Posts Tagged ‘Taste’

Image of Taste 'Transmissions 1968-69 CD

Taste (originally “The Taste”) was formed in Cork, Ireland, in August 1966 as a trio consisting of Rory Gallagher on guitar and vocals, Eric Kitteringham on bass, and Norman Damery on drums. In 1968 Taste began performing in the UK where the original line-up split up. The new line-up formed with Richard McCracken on bass and John Wilson on drums. The new line up of Taste moved permanently to London where they signed with the record label Polydor Records. In April 1969, Taste released the first of their two studio albums, the self-titled “Taste”, with “On the Boards” following in early 1970, the latter showing the band’s jazz influences with Gallagher playing saxophone on numerous tracks.

Taste recorded three sessions for John Peel’s Top Gear programme between 1968 and 1969. Nine songs from those sessions are featured on this disc. In addition, two live recordings broadcast on Dutch television on 22nd August 1969 are also included.

TRACK LISTING
01. Blister on The Moon / 02. Dual Carriageway Pain / 03. Norman Invasion / 04. Sugar Mama / 05. Leaving Blues 06. Born on The Wrong Side of Time / 07. Wee Wee Baby / 08. Same Old Story / 09. I’m Moving On / 10. Blister on The Moon (live) / 11. Sugar Mama (live)

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July, 1967, and Taste are settling into their residency at Belfast’s Club Rado in The Maritime Hotel. Already the Cork trio have picked up a loyal local following, and the ballroom is packed with students, sailors, working girls, local bands and music fans from across Northern Ireland. Some are merely curious, wanting to check the hot new ‘southern’ guitar-slinger in town; other are already converts and spreading the gospel that proclaims: “Taste are the best Irish band since Them!” The Rado’s atmosphere is thick with cigarette smoke and excitement as youths pack themselves against the stage, spilling beer as they cheer on the band.

The three teenagers who make up Taste are enjoying themselves immensely. They play a dynamic mixture of blues covers and original songs, sounding raw and dynamic. Their 19-year-old guitarist and vocalist Rory Gallagher blazes up front, his T-shirt soaked in sweat while he caresses great rips of sound from his beloved Fender Stratocaster. Taste slow things for Catfish. Youths punch the air as Gallagher channels feedback into his solo, while sailors whoop with joy and hug the ladies they call “shore relief”.

When “Catfish” finishes, Gallagher announces, “This one’s a new one I just wrote called “Blister On The Moon.” He then plays a stinging riff and sings, ‘Everybody is saying what to do and what to think/and when to ask permission when you feel you want to blink.’ Right now, after years spent in showbands, being told what to play and how to behave, Gallagher is revelling in the freedom of making his music, his way. And Belfast loves him for his freedom and defiance.

Admittedly, not all of Belfast does. Later that evening, after Taste finish their first set, Gallagher steps outside the Rado, wanting some fresh air and quiet. Suddenly, a group of youths surround him, and they aren’t ones he recognises from the venue. “Got a cigarette?” one asks. “Sorry, I don’t smoke,” replies Gallagher. Suddenly he’s set upon. Not for his lack of tobacco, but because his accent gives him away: he’s from the south and on the wrong side of town. Gallagher stumbles, almost falls, but manages to regain his balance as fists and feet rain upon him. He runs for his life and within minutes is inside Club Rado. Everyone notices Gallagher’s terrified expression and battered features. They don’t have to ask what happened. Instead, the Rado faithful empty onto the street, and suddenly the gloating gang are fleeing as music lovers teach the bigots a lesson. An unspoken rule at the Rado involves leaving religion, politics, whatever else, outside. Here Belfast gathers to celebrate the gospel of great blues and jazz and rock’n’roll. And throughout his life, Rory Gallagher always embodied such unity.

If Taste took beautiful shape in Belfast across the summer of 1967 – a summer, locals noted, not marked by love – they would cease to exist in this same city some three and a half years later in the depths of winter. Taste’s final performance took place at Queen’s University, Belfast, on New Year’s Eve, 1970. As the band waited to go on stage for a final time, car bombs exploded across the city. On a wet, windswept, bomb-scarred Belfast night, Taste ended in an atmosphere as bitter as the city’s climate.

Taste’s brief timeline runs like this: formed in Cork in late 1966, they quickly established themselves in Belfast in 1967, then began to win wider recognition with their regular forays at London’s Marquee. As their UK status rose, manager Eddie Kennedy insisted on changing the band’s rhythm section before they released their eponymous debut album in April 1969. This album achieved immediate continental success.

The band were championed by fellow musicians – the likes of John Lennon and Eric Clapton publicly praised Taste before they even had a record deal – and they played support at Cream’s Royal Albert Hall farewell concerts, as well as touring the US opening for Blind Faith. Their On The Boards album (released January 1st, 1970) won wide critical acclaim and chart success. Taste provided a standout performance at 1970’s Isle Of Wight Festival yet split acrimoniously at the end of that year. Rory Gallagher immediately set off on his solo career while the rhythm section formed Stud, a band as forgettable as their name is vulgar. A flurry of Taste live albums and a collection of 1967 Belfast demos were released across the 1970s, none with Gallagher’s permission or approval.

Those who love Taste’s music must wonder why this band, who shone so brightly and so briefly, appear to have been banished. Gallagher refused to include Taste material in his live sets for the rest of his life: that he felt such enmity towards what he experienced in the band that took him from the showband circuit to international stardom suggests severe trauma. Yet the music contained on Taste’s two studio albums is superb: their eponymous debut is dynamic late-1960s blues rock, while On The Boards is a striking blend of blues, jazz, rock and pastoral psychedelia. Taste were both critically acclaimed and commercially successful, yet in the decades since they split up, their legacy has been marginalised.

This is finally about to change. A Taste box set, I’ll Remember, is being released alongside a DVD containing the band’s Isle Of Wight performance. These releases are due to the diligence and care of the Gallagher estate, who have worked tirelessly to ensure that Rory’s legacy is properly handled. “For me, Taste has always been a passion,” says Donal Gallagher, Rory’s only sibling, “but this has been a walk through a nettle field.”

on paper, Taste epitomised the Aquarian ideals of the British counterculture. Combining youth and talent, a willingness to experiment and improvise, a dedication to playing for the people and an ability to bring Northern and southern Irish music fans together, Taste embodied the best principles of that era. And Rory Gallagher, in his humility and honest passion, stood for all that’s good in rock’n’roll. But a duplicitous manager would ensure that Taste emerged from the 1960s as burnt and bitter as The Beatles. Perhaps even more so, because few tales of industry machinations are quite as sour as that of Taste.
Rory was proud of the two albums Taste made,” explains Donal, “but we were never even told by Polydor that they were going to release live Taste albums. And the Belfast demos were never supposed to be issued. The whole situation was a mess and Rory just preferred to avoid dealing with it. We have wanted to see Taste’s recordings handled properly for a long time but my feeling, initially, was that anything to do with Taste becomes a nightmare.”

Donal pauses then adds, “Due to various legalities and personalities involved.”

Nightmare number one was Taste’s manager, the late Eddie Kennedy. Kennedy, a Northern Irish music promoter, caught Taste’s first Belfast performance at Sammy Houston’s Jazz Club. Sensing talent and scenting money, Kennedy signed Taste to both a residency at the Maritime Hotel and a management deal. Seventeen-year-old William Rory Gallagher had gained a musical education way beyond his years in, firstly, The Fontana Showband and then The Impact Showband as they toured Ireland, the UK, Spain and Germany, playing pubs, dance halls and US military bases. Time in London playing the city’s Irish ballrooms had allowed Gallagher to check out that city’s many gifted musicians. He saw Davey Graham in folk clubs and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers (with Peter Green) in pubs, and it made him determined to lead a stripped-down R&B band. His last showband engagement, at Hamburg’s Big Apple club, found him leading The Impact Showband as a trio. When the Big Apple club’s manager asked where the missing showband members were, Gallagher swore they were all stuck in London with food poisoning. After a week, the manager surmised that he’d been told a fib but Gallagher played with such passion and skill, he let the 16-year-old continue his residency.

