Rock: Rory Gallagher

CREAM, the band that became rock's most influential “power trio,” inspired countless lesser bands to play loud, blues-based music with improvisational extensions during the late 1960’s and early 70’s. In the typical trio of the period, the guitar was thunderously amplified and created the illusion, at least, of simultaneous rhythm and lead playing, while bass and drums thundered darkly beneath. This brand of music making soon proved limiting, especially for guitarists, and only a few musicians have carried it into the middle and late 70’s, most notably Robin Trower and Rory Gallagher.

Mr. Gallagher was at the Bottom Line earlier this week, proving that in capable hands the power trio format remains valid. He isn't an exceptionally commanding singer, but on guitar
he manages to sound both creative and inspired without really enlarging on the vocabulary of his chosen idiom.

The key to the success of the set the reviewer heard late Wednesday evening was programmatic variety. Most power trios tend to thud along, knocking out one heavy blues after another, but Mr. Gallagher cannily varied his tempos, explored several different rhythmic avenues and drew on an eclectic selection of blues evergreens as well as on his own writing for material.

A certain sameness did become noticeable, but whenever utter boredom threatened, Mr. Gallagher would either shift gears rhythmically or pull a spectacular textural trick out of his hat. His solid rhythm section kicked all the music along spiritedly and one kept listening.

Robert Palmer

This article comes from the 9/7/79 issue of the New York Times
Thanks to Dan Karsner for sending the article and for the photo he took at Mr.Mustard's in Reading, PA in 1985
reformatted by roryfan
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added 10/7/07