and from the tour dates so should remain unchanged.
Shadowplays: Do the albums return to their original track sequencing and artwork? I see that Deuce is back to it’s original ordering and the bonus track has been removed. Good. There is no better way to end that album than with Crest of a Wave. (Besides … the bonus track “Persuasion” that had been used on the initial reissue was actually from the San Francisco sessions wasn’t it?)
Daniel Gallagher: Yes I felt it was important that the correct track sequencing was in place, I’m not sure what had happened on the previous releases (I was still in school!) but my whole idea for these releases was that they should be as close as is possible to Rory’s intention when originally released. Persuasion, when previously a bonus track, did come from the San Francisco Sessions, I think it was mixed without keyboards and less instrumentation to make it fit more with the Deuce three piece sound. Personally I felt, like you, that Crest Of A Wave should close the album and that Persuasion on Notes From San Francisco is how the song should be heard. I believe the other major track change is Just A Little Bit returning to Irish Tour 74 from Tattoo.
Shadowplays: Do the rest of the bonus tracks match up with the proper albums, i.e are they from the same recording sessions as the albums they were added to?
Daniel Gallagher: As for the other bonus tracks, Tucson, Arizona is from the Tattoo sessions. Back On My Stompin’ Ground and Just A Little Bit are soundcheck recordings from Irish Tour ’74, so are Stompin’ Ground and Treat Her Right on Blueprint. I believe the bonus tracks on Live In Europe and Rory Gallagher are from radio / studio sessions recorded around the time of each album.
Shadowplays: Speaking of bonus tracks, I’m curious why Cluney Blues was used on Against The Grain. Although it’s from the same recording sessions, it was just a test song to get recording levels, why not use Lonesome Highway instead?
Daniel Gallagher: I don’t know the story for this as I wasn’t involved in those releases, though I do think Cluney Blues is a great number, it’s nice to hear Rory’s humour come through on record.
Shadowplays: Yes, Robin Sylvester, the original engineer for Against the Grain, said the he always tried to catch a bit of Rory banter and save it secretly on another track.
Daniel Gallagher: That’s the only draw back I noticed of the original mixes, on Deuce it doesn’t have Robin saying ‘Flawless!’ to Rory at the end of Crest Of A Wave, I love that moment but I imagine Rory might have thought it too self gratifying back in 1971.
Shadowplays: I like it too, but yeah Robin said that Rory always nixed that kind of stuff. When I persuaded Robin (a devout “vinylist”) into listening to the previous “Crest of a Wave” remix he was surprised and thrilled to hear his and Rory’s voice at the end of the song.
I’m glad to see the live albums return to their original titling: Irish Tour ’74 instead of Irish Tour, and Live! In Europe instead of “Live”. I had heard that the changes in the titles of the live albums on previous reissues were done because including the year “74” would make the Irish Tour album sound dated, and that including the phrase “In Europe” made Live! In Europe too provincial for the U.S market.
Daniel Gallagher: Sorry I’m not sure why they changed the titles maybe it was the labels idea but again I thought everything should return to the original release details.
Shadowplays: The vinyl addition will be released on February 20? Will the bonus tracks be omitted?
Daniel Gallagher: Yes there won’t be bonus tracks on these, I felt that audio quality was more important than cramming the bonuses on the vinyl.
Shadowplays: I guess what us vinyl guys really want to know is, will the new vinyl releases sound just like our old lps but without all the fizz, crackle, and pops that have been acquired over the years?
Daniel Gallagher: I hope so! I used a great vinyl engineer (who did the mastering for the Notes From San Francisco vinyl) and the source is the same as Rory mastered from 40 years ago so bar slight EQ differences, that differing mastering engineers might hear, the vinyls should be skip free versions of your old collection.
Shadowplays: Will the remainder of the Rory catologue be reissued in this way?
Daniel Gallagher: The plan at present is to do the same with the Chrysalis released albums so Against The Grain through to Stage Struck. I need to investigate how much remixing went on and how different the original releases are from the 1998 reissues and whether Jinx should be added. I imagine Defender and Fresh Evidence are the same as the original release so I’m not sure if I’ll do these. I know a big issue (for myself as well) is the missing bridge vocals to Ain’t Too Good on Against The Grain and that will definitely be rectified.
Shadowplays: How close are you to reissuing the Taste material?
Daniel Gallagher: I’ve been chasing Universal (Polydor) to try and re-ignite the interest in a comprehensive Taste release with the albums re-mastered + bonus material. As I’m sure you’re bored of hearing I am trying everything to get the Isle Of Wight film made, Murray Lerner and I have come up with a concept for how we’d like to present it and have got very close to a workable fee for the DVD to be made. It’s only being held up by confirmation from a label that they want to finance and release it.
Shadowplays: That sounds very encouraging! For many of us, Taste at the Isle of Wight is the Holy Grail of Rory video and we’ve been clamoring for it for years. Murray has done numerous individual “Isle of Wight” documentaries including: Hendrix, Tull, and The Who, and most recently the Moody Blues and Leonard Cohen. How’s the quality of the Rory stuff? How much footage does he have? (I hear 7 tracks)
Daniel Gallagher: From what I’ve seen the Taste footage is great, Murray made an edit in 1995 so I’m sure the footage can be further enhanced since then as well. I don’t think he has the full hour and half set that Taste played on film but the edit I’ve seen has 7 tracks (you have good sources) but I’m hoping we can find more footage as he has a lot of tapes to go through.
Shadowplays: What else is on the Rory Horizon? Any more live material making its way its way an official release?
Daniel Gallagher: I recently dug out the Irish Tour multi tracks (from Cork City Hall) and found around 10 other tracks including an 11 minute version of Hands Off and the acoustic set that Rory did. I’d like to put together all this for maybe for a proper 40th Anniversary edition of the album for 2014.
Shadowplays: There are so many great soundboards of Rory’s shows. Any thoughts to streaming some of these live concerts through the website? Or selling hard copies via the official online store?
Daniel Gallagher: Yes I’ve been looking into building a site for all the other recordings / bootlegs etc to stream or download and Sony have just told me that they have a new platform called myplay.com where we might host everything on a Rory myplay page. The advantage of this is that you can also order physical copies as well as download for those who prefer the physical format.
Shadowplays: These past few years have been a godsend for us Rory fanatics, with more CD’s and DVD’s coming out these past 4-5 years than in the previous ten before that. You’ve been a great help to Donal in getting more and more Rory content out there. I’d like to say thank-you for all that you’ve done, and thanks for taking the time to answers these questions.
Daniel Gallagher: My pleasure, it’s been very fun working on the releases and gives me a lot of pride seeing Rory’s music being so well received by everyone.Share on Facebook