Back in Cork, Gallagher retired The Impact Showband and set about forming his ideal band, poaching Norman Damery and Eric Kitteringham from The Axills (Cork’s “answer to The Beatles” at the time). With Dublin being a soul music town, Taste found Belfast more responsive to their blues-drenched sound, and with Eddie Kennedy making promises, the trio settled there in 1967, initially living in the Maritime’s tiny, cell-like rooms (it was built as a residence for sailors between ships).

Van Morrison’s Them had made their name playing at the Maritime Hotel and were now internationally famous, and Kennedy saw in Taste a band who could follow in Them’s footsteps. As Kennedy regularly booked English bands to come and play at the Maritime, Taste mastered their craft opening for the likes of Cream, Fleetwood Mac and Chris Farlowe’s Thunderbirds.

“Those bands would come out to play four or five nights,” says Donal, “and so Taste really got to know them and Rory got to play with a lot of great musicians. The Belfast Taste/Fleetwood Mac gigs were amazing. There was a real purity to both bands and how they played blues. Chris Farlowe had Albert Lee on guitar – he was a brilliant picker right back then! And when Cream came over, Eric [Clapton] was so impressed by Rory that he offered him his Marshall stack to play through. Rory tried it but couldn’t get the sound he wanted so reverted to playing through his Vox amp.”Kennedy’s connections with Robert Stigwood (manager of Cream and the Bee Gees) meant he could get Taste – or The Taste as he initially insisted they were billed – gigs at London’s celebrated Marquee Club. In late 1967, Taste visited London, living out of their van and opening for anyone and everyone. Word spread about the beautifully raw Belfast band and when they returned to settle in London in early 1968, they were soon headlining nights at The Marquee.

“The Marquee was huge back then,” recalls Donal. “This was before they put a bar in so you could pack about 1,500 people in. There was no such thing as health and safety and as it wasn’t licensed, no one ever checked on it. The Marquee was also a place where promoters from across Europe would come to check the new talent.

“After one of Taste’s first London gigs in 1967, this guy from Nottingham, who booked The Boat House, offered us a fiver to come up and support Captain Beefheart. We leapt at it. The fiver probably covered the petrol! I remember we stayed at the worst dosshouse in Nottingham, along with about 30 lorry drivers! But the gig was great and Rory was very impressed by Captain Beefheart and his band as they had strong blues and jazz influences.

“After the show was over, Rory was chatting with Beefheart, and Beefheart said, ‘I hit all the bum notes I can.’ That was new to Rory. He had come up in the showbands where every note had to be perfect. So playing with different bands got Rory thinking about music in different ways.”
Taste then got booked to play at the Woburn Abbey Festival on July 7th, 1968. Woburn Abbey was one of the first British rock festivals and the bill featured the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Donovan. Taste were still unsigned at the time but they produced such a dynamic performance that John Peel, the former pirate radio DJ whose Perfumed Garden show on Radio 1 featured rising stars of the rock underground, told Gallagher that he would make sure Taste got a BBC session. Peel had already begun playing Taste’s debut 45 “Blister On The Moon”. This had been released on Belfast label Major Minor without the band’s consent. The two songs were taken from a demo and it’s likely Eddie Kennedy allowed the single to come out to generate major label interest.

Taste were now rising stars of the British rock scene – John Lennon had attended a Marquee performance and subsequently told a New Musical Express writer: “I heard Taste for the first time the other day and that bloke is going places” – and Polydor expressed interest in signing the band. Kennedy then insisted that the rhythm section be sacked. He told Gallagher that this was at Polydor’s insistence, the label deeming the rhythm section not good enough (listening to the Woburn Abbey concert proves the lie in this). Gallagher said he was having none of this and they would have to find another label. But – and Donal is unsure why – he then backed down, and Damery and Kitteringham were sent back to Cork while Ulster musicians John Wilson and Richard McCracken were drafted in on drums and bass. Wilson-McCracken had recently played in Cheese, a Belfast band Kennedy had managed. The new duo were both gifted, experienced musicians – Wilson had been a member of Them and played on their second album, “Them Again” – and they quickly clicked with Gallagher.

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Taste’s new line-up signed with Polydor, with Kennedy promising the band that the label would allow them the kind of independence The Who and Cream were then enjoying. What he didn’t tell them was that as they were minors – the legal age for contracts back then was 21 – it was Kennedy who was signed to Polydor, while the members of Taste were individually under contract to him as employees. Not that the band paid any attention to the intricacies of contracts, preferring to concentrate on taking their music to the people.

Taste played every gig they could get, every place, building a following,” says Donal who, having started as his brother’s roadie, was now the tour manager. “The crowd would be packed up against the stage and cheering the band on. This was the fuel Rory worked on – Taste would combust on stage, just catch fire with the excitement of the audience and take the music places they didn’t know it could go. I’ve found pictures of them on stage on a winter’s night and they are boiling!”.

Taste settled into two Earls Court bedsits with Rory and Donal sharing one – “two singles beds, a closet, a cooker, a washbasin” – and Wilson and McCracken in the other. The band toured in an old Ford Transit van, playing wherever they were booked.
“Our diary was always quite full because we didn’t mind going up to Inverness one night and Plymouth the next, both for low money,” Gallagher told ZigZag magazine when asked about his early days with Taste. “It was the only way to establish ourselves as far as we were concerned, because people soon forget what they read in a paper but they rarely forget a gig… so we just gradually worked our way up.”

So rooted in playing a highly personal form of blues rock were Taste that Eric Clapton, frustrated by Cream’s inter-member acrimony, insisted they play at the Royal Albert Hall as part of Cream’s farewell concerts. Taste, still without an album out, were thus anointed as Cream’s heirs.

Cream performed two shows in one evening at the Royal Albert Hall,” recalls Donal, “and that was a pity as it meant everything was rushed. Apparently it was because they could only book the Royal Albert Hall for one night and so they squeezed the two shows in. Also, Tony Palmer was filming the shows and I think he liked the idea of shooting both of them on one day. Yes were also on the bill so for the first show Taste opened, and then for the second show Yes opened.

“To my mind, Taste sounded better on the second show and Rory’s guitar sounded great – he was still playing through his Vox amp. He didn’t use any effects pedals beyond a treble booster to get greater sustain. There were lots of well-known musicians backstage – David Crosby and some of the Bee Gees, among others.”

While the Royal Albert Hall concerts turned the spotlight on Taste, it also brought about a degree of derision: as Cream and Jimi Hendrix had pioneered the power trio format, Taste were dismissed by certain London scenesters as mere Irish copycats.

Rory had formed Taste in 1966 with no intention of copying anyone,” says Donal. “He was friendly with Jack Bruce, having met him in his Hamburg days, and loved the early Yardbirds – their raw, raunchy blues – but he never aimed for Taste to be like Cream. Obviously Cream had been trailblazers in America so they paved the way for Taste. But if you listen to the Taste albums, they sound nothing like Cream.

“When Cream finally split [following their 1969 US farewell tour], Rory was approached by Eddie Kennedy with the suggestion he join Jack and Ginger [Baker] in a new version of Cream. Eddie was working closely with Robert Stigwood’s agency and it must have been mooted that a version of Cream could continue with Rory in Eric’s place. Rory wouldn’t have a bar of it.”

