Posts Tagged ‘Rod de’Ath’

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He never received the due he deserved, but blues guitarist Rory Gallagher was Ireland’s answer to Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Emerging in 1969 as the leader of a blues/rock power trio Taste (they were signed by Ahmet Ertegun to Atco Records in 1968, but were overshadowed at the label by acts like Cream, Blind Faith and Led Zeppelin), the group made three albums before disbanding in 1970, in order for Gallagher to go solo.

By the time he embarked on the ’76 tour Gallagher had expanded his power trio to a four-piece band with the addition of Lou Martin on piano, organ and synths. They blast off with “Moonchild,” which borrows heavily from the riff The Moody Blues used in their hit, “The Story In Your Eyes.” Next up is “Secret Agent” (a different song than the one made famous by Johnny Rivers with the same name). The show moves forward with “Calling Card,” which was Gallagher’s new LP at the time. The rest of the show is a mix of tracks from Calling Card and staples that had long been part of his set list, including “Souped-Up Ford,” “Western Plain,”(featuring Gallagher on acoustic guitar), and the balls-out rocker, “I Take What I Want,” (which nicks The Beatles’ riff from “I Feel Fine” during Gallagher’s solo).

By the late 1970s, Gallagher’s brand of blues rock fell out of favor with radio programmers, and like artists such as Robin Trower and Steve Marriott, he had to focus on a smaller, but fiercely loyal, following. Although he never received the worldwide recognition of Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, and Jimmy Page, he certainly deserves to be remembered for the many excellent albums and tours he had during his career. Sadly, he died after receiving a liver transplant in 1995 at the age of 47.

Rory Gallagher – vocals, guitars, harmonica; Gerry McAvoy – bass; Rod De’ath – drums, percussion; Lou Martin – keyboards

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The late Rory Gallagher made some very cool records, but he could never capture the excitement and power that were almost always part of his live shows. Just take a listen to this recording made for the King Biscuit Flower Hour on his ’74 US tour. Gallagher had a strong following on the west coast and this show in San Diego was well attended by a large, loyal audience.

Gallagher made a name for himself in 1969 with the band Taste, who recorded three albums before splitting in 1971. Gallagher recorded several solo albums between 1971 and 1991, but is also noted for his session work on Muddy Waters’ The London Sessions album, released on Chess Records. Sadly, he died after receiving a liver transplant in 1995 at the age of 47.

By the late 1970s, Gallagher’s brand of blues rock fell out of favor with radio programmers, and like artists such as Robin Trower and Steve Marriott, he had to focus on a smaller, but fiercely loyal, following. Although he never received the worldwide recognition of Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, and Jimmy Page, he certainly deserves to be remembered for the many excellent albums and tours he had during his career.

Rory Gallagher – vocals, guitars, harmonica; Gerry McAvoy – bass; Rod De’ath – drums, percussion; Lou Martin – keyboards

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On July 8th, 1972, Melody Maker’s Mark Plummer joined Rory Gallagher on the road in Kent and London. As this classic feature shows, Rory Gallagher’s reputation as a perfect bar buddy was well-deserved. Rory Gallagher changes out of his striped T-shirt, folds it neatly and places it in his zipper case, exchanging it for an equally familiar lumberjack shirt.

Two seats away, his drummer Rod de’Ath looks embarrassed, ducking behind a couple of  guitar cases as he changes from one pair of leather-patched Levi’s into another sweaty pair of jeans. His skinny arms are covered in an orange T-shirt and they look like they’re never going to be able to keep the beat going during tonight’s show.

Two hours earlier, Rory had been sitting in the same Maidstone technical college dressing room re-stringing his Fender guitar from a pile of crumpled guitar string packets, while the guitarist from one of the support bands had sat tuning and gently playing to himself through a small practice amp.

Now that same guitarist offers Rory the use of the amp, as he stands up against tile wall tuning his battered old Fender and blowing in a harp. Rory declines, with thanks, explaining that he’s been doing it that way since he came to Britain from Ireland a few years back to launch Taste, and he’s not going to change his ways now. It’s the same old Rory. Affable, easy-going, the one rock’n’roller in Britain with a right to be called the people’s guitarist.

In a nearby pub, people are tucking away pints while the little support band blows away. Many make their way over to Rory, offer him the customary pint of Guinness, perhaps ask him to play one of their favourite numbers. Some hand him scruffy pieces of paper for his autograph.

Back in the dressing room, Rory is ready to go on; guitars in tune, Gerry McAvoy slicked up in green trews, t-shirt and patch leather waistcoat, his bass slung over his shoulder with an old leather belt. A great cheer breaks the air as Gerry and Rod dart through the doors and scramble their way through the packed hall towards the makeshift stage. Rory follows on behind, gets up on stage, quickly retunes to make up for the intense heat that has altered pitching, and lurches into Used To Be.

