Oct 19 2013
In 1980 Rory set out on a 9-month tour of the U.S., Europe, Japan, and Australia in support of his latest album, “Top Priority”. Rory recorded many of the shows throughout the tour with the intention of releasing a live album. “Mobile units were used to capture shows in Ireland, France, the USA, Australia and England, which were then mixed at Air Studios in London and eventually released as the LP Stage Struck.” –Gerry McAvoy, Riding Shotgun The following is a reasonable facsimile of the 1980 Australian Tour Program from that World Tour. Thanks go to Glenn Shambrook for providing the scans of the Tour Program.
When the gods were making guitar heroes they didn’t bother giving Rory Gallagher any greasepaint or jive choreography with which to woo his fans. They knew to leave well enough alone — that being a guitarist who transcends mere technical pizzaz with a blazing, emotional style that not only brings the electric blues style into the Eighties, but leaves it reeling, would be more than enough. And there couldn’t be an unlikelier axe hero than the shy Irish guitarist, who plays with a fire most musicians are able to muster only on “good nights”. You get the feeling that they’re all good nights for Rory, that the thrill of playing his battered Strat is renewed every time he straps it on.
ACE is proud to announce the return to Australia of this legendary Irish rock and blues guitar master. Gallagher first toured Australia some four years ago, when he astounded audiences with his mastery of electric and acoustic guitars, slide guitar and with his dynamic stage performances. A guitar hero in the classic mould, Rory Gallagher is one performer not to be missed. The band consists of:
GERRY MCAVOY — Bass guitar
TED McKENNA — Drums
Rory Gallagher has always been at his best on stage in front of an audience. This is where his musical reputation has been built, and his concert appearances are marked by the incredible audience rapport with one of the most exciting performers in contemporary rock.
Rory Gallagher is the man who spearheaded the Irish rock movement. He has often been acknowledged as one of the finest blues musicians treading the boards: a guitar virtuoso and one of the finest slide players in the world.
There wasn’t much doubt where Rory was heading from the beginning. Born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, he moved at an early age to the town of Cork in the south-east corner of Eire and regards that as home.
He has been playing guitar almost forever. He bought his first real guitar when he was nine — it cost four pounds. It replaced an earlier plastic model from Woolworths, on which he had delighted friends and relations with hit by Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. He remember enjoying Elvis, Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry, and getting into blues the traditional second-hand way: hearing of Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie through skiffle player Lonnie Donegan.
Rory joined an Irish show band at the age of fifteen while attending school because it was the only way at the time to play consistently and keep himself in guitars and amps. With the Fontana Show Band, Rory was able to tour England and Ireland, atune himself to life on the road (which still doesn’t faze him) and play whole half-hours of Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, or whatever he pleased to. He did tire of having to play the rest of the band’s non-rock’n’roll repertoire, so after a short period of getting it together, he left to tour small clubs throughout Europe with the show band’s bass player and drummer.
Then in 1965, Rory formed the original “Taste”, a legendary Irish blues-based band comprised of Eric Kitteringham on bass and Norman Damery on drums. Taste played the clubs in Ireland and Germany, and while supporting groups that included John Mayall, Cream, and Aynsley Dunbar in Ireland, word got back to England that this power trio (formed before Cream) were hot.
The band made the big move to London in 1969, signed with Polydor and the Robert Stigwood agency, and cut two albums entitled “Taste” and “On The Boards”. It was their live appearances that set them apart, though: the result was their live release “Got Big Quick”. Although they were compared to Cream, Taste’s premise was more complicated; much more Jazz-oriented, with Rory picking up the saxophone for a few numbers.
Taste broke up in 1970, and by early 1971, Rory had formed a new band releasing the album “Rory Gallagher”, somewhat more complex and less raucous than the Taste albums, perhaps due to Rory’s 1969-70 jazz-oriented period.
At the same time, Rory was honoured by being one of the first sidemen chosen by his idol Muddy Waters for the “London Sessions” album. Rory and his band toured America in 1971, then cut two more albums: “Deuce” in 1971 and “Live In Europe”, a monster seller, in 1972. Then followed “Blueprint”, “Tattoo”, “Irish Tour ’74” (another hit, and no wonder, Rory being the consummate live musician) and “The Story So Far”, a compilation of some of Rory’s finer moments from the previous albums.
In 1975, Rory Gallagher signed with Chrysalis Records and released “Against The Grain” to the same critical acclaim that greeted his subsequent American tour. Rory’s second Chrysalis release, “Calling Card” was further indication that although he feeds off the energy of his enthusiastic audiences, he is perfectly capable of playing masterful guitar, both electric and acoustic, within the confines of the studio. Rory co-produced the album with former Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover.