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As Taste’s live reputation continued to grow, Polydor determined to get them into the studio and hired Tony Colton, a highly-touted British singer-songwriter who was, at that time, fronting Heads Hands & Feet as producer. Taste’s self-titled debut album was recorded at De Lane Lea Studios, a facility in the centre of Soho, in one day. The next day was devoted to mixing the album.

Released in April 1969, Taste’s debut album is, essentially, their live show. It opens with Gallagher’s anthem “Blister On The Moon”, He bemoans life spent up and down Britain’s then-primitive motorway network with Dual Carriageway Pain, which is followed by a handful of unremarkable Gallagher originals, “I’m Movin’ On”. This gets played in a remarkably straightforward manner, harking back to Gallagher’s 1950s childhood in Ballyshannon where he was taught the song by his Uncle Jimmy, who returned to Northern Ireland after having worked in Detroit’s car plants.

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Taste’s self-titled debut provided a broader showcase for Rory Gallagher, though the guitarist was already well on his way to becoming a national folk hero among his fellow Irishmen. Taste, which arrived on arrived on April 1st, 1969, succeeded on its own terms thanks to stunning heavy rockers like “Blister on the Moon,” “Same Old Story,” and the timeless “Born on the Wrong Side of Time,” as well as a wealth of accomplished blues numbers, both covered (Huddie Ledbetter’s “Leavin’ Blues” and Howlin’ Wolf’s “Sugar Mama”) and original (“Hail,” which particularly highlights Gallagher’s talents; and “Catfish,” where he “out-Gods” Eric Clapton). Before they were done, Taste even found time to visit ‘50s rock via “Dual Carriageway Pain”; and American country music, with an acoustic and slide guitar-infused rendition of Hank Snow’s “I’m Moving On.”

Still, his first sighting alongside the other men in Taste cannot be overlooked, since it stands as Gallagher’s first major step toward immortality as perhaps the ultimate working-class guitar hero.

Taste received largely positive reviews – Gallagher noted that it was “raw and honest” – and sold strongly in northern Europe. The band stayed on the road and went on to break The Marquee’s attendance record (previously held by Jimi Hendrix), but they remained on the same tiny salary Eddie Kennedy paid them. They may have now been internationally celebrated recording artists but they continued to live in grimy Earls Court bedsits.

“Earls Court was dubbed ‘Kangaroo Valley’ back then due to the huge number of Aussies living there,” says Donal. “The bedsit was very cramped and you had to feed the gas meter with an endless supply of coins to be able to cook or get heat. I would always be going off to the local laundry to do the band’s washing – Rory would just sweat through everything on stage – and the lady who owned the bedsit saw me doing this and installed coin-operated washing machines in the basement of our building. In winter, the laundry basement was the warmest room in the building so we would huddle down there, and Rory found it was a place where he could practice guitar and saxophone without annoying the other people living in the building.

“We lived in a crescent and met many other bands living there, including Brian May’s Smile. Brian would come and see Taste all the time. He would hang around after the gig finished to talk guitar with Rory, and Rory would explain to him how he got certain sounds.”

Eric Clapton’s enthusiasm for Taste remained strong and saw that the band were invited to support Blind Faith on their US tour across July and August 1969. While Taste played well, Blind Faith were imploding and, Donal recalls, the tour was poorly organised.

“It had always been a dream of Rory’s to play music in America. But once we got to America, the Blind Faith tour was a shambles. It was very badly managed, chaotic. They didn’t have enough material ready so Eric and Ginger ended up having to do Cream numbers – which is what the audience wanted, but not what Eric and Stevie [Winwood] had formed Blind Faith to do. Everything about that tour was a mess – it really felt cobbled-together – and due to Blind Faith’s controversial album cover [featuring a young topless girl], their record release had been delayed so the audiences weren’t familiar with the new songs. Rory was unhappy with Eddie and disliked playing stadiums, preferring clubs, and animosity was building in the band. Eric worked out something was wrong with Taste and asked me one time: ‘What’s wrong with the guys?’ He could feel the vibes. Rory took on an air of depression on that tour. ”

Taste were well received by US audiences and their debut album on Atco (Atlantic) entered the Billboard and Cashbox charts, but Eddie Kennedy had done little for the band there and, at the tour’s end, they found no further US dates booked. Back in London, Polydor requested that Taste re-enter the studio with Tony Colton to record album number two. This time they were given almost a week to get things done. And Gallagher, emboldened by success and determined to pursue his musical vision, stretched out on what would become known as “On The Boards”.

Gallagher composed all 10 tunes and demonstrated a versatility few could have imagined. Alongside driving blues rockers were acoustic ballads and experimental jazz-blues fusions, with Gallagher playing alto saxophone. No one else in contemporary rock music was creating anything comparable and when “On The Boards” was issued on January 1st, 1970, it entered the charts across Europe and attracted hugely complimentary reviews. Yet when Polydor issued opening track What’s Going On as a single in Germany – it was a Top 5 hit there – Gallagher was furious. Just like Led Zeppelin, he refused to allow singles to be issued from albums.

“I’m not sure where that came from,” says Donal, “as we grew up loving listening to 45s by The Everly Brothers and Chuck Berry. I think Rory saw his albums as akin to what jazz musicians were doing, so didn’t want them chopped up. At that time he had jammed with Larry Coryell and was in awe of Ornette Coleman, so the idea of being a pop star just did not appeal.”

As for Gallagher’s skill on the alto saxophone, which would never feature prominently on his albums again, Donal recalls his brother teaching himself in their bedsit.

Rory taught himself to play alto sax in one week. He did it in our bedsit in Earls Court. It was a frigging nightmare! He ended up playing into our closet, using it as a sound booth. It got so many complaints from other residents in the building!”

Taste were in the charts and on the road, playing to ever larger audiences, yet remained on the same poverty wages that Kennedy had begun paying them in 1967. “Eddie kept Taste on a meagre weekly salary,” notes Donal. “Rory got an extra fiver a week as he had to buy so many guitar strings. But the band were still playing through the meagre PA Rory had inherited from his showband days and travelling in a very basic Ford Transit with no proper heating. Here Taste were headlining festivals, setting attendance records at The Marquee and topping the charts across Europe, and they were just as poor as when they were an unknown band. It simply wasn’t good enough.”

By the time Taste came to play the Isle Of Wight Festival on August 28th, 1970, the band were on the verge of splitting. Rory and Donal both knew that Kennedy was looting Taste, yet Wilson and McCracken sided with their manager. Just as Noel Redding had resented the attention Jimi Hendrix received, Taste’s rhythm section spoke bitterly of how the focus on the band appeared to be all “Rory, Rory, Rory”.

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“Things weren’t looking great for Isle Of Wight,” recalls Donal. “The van was broken into the night before and some of the drum pedals were stolen. This just added to the tension as Rory had been on to Eddie about getting a better van. At the Isle Of Wight, you had a band imploding on itself – Rory was very upset that John and Richard had decided to take the manager’s side. John believed all the promises that Eddie made – how he was going to make them all millionaires and pay a mortgage on John’s house – while Rory felt that Eddie had done what was necessary: he had got them from Belfast to London and had now run his course. And Eddie held on to all the money Taste generated. Also, there was the issue of jealousy: John and Richard resented Rory getting all the limelight but he was the bandleader, the guitarist, the singer, the songwriter.”

Donal sighs wearily as he recalls this difficult time. Taste were a band at the top of their game, widely loved and achieving great things, but they were poor and miserable. “We didn’t even have enough wages to eat properly. It turned out that John and Richard had signed separate contracts with Eddie and that Taste were not signed to Polydor so much as Eddie Kennedy was. All this came to a head two days before the Isle Of Wight. By the time they played the festival, Rory and I knew that Taste were over, that he was going to break up the band and go solo.”

