pfcover.jpgRory Gallagher
‘Photo finish’
 Chrysalis 511170

Rory Gallagher’s bluesy guitar playing, with its aggressive as well as sensitive elements, has always appealed to me, and also his cracking, somewhat overstrained voice is very characteristic. His albums have, however, never struck me as really fantastic because as a composer he fails sometimes. His albums usually have a few songs which are no more than jams roughly worked out around a mean three chord theme. Gallagher himself also is far from satisfied with all of his work and that is the reason Photo-Finish was a long time coming. The album had been finished at the beginning of this year, but when Rory replayed the tape he thought it had quite a number of weak brothers. That is why he postponed the release so he could write and record some new songs.

On Photo-Finish, the musician with the checked shirt underwent some stylistic changes; hardly any bluesy, boogie-like pieces are heard, for example, and the guitar sound is remarkably raucous. Gallagher has always reminded me of Jimi Hendrix, but now that his sound has become a bit more raucous the similarity is even more striking. Just listen to songs like The Mississippi Sheiks (which has a fantastic slide guitar solo), The Last of the Independents, Fuel of Fire, and Cloak and Dagger. If you think away the vocals on these last two songs, you could swear hearing Hendrix’s reincarnation.

Also striking is the fact that the traditional acoustic ballad appearing on virtually every album was dropped, and keyboards are no longer used as well. All accompanying parts are now played on the guitar, which renders a considerably heavier specific weight and more virulence to the whole album.

Like I wrote before, Photo-Finish is less bluesy than his other works, but it is one of his most powerful albums because the repertoire is balanced. Gallagher is not one to change to a different musical direction from one day to the next – after all, his Irish tenacity and conservative nature are his trademark – but this might be a very gradual shift towards a direction with less of a blues slant. It is only a matter of a subtle difference, but on Photo-Finish it is well perceptible.
Roberto Palombit

This review comes from the  October 18, 1978 issue of the Dutch publication OOR
Thanks to Iris Rasenberg for translating this article
reformatted by roryfan

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added 4/15/07