Gallagher: Full Blooded Gallagher
DURING A RECENT trip to America I was able to watch Rory Gallagher work
at that musical pit of iniquity known as 'The Whisky A Go Go' on Sunset
Strip where so many good British bands have faltered before a crowd of
'tequila sun-risers' who believe they have seen it all before. He
produced a full blooded set which got even the blasé West
Coasters on their feet cheering.
He's 'The Working-man's Guitarist' - a street level musician who
manages to combine an intuitive feel for blues with a gut-level
approach to rock and roll which keeps his music both emotionally
exciting and direct.
been said before of course, but 'performance' is really what Gallagher
is about - and although we have had a number of interesting and varied
albums from him, nothing yet has captured the essence of his stage
stage he slogs, sweats and showers sparks that eventually build to an
explosive finale. However, although he has yet to produce a dud album,
most of his recording has given the impression of being controlled and
refined without fully capturing that essential spontaneity.
does claim however, that his next album 'may not be the best but it is
the newest!' He believes that it exploits the promise of Blueprint, but
has a livelier quality.
we talked recently, the conversation turned to religion, and some of
Billy Graham's recent pontification on the Irish troubles, about "the
devil being at work in Belfast and being everyone's responsibility to
stop the bombings! "
we didn't know that," mumbled Gallagher. "Sometimes I wonder about
these preachers in their Cadillacs and gurus in their Rolls Royces - I
wonder how much contact they really have with the people and the
is a Catholic, and refuses to be drawn further on the subject of
religion and politics, believing apparently that musicians should stick
to talking about music. I pushed him on the subject of personal
information and significantly got nowhere.
really don't lead a very spectacular life and so it is really more
interesting to ask me about my music and my guitar ... I haven't many
interesting things to say about myself that I would want printed."
not married, lives on his own, with one home in Cork and one in
England, and has a car, but can't drive. And that was all. Another mind
probing and incisive character analysis bites the dust. What interests
Rory? Music. What motivates Rory? Work.
been playing guitar since I was nine. I just enjoy playing. It's not
work to me - it's making music. I want to be on the road when I'm fifty
playing to people.
like Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters are still working why shouldn't I?
It's what I enjoy most.
another reason why I am so scared of that super stardom propaganda. I
don't want to be elevated to the kind of level where I become a cult
figure - someone like Bob Dylan who virtually had to stop working. I
don't want to do it all, so to speak, in just a short space for a few
years. I have a life-time.
course I want to develop and widen my market to reach people who have
not heard me, but I want to do it my way. It may take longer to get
around to playing for everyone, but I'm convinced it is the right way
and the lasting way.
could turn to my record company now and say right 'Operation Gallagher'
is on and they might make me a giant by Christmas. I think if I wanted
that it could be done.
may take me ten years to do things my way which a promotional hype
could do in a few months. It's not an obsessional thing, because there
are compromise situations. I mean, I do make records and I do
interviews because I don't want to be a non-success. I want a balance
which suits me.
I'm saying is really not all that extraordinary if you think about it
because I want to lead a normal and sane existence.
"I want to be
able to go to pubs, restaurants and places without feeling I am a
freak. I want to go into the bar next to the gig and be able to talk to
people. I can. I do. Once you get to a super-star status and your whole
life swings out of control - normalcy gets lost. All that running from
Rolls Royce to Rolls Royce and hiding from people ...
are things I want of course, but most of them I have - nice guitars,
equipment etc ... and the other motive is to improve, communicate and
reach more people, but it would be nice to do that in a dignified
of Tattoo and Rory's earlier promise that if this was not 'The One' he
would chuck the tapes in the dustbin? "What I meant by that was that I
was determined to - give it some time and not let a tour get in the way
- not let anything get in the way. I wasn't going to be rushed into an
early release date.
is properly scheduled. We will have it out in mid-October and be
touring by mid-November so people will have had time to familiarise
themselves with the tracks and digest the material.
are nine original numbers and the title track 'Tattooed Lady', which is
about the kind of travelling fair we still have in Ireland - tattooed
ladies and bearded babies!
is an acoustic blues, a road song (which sounds like a cliché
but isn't). It's fairly meaty stuff. It has a better sound and more
atmosphere than Blueprint. It was recorded here and rehearsed at
leisure in Cork."
is one of the few musicians I have come across who unashamedly admits
to early Lonnie Donegan influences.
never been able to understand why more people haven't credited him with
popularising folk blues and country music," he said. "He helped so many
young kids into an idea of making their own music and turning them on
to obscure and neglected folk and blues artistes ..
funny really because I mentioned once or twice in interviews that he
was one of my early influences and it came out O.K. in New York papers.
But I arrived somewhere in the Mid-West and picked up a paper which
read "Rory Gallagher, who had a big hit with 'Does Your Chewing Gum
Lose It's Flavour', is in town tonite". I nearly cried. Just as well
Lonnie never saw it."
Keith Altham, NME,
13 October 1973
reformatted by roryfan