Yet the Isle Of Wight ignited around Taste. Murray Lerner, who was shooting a film of the festival, had planned on only shooting one or two songs of Taste’s set, but they were so exciting and the audience response so strong that he kept the cameras rolling for much of the band’s performance. It’s this footage that features on the Taste Live At The Isle Of Wight DVD.

Gallagher wanted to end Taste after the festival but found out that Polydor had booked a major European tour for the band. Gallagher agreed to do it but insisted that he got paid directly by Polydor. Kennedy continued to treat the band poorly and during this tour, a backstage visitor asked Donal, ‘Where’s the beers? Where’s the food?’ I said, ‘This band don’t get any. What’s it to you?’ He replied, ‘I’m Peter Grant and I manage bands and Taste should be treated better than this.’ We got to talking and Peter would help us get out of Polydor’s clutches – they wanted to hold on to Rory as a solo artist.”

Once the European tour was over, Gallagher made it clear that Taste also were. Gentle as he may have been, he knew he had been robbed by Kennedy and was furious at his bandmates’ disloyalty. He agreed only that the band should play a farewell concert in the city that launched them: Belfast. Finishing on New Year’s Eve appeared suitably symbolic.

“The band performed two shows on the same day,” says Donal. “I guess it was because everyone was trying to earn their last crust. I recall their performance had an eerie feeling to it as they were playing beautifully, playing great music, but very soon it was to be no more. The second concert was at Queen’s University and as it came up to midnight, 11 car bombs had gone off across Belfast. And everyone was saying that the 12th car bomb would go off as it hit midnight. So we were all waiting for this ominous moment.

“In London people were counting down the seconds until Big Ben chimed midnight and in Belfast we were counting them down until the 12th car bomb went off. And you know what? It never exploded. I don’t know if this was due to a fault in the bomb or what, but that is my abiding memory of Taste’s final concert – the band breaking up and Belfast being torn apart by car bombs.”

Gallagher quickly moved on, establishing himself as a hugely successful solo artist. Peter Grant saw off Eddie Kennedy – who initially claimed to “own” the frontman – but Gallagher never saw any of the funds Taste had earned across their four-year existence. As Donal got more involved in managing Rory, he determined to resolve the Taste conundrum.

“I got more and more angry at how he was being ripped off over the Taste material and Eddie was still holding on to some of Rory’s publishing. Then, in the mid-1970s, we had just signed a new contract with Chrysalis and suddenly this album of the Taste Belfast demos came out in the US under Rory’s name and with a photo of him on the cover, as if it was a new album by Rory! I hired lawyers and went after the label and they declared bankruptcy rather than pay up. It cost us a fortune! I then took Eddie Kennedy to court and Rory was very nervous about it. He told me that he doubted he could get in the witness box and testify against Eddie, but Eddie capitulated before it reached court. He then signed over the Taste royalties, although he claimed to have no money so Rory never saw any of the money generated from Taste’s album sales up until then.”

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In the early 1990s, the most unlikely of events almost happened: a Taste reunion. “Rory and John Wilson got friendly again after John turned up for a few of Rory’s Belfast concerts. We were considering a Taste reunion being held in Belfast’s Titanic dry dock as part of the Northern Ireland peace process, but then Rory got sick. Anyway, by now we were all talking again and I explained to John and Richard that we had gone after Eddie for the Taste royalties. At around the same time, Polydor announced it was reissuing the Taste albums on CD and I pointed out to them that they did not own the digital rights. We sorted this out and an agreement regarding Taste was finally signed by all parties in 1999. Better late than never.”

Then, in 2000, Wilson and McCracken revived the Taste name (with Sam Davidson doing Gallagher’s guitar and vocals) and went out on the road. If the Gallaghers and the rhythm section had put their differences behind them in the 1990s, this ‘reunion’ again proved divisive.

“It upset me that Richard and John went out on the road again as Taste,” says Donal. “That was an abysmal decision and not in the spirit of the agreement. When I heard about it, I said to them, ‘Why don’t you go out as Stud?’” Donal shakes his head in quiet disbelief, then says, “The synergy of Taste was great. Rory loved playing with the band, the way Richard understood jazz really worked for him. But Taste without Rory… it’s not right.”

What Donal has done is get Taste right. The “I’ll Remember” box set and Live At The Isle Of Wight DVD (“I contacted director Murray Lerner and said, ‘I don’t want my descendants talking to your descendants so let’s get this done’”) capture one of the most remarkable bands of their era. They only existed for a few brief years but the music they created then touched many. And now, treated with the respect Taste deserve, it will continue to do so.

_“I’ll Remember” is out on August 28 via Universal. See http://www.rorygallagher.com for more information.

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LESTER BANGS ON TASTE…world’s most famous rock hack was a huge Rory fan

Lester Bangs (1948-1982) was the greatest American rock critic ever to pick up a pen and the only one to be immortalised in a Hollywood film (by Philip Seymour Hoffman in Almost Famous). He was starting out as a freelance writer for Rolling Stone in 1970 when the magazine asked him to review On The Boards. The 21-year-old Bangs gave the album one of his most fulsome reviews ever, noting: “Taste is from the new wave of British blues bands, breaking through the slavish rote of their predecessors into a new form that can only be called progressive blues. In other words, they use black American music as the starting point from which to forge their own songforms and embark on subtle improvisational forays.

“From the first notes of What’s Going On, the tightness and precision of this band’s instrumentalists is evident – the bass always complements the lead perfectly, never resorting to Jack Bruce fidgetings. And the crackling power of the guitar solo is made doubly heady by Rory Gallagher’s unerring sense of restraint… But Taste is evolving into much more than just another heavy voltmeter trio, as It’s Happened Before, It’ll Happen Again makes clear. After two angular, uptempo vocal choruses – like scat singing with words added – Gallagher takes off on a long whirlwind of a solo flight, first on guitar and then alto sax, that is jazz and rock and neither precisely.

“You can hear distant echoes in his guitar solo of Gábor Szabó, Wes Montgomery and probably The Tony Williams Lifetime’s John McLaughlin, but Gallagher has digested his mentors, be they blues bards, jazzmen or The Rolling Stones. He is his own man all the way, even on sax, where his statements are doubly refreshing by their piercing clear tone and the coherence of the ideas – we have needed a rock saxist with the inspiration and facility to blow something besides garbled ‘free’ shit.

“It may seem unfair to concentrate almost exclusively on Gallagher, but the group is really his own vehicle in every way – besides playing lead guitar and sax and harmonica, he also sings lead and wrote all the songs. His voice is crisp and personal and blessedly free of strained mannerisms. Gallagher is no shouter when he doesn’t need to be – he treats his voice just like his other instruments, with an artist’s sense of ease and care for their delicacy…

“It seems a shame to even suggest that Taste be classed in any way with that great puddle of British blues bands. Everybody else is just woodshedding – Taste have arrived.”

Taste were an Irish rock and blues band formed in 1966. They were founded by songwriter and guitarist Rory Gallagher who left the band in 1970. Formed in Cork, Ireland, in August 1966 as a trio consisting of Rory Gallagher on guitars and vocals, Eric Kitteringham on bass, and Norman Damery on drums. In their early years Taste toured in Hamburg and Ireland before becoming regulars at Maritime Hotel, an R&B club in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

In 1968 Taste began performing in the UK where the original lineup split up. The new lineup formed with Richard McCracken on bass and John Wilson on drums.The new Taste moved permanently to London where they signed with the record label Polydor. In November 1968, the band, along with Yes, opened for Cream at Cream’s farewell concerts.

