NO SMOKE –NO MASCARA –NO HYPE!
From the Sweeping of Brush, which is
a collection of worthy quotes from Ben Shiels,
I give you the following.
“The reason great people are so
humble is because deep down in their hearts
they have a sneaky suspicion they
really are great.”
RORY Gallagher fits the bill
perfectly. His modesty is at times
almost embarrassing, but never affected.
Whatever moves he makes are made for the right reasons rather than for the
sake of change, publicity or whatever makes a showbiz life last longer. Dropping Rod d’Ath and Lou Martin from his
band and going to a 3-piece is such a move.
I thought he thought he had done it as a reaction against the music
becoming too big for the blues, but he told me I wrong.
“Obviously there is some little thing
inside me which makes me want to go back to just my guitar. I’m not averse to another guitar and maybe
keyboards. I just think it was time to
have a bit of a change.
Are you saying that you feel there is
the need for a more sparse approach to music, with less resort to dry ice and
“I think there is, even on
records. Everyone was using a lot of
synthesizers and things, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I think
the punk thing was a great reaction against that and the more healthy aspect of
the punk and new wave thing is that there is more club work, the synthesizers
were getting out of hand, but punk got bingo out of the halls and the clubs and
got more ‘live’ bands in.”
You are very much into producing your
own records now, very conscious of recording what you want. Why so?
“In days gone by, I used other
producers on my albums. In fact, the last
couple of times I had a producer, but it wasn’t what I needed and I don’t think
it really worked. A lot depends on the
right mood and the right engineer. It’s
not that I’m anti-producer, but sometimes there is so much aggression that you
need to put it down without discussion.”
But isn’t there a danger that a man
can become deaf to his own failings and weaknesses?
“That was something I gave way to and
that’s why I got the producer, because someone else can say ‘that was a better
take than the last one’, or whatever.
But I think if you’re a singer who hasn’t got material and who isn’t used
to singing into a mike in a studio, then a producer is right. Or if you want to change everything round, a
producer is right.”
Would Leo Sayer moving to Richard
Perry be the kind of example you mean?
That’s a good example of giving a guy a whole new bag of tricks. I could never imagine that happening to me.”
“I want to keep my records fairly
sparse, but with good quality. It won’t
sound like it was made in a garage and I know that I’ll have other musicians
who will provide other sounds and hear other things that will help me.”
“Besides, there is movement back to
three piece bands. There’s a new guy
call George Thorogood emerging. He plays
slide guitar. And look at The Pirates. It’s just good old r & b with a twist. I just kept on playing what I felt and
resisted the panic to try and keep up with the Bryan Ferrys or run out and buy
mascara. I just kept on a steady
Do you feel you kept the options open
for a lot of bands, by staying at the top as an r & b artist?
“I hope I contributed a little
bit. I can’t make a big statement and
say I’m the last relic or the savior of blues or rock. And remember, I’m trying to progress myself
all the time. The only thing I haven’t
changed is the heart of the music.”
R & B by its very nature tends to
impose limits on how far you can push the boundaries musically and
lyrically. Hasn’t it become hard to keep
writing in one style after all these years?
“Oddly enough no, I agree with what
you say, but I’m glad it hasn’t affected me.
Within the framework I have to keep looking for new stories alright, but
by the same token, there are so many echoes of the 50s in Bruce
Springsteen. If you write a song that
mentions a Chevy or a Cadillac, that is basically old r & b, but now one
year it’s r & b, the next futuristic, the next nostalgic and then it’s
“Elvis Costello is great, but again
there are echoes of Connie James and Bobby Vee, little touches of Little
Richard and Dave Clark. I’m not saying
it’s wrong or that he’s ripping them off. It’s just that unconsciously these good little
things have been included in today’s music.”
Is Macroom going to be the annual
trip to Mecca for you and so many more or do you treat it as just another gig?
“I try and detach myself from it and
treat it as another gig, and go out to give it the full lash, but obviously I
like being back at home. But I don’t
have a Marian year complex about it or anything.”
“There will be an amount of pressure
there and if I don’t come up with the goods on the day, they’ll let me
know. There is always an element there
who have the attitude “show us what you can do” and the whole thing is kind of
ritual. I’m not guaranteed a warm
reception but if you get it, it really gets you off the ground. Last year it went so well and this year I
hope the weather is good.”
by FAMOUS SHAMUS
From the June 29, 1978 issue of STARLIGHT (Irish Entertainment weekly)
Thanks to Dino McGartland for passing this article along to Brenda O'Brien and to Brenda for typing and sharing it!
reformatted by roryfan