Rory Gallagher and his band work hard on an audience, playing blues in the tradition of the music as entertainment rather than an art form. Rory is not much interested in being flash and showy, but just in laying it down the line and turning people on; playing his Fender guitar to the best of his ability. His stage strength is that he knows he can play as well as the best, and the people know it too. They don’t go along to watch the speed he plays the notes, and they certainly don’t go along to see him because of his stage gear.

“This is a working band,” says Rory. You just know exactly what he means, watching him standing on stage, sweating and playing, hardly taking a break from song to song unless it is to get the guitar back into tune as the heat stretches the strings.

The showstopper in the act is definitely the mandolin stomper “Going To My Home Town”, a number which is stabbed home by Gerry and Rod beating one hell of a rhythm. But although Polydor in Germany have asked him to release it as a single, he is adamant and won’t do it.

Later in the car on the way home, he explained that although a hit single would bring him a whole new audience, having to compete to get into the singles charts with all the other three-minute ditties is not really his scene. Anyway, he doesn’t need a hit single to make him more popular, for he and promoters know that Rory is always going to sell out a hall by pure hard graft.

The following night in one of the bars in the beer-orientated entertainment complex at Dagenham’s Village Roundhouse, Rory stands at the bar explaining what he means by port wine to the barmaid while he signs autographs and declines numerous pints of Guinness.

Gallagher’s music is mostly blues-based but, he says, “I’ve never pigeon-holed myself into blues. I don’t consider all my material is blues. Let’s say I’m a blend of blues, rock and folk music. The blues has its influence on me: some nights I’ll feel more of a jazz thing. For the last few months I’ve been into blues. Blues is simple music but complex soul-wise. I like a lot of the old rock’n’roll things, but while Cochran is simple, it doesn’t have that same complexity in the feeling.

“I’ve done things that might get me classified as a folk singer. It doesn’t really worry me what I’m playing, it’s just the emotional hold the blues has. Then I can get the same thing off a white folk singer like Jack Elliott.”

What about the set structures of the blues. Maybe he found limitations in the music?

“Occasionally, if I happen to be listening to something that uses orchestras, it’s only very occasionally I get that feeling, but there would be something wrong with me if trying something with an orchestra had never occurred to me,” he says. “I used to listen to people like Fats Domino and people with small groups; occasionally they came up with things with orchestras for the commercial market. At the time I resented them doing it. I think it was The Beatles who were the first people to do things that I enjoyed with strings.

“I wouldn’t mind experimenting with things like that on the next album, perhaps some brass or strings.”

It’s been said that Rory picked Gerry and drummer Rod de’Ath, because they were not that good as musicians, so Rory’s own talent would shine through. But after watching them on numerous occasions it obvious they both compliment Rory’s playing perfectly. But how much, say, do they have in the band’s musical policy, and how replaceable are they to him?

“They’re definitely indispensable,” he says. “They’re very important. How can I confirm that? Just listen to the way they affect my playing. I don’t play acoustic guitar on my own throughout the set so the musicians affect on me. If they’re enjoying themselves I can feel it. People are always saying to me that I could have any sidemen, but Buddy Holly needed the Crickets more than anybody.  Gallagher is probably of the few artists in Britain at the top of the pile who continues working all the time, going back to the little Village Roundhouse rather than concentrating on concert halls.

He says he wouldn’t be satisfied with just playing a few concerts every so often or doing two British tours a year. His music needs smoky rooms and poky little dressing rooms to get over that working man’s feel that is so important.

“Sometimes I feel like taking a break for a while, maybe just stopping and taking it easy for a couple of months. Sometimes l feel like I just have to stay in bed the next day, but I think in my whole career there have only been a couple of gigs I haven’t turned up for.

“I just like working a lot. Obviously you can’t always keep going like a machine. But the thing is, if you’re sitting at home you pick up an acoustic guitar, if you pick up an electric one it doesn’t mean anything without musicians and people around you.

“Some people seem to think I work 365 days a year, I suppose,” he continues. ‘”Come to think of it, I do work a lot more than some of the other artists in the charts. Perhaps working so much helps to sell my albums. If I wasn’t working and I’m not making singles to keep my name around. I wouldn’t be selling so much.”

Always chewing the fat with people about anything that they happen to want to talk about, it’s rare to pin Gallagher down and get him talking about himself. He’s aware of his image of being a friendly sort of fellow who usually dresses kind of rough.

“I suppose that’s a big obsession with people,” he says. “I wouldn’t really enjoy doing a gig if I was rushed from the car straight into the dressing room. I don’t think it hurts your image to sit at the bar and have a drink. Some people would say that it makes you more of a human.

“Mostly people come up and shake your hand and ask you if you would play a song for them. It means you have an idea of how people are reacting to certain songs. If you hear how things are going down first hand it’s better than having a manager telling you how you’re going to go down in Dagenham.”