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Blister On The Moon / Dual Carriageway Pain / Norman Invasion / Born On The Wrong Side of Time (first broadcast 27 October 1968)
Same Old Story / Dual Carriageway Pain (First broadcast: 30 October 1968.
I’m Movin’ On / Sugar Mama / Leaving Blues / Wee Wee Baby (first broadcast 20 April 1969)
releases March 1, 2020

“Our salivating makes it all taste worse,” croons Ty Segall in “Taste”, the lead single from his forthcoming new album, “First Taste”, due August 2nd. He’s talking about us: how we’re the masters of our own destiny, tellers of our own prophecy, makers of our own sickened choices. It’s a warning, but this time, the finger is pointing back at him too. He’s one with us. First Taste is an introspective set for Segall after the extroversions of 2018’s Freedom’s Goblin. Lines of struggle wind through the songs as Segall reflects on family, re-encountering pasts, anticipating futures. He skates through oneness, self-esteem, the parents – all the joys of a rain-filled childhood – while reaching outward in the here and now, feeling for a shared pulse.

Meanwhile, the production is far out! Segall‘s creative juices suggested some radical (in the older sense of the word) new instrumental territories: koto, recorder, bouzouki, harmoniser, mandolin, saxophones and brass, voices, and a sprinkling of keys. Segall occupies the drumset whenever it’s heard on the left speaker, while Charles Moothart plays the kit on the right side Segall‘s vocal prowess sits in fresh relief against his mutant orchestra, spooling tension through some of his most patient songs, his feral scream in complete control. Whatever the mood is, the pedal is pushed cleanly to the metal – and that means to the max of the lightest ballads ever, OR through the most raging rocks yet. Segall‘s song designs are all over the place, but unlike the freewheeling feast style of Freedom’s Goblin, these twelve numbers form a tightly revolving cycle of song and sound that focuses thoughts.

Ty Segall and the Freedom Band will bring their electrifying live shows to LA, NYC, and Europe later this year. During these residencies, Segall will play First Taste in full, alongside select albums from his expansive catalogue. All tour dates, including newly-announced support and specifics on which album Segall will be playing each night, are below.

7/26/19 Teragram Ballroom Los Angeles, CA (plays First Taste + Melted)
8/2/19 Teragram Ballroom Los Angeles, CA  (plays First Taste + Melted)
8/9/19Teragram Ballroom Los Angeles, CA (plays First Taste + Melted)
8/16/19 Teragram Ballroom Los Angeles, CA  (plays First Taste + Goodbye Bread)
8/23/19 Teragram Ballroom Los Angeles, CA  (plays First Taste + Goodbye Bread)
8/30/19 Teragram Ballroom Los Angeles, CA  (plays First Taste + Emotional Mugger)
9/6/19 Teragram Ballroom Los Angeles, CA    (plays First Taste + Emotional Mugger)
9/13/19 Teragram Ballroom Los Angeles, CA  (plays First Taste + Manipulator)
9/20/19 Teragram Ballroom Los Angeles, CA  (plays First Taste + Manipulator)
9/27/19 Teragram Ballroom Los Angeles, CA (plays First Taste + Manipulator)
10/1/19 Warsaw Brooklyn, NY  plays (First Taste + Melted)
10/2/19 Warsaw Brooklyn, NY plays (First Taste + Melted)
10/3/19 Warsaw Brooklyn, NY plays (First Taste + Goodbye Bread)
10/4/19 Warsaw Brooklyn, NY plays (First Taste + Emotional Mugger)

10/5/19 Warsaw Brooklyn, NY plays (First Taste + Manipulator)

EU:

10/9/19     La Cigale  Paris, France (plays First Taste + Melted)
10/10/19     La Cigale Paris, France (plays First Taste + Manipulator)
10/11/19     Oval Space  London, United Kingdom    (plays First Taste + Melted)
10/12/19     Oval Space  London, United Kingdom    (plays First Taste + Goodbye Bread)
10/13/19     Oval Space  London, United Kingdom    (plays First Taste + Manipulator)
10/15/19     Festaal Kreuzberg     Berlin, Germany    (plays First Taste + Melted)
10/17/19     Patronaat Haarlem, Netherlands (plays First Taste + Melted)
10/18/19     Patronaat Haarlem, Netherlands (plays First Taste + Manipulator)
10/19/19     Desertfest Antwerp     Antwerp, Belgium

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Woburnwas one of the first rock festivals including the inexpressibly wonderful Jimi Hendrix.. At the time the British blues bands such as John Mayall and Fleetwood Mac were riding high. Organised by the UK music magazine the Woburn bash advertised in the Melody Maker with Mayall, Fleetwood Mac , Hendrix , over two days.The Woburn Music Festival was one of Britain’s first large scale, open-air rock music events. Staged by brothers Richard “Rik” and John Gunnell, who were well respected individuals in the burgeoning London music scene where they were heavily involved in many aspects including band managed, show promoters and club owners. Rik in particular, who owned three fashionable 1960’s London nightspots—the Ram Jam Club, Flamingo, and Bag O’ Nails presented authentic, first generation American icons like John Lee Hooker and Otis Redding and some of the brightest examples of a swelling wave of emerging British talent such as The Rolling Stones, Jack Bruce and Georgie Fame.

People standing in their gardens two miles away from Woburn Abbey could hear strains of pop music floating on the air… As dusk fell along with the temperature, the Festival attendance reached a peak of over 14,000. Emperor Rosko compered the evening session and swung things along with records and tapes in between sets from Little Women, New Formula, Geno Washington, Tyrannosaurus Rex, the Family, and Jimi Hendrix Experience blasting his way into the midnight hour. Already fires were being built and lit all over the field. With [the] end of Jimi’s set everybody headed for homes, temporary or permanent. On the Sunday morning many of the fans had spread out into the sur*rounding district in search of food and drink. At the Swan Hold. Woburn Sands, landlord Chris Collier dished out pints like there was no tomorrow and the regular customers stood looking amused and bemused by the inrush of long-haired customers….

The line-up for the Saturday afternoon session was as follows. Alexis Korner, Shirley and Dolly Collins, Al Stewart, Roy Harper and Pentangle. It was a very pleasant sunny day, the area was not particularly full. Roy Harper – who in those days was relatively smooth looking , minus most of his hair and facial adornments, He ambled through most of the tunes from his album. Folkjokeopus – Sgt Sunshine, She’s the One ,Exercising Some Control , all great songs. Unfortunately he then decided to finish the set with the very lengthy McGoohans Blues, which although a good song, is 18 minutes long and was just not up-tempo enough for a festival setting. 

Pentangle were the last band of the afternoon session the crowd were knocked out by their on-stage act. They really were not the ideal sort of band for a large festival. For a start, folk bands were often not really amplified loudly enough in those days. All it needed was a reasonable breeze and the wind blew the sound away  and Pentangle’s rather soft sound suffered badly at an outdoor venue. The individual members, each in their own ways masters of their craft Bert Jansch and John Renbourn were just too quiet to capture the attention in this least intimate of settings.I’d love to hear their set again just to pick up on Danny Thompson bass. I wasn’t aware of how good this guy can be until I heard him on John Martyn’s Solid Air a few years later, pure  genius .

New Formula were a bleeding awful sweet soul group and NOBODY liked them. You have to feel sorry for this band , they were given an awful reception . Slow hand clap, whistles, shouts of piss off  I have a vivid memory of some tousle haired Marc Bolan clones down the front throwing toilet rolls at the lead singer, and after a while the band retired hurt. So much for the generation of love. 

The next band on were Family and they were phenomenal they were something out of this world.  Frontman Roger Chapman was so frigging MANIC on-stage, grabbing the mic stand so tightly that he might have been strangling it, cords on the neck strained so tight that it was a wonder he didn’t burst a blood vessel, the sounds issuing forth floored the crowd Chappo was unique.

