ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, MAY 17, 2011
By Steve Newton
Rory Gallagher fanatics have had a lot to be thankful for of late. Last September saw the release of Ghost Blues: The Story of Rory Gallagher, a revealing documentary that covered the Irish rock hero’s entire career, and included commentary from such huge Gallagher fans as Slash, the Edge, Bill Wyman, and Sir Bob Geldof. And then just last month Irish Tour ’74, a concert film that captured Gallagher when he was 28 years old and at the very top of his game, was issued on Blu-ray. Even more than Ghost Blues, Irish Tour ’74 was a godsend for fans of stunning, one-of-a-kind blues-rock guitar.
Now Eagle Rock Entertainment is continuing its noble quest of keeping Gallagher’s music alive by issuing the two-CD set Notes From San Francisco, which hit stores today. It includes previously unavailable studio tracks Gallagher laid down in Frisco in 1977 with his power trio of bassist Gerry McAvoy and drummer Rod de’Ath, along with keyboardist Lou Martin, electric violinist Joe O’Donnell on one song, and saxophonist Martin Fiero on two.
As outlined in the above YouTube clip, Gallagher wasn’t happy with the way the album was mixed, which led to it being shelved. His misgivings aside, there is some damn fine music in those grooves, tracks like “Overnight Bag”, the bluesy “Fuel to the Fire”, and the poignant “Wheels Within Wheels” emerging as highlights.
Notes From San Francisco‘s second disc is a concert recorded in ’79 at Frisco’s Old Waldorf with McAvoy and then-new drummer Ted McKenna, whose credits include the Sensational Alex Harvey Band and the Michael Schenker Group. That smoking set is worth the price of admission alone, with the trio tearing it up on such Gallagher standards as “Calling Card”, “Shadow Play”, “Bullfrog Blues”, and “Tattoo’d Lady”, which gets a particulary revved-up treatment.