Back in the dressing room, gig over, Rory, Gerry and especially Rod look completely wasted. Outside in the hall the last of the people are slowly going home, talking about the set. They’re dripping with sweat, too, from dancing and clapping. They know every word, every chord, right to the way he phrases it. Rory notices that too, little batches of people standing by the stage singing every word with him, and then throwing themselves completely when he changes the way he sings a word.

Tonight it’s hot, even hotter than the night before. Rod sits in the corner saying that he’s certain he’s lost two stone, wringing his T-shirt until the sweat drips off it onto the floor. The tap doesn’t work and everybody could do with a good wash down. Never mind, the next night they’re off again and playing in France.

Rory Gallagher - Irish Tour '74

The Irish blues-rock guitar icon made strong, often great albums in the Seventies. But he was at his best, always, on stage. Rory Gallagher‘s present to the home country, at the turn of ’74, was seven shows in three cities, including Belfast, where sectarian violence had scared off most touring bands. A fantastic 1974 double LP was taken from riotous gigs in Cork, where Gallagher grew up. This boxed set is the tour complete, with similar set lists but vigorously different performances each night by one of rock’s most reliantly electrifying guitarists.

Rory Gallagher was also growing increasingly frustrated at not being able to capture the energy of his live shows in the studio. During one session, he threatened to “chuck the tapes in the dustbin”. It was no ideal threat – he would go on to shelve whole albums in the future.

“He was a live performer,” said keyboard player Lou Martin. “He didn’t like the studio because he was playing to the walls and wasn’t getting any feedback from the audience. But he had to do the albums for the record company.” But  onstage, it was another matter entirely, and Gallagher understandably jumped at the chance to record another live album. But this one would be different: it would be recorded in Ireland. Although his previous live album Live In Europe has a more raw, one-take sound, Irish Tour ‘74 showcases Rory’s growth as a songwriter and shines where he explores his then-most recent studio album, the very musically varied Tattoo. Opener Who’s That Coming, Tattoo’d Lady and the lengthy, looser version of A Million Miles Away show a man who’s enjoying his talent to the fullest musically.

“We were one of the only bands to play Belfast,” says Lou Martin proudly. “Thin Lizzy were not doing it because of the aggravation. But Rory insisted on it. I was from Belfast, Gerry was from Belfast and there was co-operation from ‘The Organisation’ to make sure the concerts went OK.”. “We were taken care of very well,” said drummer Rod de’Ath. “The hotels that we stayed at were carefully chosen, without going into too much detail.” (Neither man was willing to go into more detail about ‘The Organisation’, though we can presume that they’re not talking about the British government).

The resulting album, “Irish Tour ’74”, remains the highlight of Gallagher’s career. Recorded in Belfast, Dublin and Cork, it finally nailed his live performances on vinyl. While the sound quality is variable – partly due to the fact that they couldn’t get insurance for Ronnie Lane’s Mobile Studios in the more troubled areas – the album never loses its primal, raw urgency. It’s the sound of a band leaning out over the precipice – something Gallagher deliberately encouraged, making up the show as he went along.

A DVD of Tony Palmer’s eyewitness film, “Irish Tour ’74”, captures the soft-spoken Gallagher defying the bloodshed in Belfast, determined to play for fans on both sides of the Troubles with no guns drawn except for the one in Blind Boy Fuller’s “Pistol Slapped Blues.” The 40th anniversary expanded deluxe edition release of one of Rory Gallagher’s most celebrated recordings. The most expansive edition to date, of this landmark album.  Featured for the first time on record, all three shows.  Packaged in a special deluxe edition 8 cd, 10” boxset and including previously unreleased tracks, remastered audio, photos, extensive liner notes, feature length documentary, memorabilia and more.

rory box set

“Irish Tour captures some of his finest known live recordings and, while it’s impossible to tell which songs were recorded where, across nine in-concert recordings (plus one after-hours jam session, Back on My Stompin’ Ground), the energy crackling from stage to stalls and back again packs an intensity that few live albums – Gallagher’s others among them – can match.” (AllMusic)

“Unlike many other of his contemporaries, he lived long enough to see his legacy and influence take hold and flourish in the musical world. This display of one man’s ability to unite a people and a country in turmoil through his music is an essential listen for all rock fans, young and old, and is a crucial part of Irish musical history as well as the very legacy of blues rock.” (Sputnik Music)

“From the moment the music starts, Rory Gallagher: Irish Tour ’74 more than justifies itself. Gallagher played like his guitar was plugged straight into the universal source, and it probably was. That Gallagher was on his home turf for this tour only increases the sense of some sort of direct connection with his sound. Every note played, every string struck and every song sung vibrates with all the passion and intensity of a spiritual experience, which this surely was.” (Pop Matters)