And the rest of the band! Jim King blowing his brains out on sax, John Whitney on searing lead and steel guitar, Ric Grech on bass and occasional violin and the excellent Rob Townsend on drums , simultaneously elegant and threatening. This was the best line up of Family, and they had a great range of songs, most from their first highly under rated albumMusic from a Dolls House, songs like – Hey Mr Policeman, Me My Friend,  Old Songs New Songs – they were BRILLIANT and many in the audience thought so too.

Tyrannosaurus Rex were fun, if slight. Bolan strummed and churned out his fey little songs with predictable charm and Steve Took provided nice little edges with his bongos. Tyrannosaurus Rex were the staple of many festivals at the time , archetypal hippies, they enjoyed a certain sort of vogue . Bolan and Took went down very well with the audience, so I am probably  in the minority here – but after the concentrated madness of Family it seemed anticlimactic. 

The bill was a pretty eclectic one, veering wildly into the realms of pseudo soul , far out psychedelic rock, psychedelic folksy rock and back to genuine, get down and dance-to-the -music SOUL – in the form of Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band.

  • Geno Washington – vocals
  • Pete Gage – guitar
  • Lionel Kingham – saxophone
  • Buddy Beadle – saxophone
  • Jeff Wright – organ
  • John Roberts- bass guitar
  • Herb Prestidge – drums

These guys laid it down in the alley and, in contrast to the ill fated Little Women, the crowd loved every note of their act  . This was the real thing , but above all , it was dance music and it meant that the crowd could get loose and enjoy themselves.  The use of a good gutsy horn section to punctuate vocal chorus’s  also really pushed the music out there and the fact that Geno was a damn good front man also helped more than somewhat. The band were all gussied up in over the top stage clothes – this was an ACT in every sense of the word and it set the stage more than nicely for the top of the bill,Mr James Marshall Hendrix. Now almost everything that can be said about Jimi’s performance has been said on the excellent Univibes pages on the Woburn festival, Whether the inclusion of Geno Washington on the bill was a deliberate act by the promoters to give the crowd an idea of the sort of bands that Jimi used to play with , I don’t know, but whether it was or not, it certainly put  the audience into a great mood and they were more than enthusiastic about the Hendrix set , which was the only Hendrix concert in the UK in 1968. 

Although the Univibes site rates the show as average ,they are not able to see what went down on-stage , which was pretty outrageous, with Jimi playing the guitar with his teeth , grinding his axe between his legs and generally doing all the things that got the girls horny for him . Given all of that it was a fantastic visual experience and the music certainly seemed great too ,there was rapturous applause as he left the stage and as the crowd streamed off into the night. 

At Woburn, Jimi skipped songs from Axis: Bold As Love altogether, electing instead to ‘jam’ as he called it—kicking off his set with a spirited “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” The trio followed with “Fire,” and despite beset with buzzing, crackles and otherwise unwanted noises throughout their set, The Experience continued to persevere doing their best to surmount the technical problems that hampered an otherwise animated set.

Although opting to bypass music from Axis: Bold As Love, Hendrix did foreshadow his next album at Woburn, stretching out a marvelous 10+ minute version of “Tax Free;” an early contender for Electric Ladyland and a favorite Experience vehicle for improvisation. Hendrix followed up with another extended improvisational rendition of “Red House” before closing the show with a trio of live concert stalwarts “Foxy Lady,” “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” and “Purple Haze.”

In launching into “Purple Haze,” Jimi kicked off a boisterous feedback opening, buttressed by Mitchell and Redding and complete with tremolo bar swoops, wah-wah pedal shadings and soaring dive bomb styled bursts that transitioned seamlessly into the song’s unmistakable opening notes. At its conclusion, the audience roared with approval. While no microphones were positioned to fully capture the intensity of their reaction, their enthusiasm and calls for more can be easily heard through Jimi and Noel’s stage microphones.

The Experience’s performance at Woburn Music Festival would mark the trio’s last performance in England until the two celebrated concerts in February 1969 at the Royal Albert Hall.

Jimi Hendrix July 6th & 7th 1968, Woburn Music Festival, Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire.

Apparently Fleetwood Mac did not turn up, due to other commitments, and the whole Sunday show was wet and badly attended,Apparently there is a sound board recording of the HendrixFamily and Geno Washingtonsets from the Saturday which may be released as a CD sometime.It is even rumoured that theHendrix show was filmed using three cameras. Who knows ,perhaps both of these precious artefacts will be released one day. 

The soundboard recordings have been SOLD ! A rare 1⁄4 inch reel-to-reel master soundboard tape recording of the Jimi Hendrix Experience and others performing at the Woburn Music Festival, Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire, England, 6-7 July, 1968, was offered for sale at Christies. The price realise was £48,050, which probably means that either the music will disappear into a collection or be eventually offered for sale commercially . However since apparently the Hendrix estate were not previously keen to release the Hendrix set (and this may be why the owners have decided to sell the recordings) there would have to be a policy change before this happened.

Recordings and Setlists Woburn Music Festival, 6th July, 1968

Family (29:13 minutes)

  • Me My Friend
  • Old Songs New Songs > How Many More Years (You Gonna Wreck My Life)
  • Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
  • Hey Mr. Policeman
  • Observations (incomplete)

Geno Washington (18:05 minutes)

  • Mony Mony
  • Funk Broadway
  • Rock Me, Baby
  • I Get So Excited
  • Holding On Baby (With Both Hands)
  • Baby Come Back
  • Jumping Jack Flash


The Jimi Hendrix Experience (48:22 minutes)

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (0:42)
  • Fire (3:18)
  • Tax Free (10:10)
  • Red House (10:17)
  • .Foxy Lady (4:12)
  • Voodoo Child (6:05)
  • .Purple Haze (8:00)

 Woburn Music Festival, 7th July, 1968 

Taste (23:21 minutes)

  • Summertime
  • Blister On The Moon
  • I Got My Brand On You
  • Rock Me,>Baby Bye Bye Bird >Baby Please Don’t Go >You Shook Me Baby

This is the earliest professional live recording of this Taste line-up known to exist. After finishing the first song of his set, Rory Gallagher says Thank You 16 times!


Tim Rose (8:57 minutes)

  • I Got A Loneliness
  • Long Time Man (incomplete)

The Jimi Hendrix Experience show at Woburn was professionally recorded on a 7.5 ips, 2-track, mono, reel-to-reel tape. It is not known who actually recorded this tape but the master tape was stored in a small studio in London, where it sat on the shelves among a wall of tapes. In the early 1970s, the studio went bust and an employee rescued some of the tapes before they were destroyed. Additionally, a film crew was present to record the event. Nothing is known of the whereabouts of this footage, but if such footage were to surface it would be an incredible find and a wonderful companion to the recording.

So. the festival come [sic] to an end. unfortunately rather a damp one. How ever a bright note was struck by a message from the Abbey saying that the Duke thought the Festival had been very well organised and he would be happy to see it happen again. A sigh of relief was given all round…. [ attendance of] nearly 8,000 people [on the Sunday for Donovan’s set and more rolled in for the final blues session played in pouring rain.”

Any time fans or critics are asked to pick the most influential and innovative guitarists in rock history, iconic names such as Eric Clapton and Queen’s Brian May invariably crop up. But if you asked those legends which guitar god they themselves respect the most, chances are they’ll cite Rory Gallagher.

Clapton once told the BBC that Gallagher should be credited with “getting me back into the blues”, while in the film What’s Going On: Taste At The Isle Of Wight, Brian May says, “I bought this little AC30 amp and Rangemaster Treble Booster, just like Rory’s set up, and plugged in my own home-made guitar with it. It gave me what I wanted, it made the guitar speak, so it was Rory that gave me my sound.”

May and Clapton are just two of numerous luminaries who have keenly expressed their admiration for the trailblazing Irish guitarist, bandleader and singer-songwriter. He died aged just 47, in 1995, but Rory Gallagher’s music continues to cast a long shadow over rock’n’roll, with fretboard wizards from successive generations.

