For addicts only
"Top Priority"  (Chrysalis  CHR 1235)
When Rory Gallagher toured Britain at the beginning of the year, he played some extremely lively gigs, and after witnessing his performance before a packed Marquee audience, my faith was restored in the Irish guitarist.

addictspic.jpgIn those concerts, numbers from the then-current "Photo-Finish" album, along with a selection of Gallagher standards, came across with so much more vitality than they ever had on vinyl. It was a joy to watch one of the truly great "guitar heroes" in action, and to observe that he is still one of the most talented axemen in the business.

This month, however, sees the arrival of another studio album, "Top Priority" which sadly adheres to the pattern of his past few releases, featuring a couple of ace cuts alongside some songs of merely average quality.

The album kicks off with a winner in "Follow Me" but, alas, then gradually slides downhill over the ensuing eight compositions.

The dramatic opener does for "top Priority" what "Shadow Play" and "Moonchild" did for "Photo-Finish" and "Calling Card" respectively, being an up tempo affair laiden with riffs and highlighted by a pair of lightning guitar solos. Here Rory sings in more refined manner, avoiding the style of the gruff blues vocals which dominate the majority of the remaining tracks.

As with all Rory Gallagher albums, the sound of the electric guitar shines through more than any other instrument, and there's certainly some very tasty axework - especially on the blues based "Keychain", where he lets his fingers loose on the fretboard like an express chain, and "Off the Handle", which features a fiery solo enhanced by powerful sustain.

The songs themselves, however, never really match the magic of the guitar playing. Indeed, the aforementioned "Off the Handle", without its hot lead, would simply be another "i'm just a lonely blues guitarist from outta town" tune with Gallagher singing in that ghastly Johnny Winter style he often adopts.

Thus, "
Top Priority" is only basically a must for hard-core Rory Gallagher fans, for I doubt whether it will attract many new followers. One can be sure though, that when Rory returns to Britain for another tour, these new songs will be performed with a different dimension and much more force. A cue for a live album, perhaps?

This article come from the 8/25/79 issue of Melody Maker
Thanks to Lotte Lieb-Dula for sending this article
reformatted by roryfan
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added 1/14/08