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.
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
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
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.
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