With his entire solo catalogue about to be reissued on CD and vinyl, fans old and new have an ideal opportunity to re-evaluate Rory Gallagher’s illustrious body of work, yet the much-missed Cork man deserves respect on so many levels, for what he achieved was simply unprecedented.

The young, idealistic, blues-loving Gallagher broke that mould, with his work ethic, self-penned material and incendiary live shows building his band’s reputation from the Shandon Boat Club, in Cork, to London’s famous Marquee, and eventually brokering a deal with Polydor. This dedication led to hit albums such as On The Boards and prestigious shows with Cream at London’s Royal Albert Hall, and at the 1970 Isle Of Wight Festival alongside The WhoJimi HendrixThe Doors and Free.

That Rory Gallagher was the first credible Irish rock musician to make such things possible was acknowledged by Hot Press journalist Dermot Stokes in Marcus Connaughton’s biography, Rory Gallagher: His Life And Times.

“I think that the hugely important thing that Rory did early on in his career was to establish that an Irish band could form, play original material – could do it in Ireland first of all, then could take it to London, then Europe and around the world,” he said. “Taste first of all, then Rory, were the first bands to do that from this country. That’s the fundamental example that they set.”

Other elements of Gallagher’s DNA that set him apart from his contemporaries were his inherent professionalism, discipline and commitment to his craft: essential qualities he exuded throughout his entire career. Rarely happier than when he was on the road, Gallagher toured incessantly during the 70s and 80s, and his best work was often captured on timeless in-concert recordings such as Live In Europe and the live double-album and concert film Irish Tour ’74.

“The great instrumental soloists such as Rory, they were people whose skill I was just in awe of, and that was coupled with considerable musicianship every night,” Irish Tour ’74 director Tony Palmer told Marcus Connaughton. “I think I was the first person ever to film Jimi Hendrix and I’m often asked why. It was because I’d never heard anybody play the guitar like that before! That was why I wanted to make Irish Tour ’74, because Rory’s talent was for a long time underestimated, I felt. He was a wonderful musician and I also liked the fact there was absolutely no bulls__t about him and absolute tunnel vision – very professional, minded very much that we reflected that in the film.”

“He never got above himself,” Rory’s brother and manager Donal Gallagher said in a recent Irish Examiner article marking what would have been the guitarist’s 70th birthday, on 2nd March 2018. “He was very much the man in the street. He lived to be on stage. When he was off-stage, everything was about getting from A to B, getting to the stage or to write. That’s what he was about.”

Of course, with album sales numbering upward of 30 million copies, we should also remember Rory Gallagher’s recordings also yielded considerable commercial success. Yet, chart positions and the trappings of fame were never the driving force for this unassuming figure, whose high-octane live shows contrasted with his shy off-stage demeanour. One of rock’s master craftsmen, Gallagher really cared about his art. He was – and remains – a role model for aspiring young guitarists, and his body of work will inspire generations still to come.

The irreplaceable Irish blues-rock guitar virtuoso Rory Gallagher was a cruelly young 47 when he died after complications from a liver transplant on 14th June 1995.

Order the Rory Gallagher reissues . A limited edition box set of 300 copies, housing all 15 of the albums.

Remembering The Great Rory Gallagher

Legendary Irish guitarist Rory Gallagher died at the age of 47, as a result of a chest infection he picked up following a liver transplant. Gallagher sold over 30 million records and once auditioned for the Rolling Stones when Mick Taylor left the band in 1972.

The irreplaceable Irish blues-rock guitar virtuoso Rory Gallagher was a cruelly young 47 when he died after complications from a liver transplant on 14th June 1995. Rory Gallagher was born in Ballyshannon in County Donegal and raised in Cork. He began to whip up a storm with his guitar sorcery when he co-founded the trio Taste in 1966, when he was a mere 18. When they started to go international, a couple of years later, they won admiring glances from fans of Cream (for whose famed farewell Royal Albert Hall concert they opened) and Blind Faith, the short-lived supergroup on whose North American dates they also guested. Taste were celebrated with the release in August 2015 of the four-CD I’ll Remember box set.

I'll Remember

Taste only lasted until 1970 themselves, but by then they had played at that year’s Isle of Wight Festival and made two studio albums. The second, On The Boards, was a top 20 success in the UK, and when Gallagher swiftly started recording in his own name under a new solo deal with Atlantic Records, he made the top 40 with his self-titled debut and a swift follow-up, Deuce, both in 1971.

They were the first in a long line of releases to win either silver or gold certification, and it’s appropriate that the sole Gallagher album to make the UK top ten was one on which his celebrated, his blistering style as a live performer was commemorated, on 1972’s Live In Europe. That also enjoyed by far his longest chart run, at 15 weeks. The next year, Blueprint gave Rory his initial US album chart appearance.

Never one to court fame for its own sake, Gallagher continued to enhance his awesome reputation with his prolific recording and touring for the rest of his life. His last studio album, his 11th, was 1990’s Fresh Evidence. He had plans to tour the record, release an EP and more besides, at the time of his death.

But it was always all about the music for Rory Gallagher. “Regardless of fashions there are still blues and rockabilly fans,” he told Chris Welch in Metal Hammer in one of his last interviews. “Certainly for a while, the press overlooked rootsy music [which] they thought was old fashioned and irrelevant.

“But what I’m trying to do,” he continued, “is create music that respects the roots, but is based on new material as opposed to just me doing old blues, acid rock standards all the time. That’s the key really, to update the music itself by hitting it on the head, and coming up with new chord changes and tunes.”

In the later years of his life Gallagher developed a phobia of flying. To overcome this he received a prescription for a powerful sedative. This medication, combined with his alcohol use resulted in severe liver damage. Despite this he continued touring. By the time of his final performance on 10th January 1995 in the Netherlands, he was visibly ill and the tour had to be cancelled. Gallagher was admitted to King’s College Hospital in London in March 1995, and it was only then that the extent of his ill-health became apparent: his liver was failing and the doctors determined that in spite of his young age a liver transplant was the only possible course of action. After 13 weeks in intensive care, while waiting to be transferred to a convalescent home, his health suddenly worsened when he contracted a staphylococcal (MRSA) infection, and he died on 14th June 1995, at the age of 47.

Image result for john minihan photos of taste

Taste were formed in the city of Cork. Ireland, by 18-year old Rory Gallagher in 1966. By then Gallagher was a veteran of the Irish show band circuit, He had toured much of Europe and played a residency in Hamburg. With Taste he mixed original material with blues covers, the band’s raw, dynamic sound quickly establishing them In Belfast then London. Just before Taste signed with Polydor Records the band’s management insisted on replacing the Cork rhythm section with drummer John Wilson and bassist Richard McCracken, both veteran Belfast musicians (Wilson had played in Them).

Taste’s exciting live performances set attendance records at London’s Marquee Club and they gained wide European popularity with their eponymous 1969 debut album. 1970 should have been Taste’s year. they released their sophomore album ‘On The Boards’ on January 1st. 1970, to rave reviews across Europe and the US. The band’s work effort and inspired live performances had established Taste truly as a “people’s” band.

Praise for the band – and, especially, Rory Gallagher – came from many noted musicians. John Lennon championed Taste while Jimi Hendrix, when asked how it felt to be the world’s greatest guitarist, replied that he had no idea and the question should be redirected to Rory Gallagher. Yet, internally. Taste were bitterly divided due to differences between Gallagher and the rhythm section over management, money and status. A break-in to the band’s van (only drum pedals were stolen) the night before they headed to IOW brought tensions to a head with Rory emphasising that if management had provided Taste with a superior vehicle (as long requested) the theft wouldn’t have occurred. If tensions were simmering in the van the Southampton ferry crossing on Friday morning provided a sense of exhilaration – they could feel the excitement building as thousands of rock fans gathered for the festival.

