Despite radio's hex,
Rory Gallagher's back to what he does best
by Gary Weimer
"In a bar in Ireland, they can
pass the violin around to six different guys, and the guy with the bad
teeth, the bad suit and the torn shirt can probably whip the rest of
them, but he gets the respect."
Rory Gallagher is sitting around
drinking a Harp lager beer ("from the mainland") relating the "Irish
peasant" attitude that is part of his roots and tradition.
Roots are something important to
Gallagher. Growing up with early American blues and Irish folk music,
he got his first taste of success with a blues band called Taste. That
band folded after a U.S. tour with Blind Faith, and he went on to a
solo career that has spanned the last dozen years or so, and gives no
sign of weakening. Maintaining a solid blues foundation in his work,
Rory has been able to keep the freedom to do what he wants to do when
he wants to do it.
His latest Mercury Records release,
Jinx, is a statement to that very end. Realizing that his last LP, the
live Stage Struck, had taken on some "metallic" overtones, the staunch
Irishman and his band (Gerry McAvoy on bass and Brendon O'Neil on
drums) decided to record what they call a '60s R&B album. The stage
was set in Germany, where the guys dug through an old radio truck
assembling some old sound boards and microphones to record with.
A reaction against a sterile,
computerized sound, Rory calls the final product an "attempt to get the
sound that you used to hear in records before it was all computerized.
. . new material with the best of the old sounds." Where Europe caught
on to the warmth and vibrance of the record immediately, he notes that
the American radio market has missed his intention and has not given
him much consideration. His consolation to that fact is that the disc
is selling quite well and he's being very well-received in concert
(selling out the Park West on a night when the Who were at the
Horizon...no easy task).
Now that R&B seems to be making a
resurgence in the mainstream of music, Rory's music is suddenly
becoming more in vogue. As would be expected, he has a strong opinion
of the current trends. While he admits enjoying. artists like George
Thorogood, and the first Stray Cats LP, he is a bit put off by some of
the music coming out of the British Isles.
"None of (the British groups) give
America credit for musical roots," he says. " It's supposed to be white
rock 'n' roll, a strictly cold, Atlantic thing.... They've taken a sort
of Ray Davies/George Orwell stance and made it more bitter. I don't
like music for video's sake. If you can't cut it in a bar, you can't
cut it anywhere else. I don't believe in this drum machine and one guy
standing next to a synthesizer, and another guy looking at him."
Although he claims he's not a
workaholic, the humble guitarist always seems to be working. He's
presently dividing his time between doing his own dates and touring
with Rush, whom he enjoys working with both professionally and
personally. While he would rather play his own dates, Gallagher finds
the experience challenging and rewarding: "When you find yourself in a
huge arena in the middle of Boise, Idaho, you can't sit back on your
past accomplishments or rest on your laurels." His attitude has been
earning the band an encore a night opening up for Rush.
At the close of this latest tour, the
band (which currently includes keyboardist John Cook) returns to
England for some time off. Expressing a dislike for the sun, the spry
Irishman would relish the opportunity to stop in and see friends like
Buddy Guy and Junior Wells play or "do a Winnebago thing. Just pack an
amp and my guitar in the back and drive around playing bars." He'll
most likely do what he usually does, though, which is going to a few
movies, drinking a little beer and finally staying up late with his old
records and his guitar working on new material. As he puts it, "You
always end up back close to what you do best."
One project he has on the books now is
an album of acoustic music. Rather than just walk
in and record a collection of old blues songs with his Martin
six-string, Rory wants a blend of blues, original music and even some folk music (Irish, of course).
And when he says acoustic he doesn't just mean guitar, but also piano,
mandolin, dulcimer and double bass. He's looking forward to finishing
the project, but is waiting for the right material to develop: "You
only get the chance to do an album like this maybe once every 10 years,
so it's got to be right."
Looking to the future, he has a
positive outlook for music and life in general. "I think the '80's
aren't going to be sensational in terms of innovations or craziness,
but it's going to be like 'meat and potatoes'; get the job done, cause
the '70s were so affected. Now that there's a recession, the '80's are
really spanning out. You've got to be made to last nowadays. In the
'70s, the more chic and the more disposable it was, the bigger it was.
. . the boom can't go on. forever, so it's not bad for the human race
to tighten its belt here and there. It's like anything. Everything
can't be a total spree all the time, so it might not do us any harm. We
might come out the other side of this decade in better shape."
The recession, which Gallagher says
affects everyone to one degree or another, wasn't in evidence to the
packed house at his recent performance here in town.
After an exhausting show, which
included a pair of acoustic blues numbers, Gallagher fans coerced him
into playing encores for an additional half hour. There were no smoke
bombs, no paragons of decadence, and no fancy costumes - just a man and
his battered Strat putting his heart and soul into playing some of the
tastiest music around.
You couldn't ask for anything more. ************************************************************************************************ This
article comes from the December 1982 issue of Illinois Entertainer from
by roryfan. background is a mutated photo from