By Dave Thompson
When Irish guitarist Rory Gallagher hit his homeland tour circuit in 1974, he was at the peak of his power and his popularity. Readers of the weekly Melody Maker had just elected him the number one guitarist in the world, and it is a mark of the respect that Gallagher had garnered that you’d travel a long way to find anybody who disagreed.
If ever there was a right time for Gallagher to record a live album, this was it.
Recorded earlier in that banner year, the two LP “Irish Tour,” and the companion “Irish Tour ’74” concert movie live up to all expectations. In terms of rawness, the vinyl was the way to go; it captured the sound of Gallagher and band as they sounded every night, tight and turbulent, mixed with the magic of a tiny club PA and loud enough to make you sweat in your living room. The movie, shot by Tony Palmer, is a more considered affair; studio fixes and overdubs cleaned things up for what would become one of the best-loved rock flicks of the ’70s. But even here, the polish could not disguise the purity. This is still the blues at their most electrifyingly effortless, and the fact that the two releases shared just six (of 19) tracks ensured that fans had to grab them both.
Reissued as a single CD and a DVD, the two retain their power, with the latter rendered even more potent via the inclusion of an Irish television documentary shot on the road two years earlier, and rounding up another five tracks. And this is just the start of a reissue program that Eagle promises will see Gallagher’s entire catalog remastered and released. It’s going to be a busy year!