Unfortunately, the huge numbers of people arriving on the IOW (population 100,000) meant Taste struggled to get on site in time for their late afternoon set. Things only got worse once there as they became aware the festival was being filmed. their manager threatened to cancel Taste’s performance. But perform they did. taking the stage in perfect conditions. Taste tore into ‘What’s Going On’. The huge audience, until then somewhat subdued in response to the afternoon’s bands, rose to their feet. The ten thousand hours Rory had put in playing live over the past six years ignited a truly explosive performance. Perhaps the inter-band tension also fuelled Taste as the trio played superbly, giving their absolute all. each member listening and responding so creating music alive with excitement and possibility. Electricity was in the air and the audience screamed for an encore. Taste obliged but the audience refused to let them go. One – two – three – encores! Right then everyone bearing witness agreed. Taste were the most exciting live band in the world. Backstage Taste were charged with adrenalin and aware they had achieved something special.

 

Image result for john minihan photos of taste

This is what it’s all about – playing rock and roll like your very life depended on it! But the ill feeling remained and. when photographer John Minihan requested that Taste gather for a portrait, the trio were reluctant. Finally, bassist McCracken said, “come on guys, even if it is the last one” and grabbed Gallagher and Wilson for the photo. Photo taken, Rory and his brother Donal then went off to watch Tony Joe White play. Rory was so impressed he would later include White’s ‘As The Crow Flies’ into his live set. Taste might have had the adulation of an adoring public ringing in their ears but their IOW performance did not heal the band’s divisions and they would confirm that they were to split a few days later.

As Taste were contractually committed to a European tour they continued until a final Belfast concert on New Year’s Eve, 1970. In that tumultuous year their Isle Of Wight performance sealed Taste as more a legend than a band.

words by Garth Cartwright

Taste – August 28th, 1970 Isle Of Wight Festival

00:00 What’s Going On – 5.31 05:31 Sugar Mama (Traditional) – 10.46 16:17 Morning Sun – 4.38 20:55 Gambling Blues (Traditional) – 4.52 25:47 Sinner Boy – 5.41 31:28 I’ll Remember – 8.29 39:57 I Feel So Good (Big Bill Broonzy) – 10.26 50:23 Catfish Blues (Traditional) – 14.14 1:04:37 Same Old Story – 6.54 1:11:31 Blister On The Moon – 7.46 All songs by Rory Gallagher except where stated

Taste Rory Gallagher – Guitars, vocals Richard McCracken – Bass John Wilson – Drums

Generally written off as a Jesus and Mary Chain and Spacemen 3 rip The Telescopes earlier records are a lot more diverse than tag lines may describe. The Telescopes are to shoegaze what The Cro-Mags are to Hardcore. The Cro-Mags started late and therefore benefited from the influence of every major and influential hardcore punk bands of that era. They fused everything that they where influenced by and injected their own new york attitude into it. The Telescopes do a very similar move on their first LP ‘Taste’, and the title itself gives an air of pretension more overt and obvious than the Mary Chain or Spacemen 3 (see also the lyric in There Is No Floor, ‘there is no 13th floor’). The record was released in 1989 and its sound is equally influenced by records like Psychocandy or the Perfect Prescription but these dudes where obviously waaaay stoked on garage punk. Like they are definately down with the Stooges and Iggy Pop but they where probably waaay more excited about The Iguanas or Them. They also have much more of a Rolling Stones influence with a bit of the Buzzcocks

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Our first album Taste. Originally released on What Goes On Records, almost 30 years ago, later re issued on; Cheree Records, RevOla Records/ Cherry Red Records and Bomp Records. Now available to download from our Bandcamp site..

Hippie Hero Rory Gallagher fronts Taste 'Live At The Isle Of Wight ...

Originally formed in Cork, Ireland in 1966 by Rory Gallagher, Taste had a brief but influential career, releasing two studio albums in 1969 and 1970 and disbanding shortly after their legendary appearance at the 1970 Isle Of Wight Festival, which is the centerpiece of this film. The core of What s Going On is the band s performance at the festival on August 28th but it is encapsulated by a documentary on the history and importance of Taste and setting the scene for their Isle Of Wight Festival appearance.

Academy Award winning Director, Murray Lerner explores Irelands seminal rock band ‘Taste’ with unseen footage from the trio’s now legendary performance at the Isle Of Wight Festival 1970. The festival at the Isle of Wight was to Europe what Woodstock was to the USA. Many problems came about as more rock fans than tickets available came to this usually peaceful island just off the coast of Portsmouth, England. The festival was held at East Afton farm in Freshwater, on the 13- by 23-mile island off the coast of Southern England. This was considered the last monster tribal gathering — the five-day 1970 Isle of Wight Festival — where 600,000 mostly stoned flower children turned ugly in obnoxious displays of hippie self-righteousness.” 

Many of the biggest rock stars of the time appeared at this festival including The Who, Free, Donovan, Ten Years After, The Moody Blues, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Leonard Cohen and Jethro Tull, and ELP. Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison of the Doors made their last live stage appearance here. 

Taste played through the madness of this giant concert where those who did not have tickets rushed and crashed the gates. ‘Taste Live at the Isle of Wight’ has some wonderful songs by Rory Gallagher and a cover for blues star Broonzy in “I Feel So Good.” Originally formed in Cork, Ireland in 1966 by Rory Gallagher, Taste had a brief but influential career, releasing two studio albums in 1969 and 1970 and disbanding shortly after their legendary appearance at the 1970 Isle Of Wight Festival. This expanded CD is released to coincide with the newly restored 16mm film footage appearing on DVD & Blu-ray. It includes four additional tracks which were not included on the original 1971 album. Rory Gallagher would go on to enjoy an acclaimed and highly successful solo career and this electrifying show by Taste is an early example of Rory s justified reputation as the ultimate live performer.

Live at the Isle of Wight is the fourth album and second live album by Irish rock band Taste, released in 1971.[1] It was recorded live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 and released after the band broke up.

Taste could have been on top of the world musically, this performance proves they were a force to take notice of, Rory Gallagher’s playing is inspired, there was a sound made I could not identify until I saw it on the film, Rory actually hitting the strings with the palm of his hand makes this sound. John Wilson on drums leaning in so as not to miss any notes he counters to Rory’s, the same with Richie McCracken on bass, Rory leading and they match him note for note on their instruments, Rory pulls them along with unspoken “you can do this”. They played on Friday afternoon, a lot of the crowd hadn’t arrived by then, after What’s Going On (the opening number) the appreciation starts to grow, by the time they leave the stage (for the first time) after I Feel So Good, the crowd are roaring, its like an avalanche or tidal wave, the crowd know they are witnessing something they will never see again, I reckon they could literally have played all night, the crowd would have demanded they stay on stage.

On the way to the festival, due to appallingly bad management, Rory had decided to break up the band, so they played on stage like they were possessed. It is the most amazing, mind blowing, awesome, tremendous set ever, inventive, as Rory introduces Gamblin’ Blues he says “we would like to do a bit of bottleneck, hope you like it” – the crowd didn’t like it THEY LOVED IT. I know of one of my friends who was actually at this festival and he waited 45 years to hear it again

Track listing[edit]

  1. What’s Going On” – 5:41
  2. Sugar Mama” (Trad. arr. by Rory Gallagher) – 10:18
  3. “Morning Sun” – 4:31
  4. “Sinner Boy” – 5:31
  5. “I Feel So Good” (Big Bill Broonzy) – 10:10
  6. “Catfish” (Trad. arr. by Rory Gallagher) – 14:26
  • All tracks composed by Rory Gallagher except where indicated.