In1978, Gallagher disbanded his band and pared his sound back to a three-piece to record the hard driving “Photo-Finish” album, with long time bassist Gerry McAvoy and former Sensational Alex Harvey drummer, Ted McKenna in support.
To measure the meticulousness with which Rory had been re-plotting his career, you have only to consider that his previous album,”Calling Card”, which in itself marked a slight change in musical direction, was released in October 1976.
The intervening period saw Gallagher cut down on touring substantially and return to Ireland for a re-think, then he came back to Britain for a brief tour which, in retrospect, can be viewed as a goodbye to a four-year period.
Shortly after the final concert of that tour, a raucous event at the London Hammersmith Odeon, Gallagher took time off and made his momentous decision. The time had come, he felt, to make a clean sweep. Drummer Rod DeAth and keyboard player Lou Martin would be departing but bass player, Gerry McAvoy, who has been at Rory’s side since the split with Taste, was to be retained.
The new album, “Photo Finish”, was originally to be released in 1977 and Rory had spent some time in California recording it with American producer, Elliot Mazer. Then came the news that the album would be delayed because Rory had damaged his hand in an accident. It became more apparent, however, that the reason for the delay was that the Irish guitarist was none too happy with the results and being something of a perfectionist, he decided that it should be re-recorded elsewhere.
In the middle of it all came the news that the band was to split and obviously, there would be no recording until Gallagher had settled for a new combination of backing musicians. Here he caused another surprise. Instead of expanding the band — there was even talk of a brass section at one stage — Rory decided to return to his original format, opting for a three-piece, guitar, bass and drums, which was how his band was in the beginning. To complete the trio, he picked up drummer Ted McKenna, formerly the solid backbone of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band. Rory’s career was back in full swing again.
The time came to re-record his new album and Rory searched for a producer. Eventually, he wisely decided on an engineer who could double as a producer and there was not better man available for the job than fellow Irishman, Alan O’Duffy, who had gained invaluable experience working with Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones. With that, band and producer/engineer, he headed for Germany. At the end of August Rory Gallagher completed recording “Photo-Finish” and this time was satisfied with the outcome.
In addition to recording with a new line up, Rory also was producing with fellow Irishman and engineer Alan O’Duffy (whose previous collaborations have included engineering with Wings and the Rolling Stones) and in a studio new to both, Dieter Dierks’ in Cologne, Germany.
The results showed him moving away from the jazzier inflections he had explored on “Calling Card” towards a more elemental hard rock sound, and constituted an achievement of remarkable poise and power, especially considering how fresh McKenna was to the band.
“Top Priority”, his fourth album for Chrysalis, shows Gallagher and band one year on, welded together by this stage, into as fierce and powerful a three-piece as has been our pleasure to hear: It also finds them completely at home in Dierks’ studio, with Alan O’Duffy at the controls.
With the combined skills of Rory and O’Duffy coalescing even more surely on production, never before has the guitarist found such a sympathetic setting for his musical genius. The directions suggested by “Photo-Finish” and particularly by tracks like “Shadow Play”, are taken to their logical peak here with a whole new collection of Gallagher classics. In addition to being surefire live killers, songs like “Follow Me” and “Philby” are also perfectly suited to radio play, and are so littered with hooks and immediately identifiable choruses that they’re potentially major hits in their own right.
Utterly without premeditation Rory captured the mood of the times and made what has the potential to become his biggest seller ever. This is rock music for now — and forever: it is both urgent and enduring.
There is a poetic justice in Gallagher’s realization of his mighty powers in this, his last LP of the 70’s in that blues music from which he has derived much of his inspiration, is more influential and creatively confident than at any time since the turn of the decade.
Rory himself has often been acknowledged as one of the finest blues musicians treading the boards: on guitar and among the finest slide players in the world, he has received the rare accolade of being invited to play with the people that he regarded as his own seminal influences, like blues master Muddy Waters, rocker Jerry Lee Lewis, and British skiffle pioneer Lonnie Donegan.
All his musical passions, form blues and R ‘n’ B to rock and roll and country music are fused in the playing on “Top Priority” — not to mention more esoteric flourishes such as the Gaelic tinged electric sitar on “Philby”. In addition his lyrics and vocals bear the stamp of authority, making this his most substantial album ever, as well as his most exciting.
Rory Gallagher is a man with history, starting with the pioneering days back in Ireland with Taste.
“Top Priority” as the title suggests, is a work of remarkable strength and immediacy. It is at once Rory Gallagher’s distillation of his achievements in the ’70’s and his manifesto for the 80’s. With music like this we’ll be coming back for more, every time.
As Rory explains himself, “When I listen to something, I like to be taken out of my seat and thrown across the room. I like guts, a good drive, which can include gentle stuff too. Whether it’s authentic or not or any other thing, if it sounds good and feels good, that’s it.”Share on Facebook