By Steve Newton
Life is full of unanswered questions. Like, is there life after death? Are UFOs real?
And why the hell isn’t Rory Gallagher in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
I’ve been asking that last question for a few years now, via various blog posts, and the usual response from dedicated Gallagher fans is: who cares? They tend to believe that Rory’s fierce talent and modest outlook took him beyond the realm of awards and accolades; that if certain institutions refused to recognize him, too bad for them.
But I still think it would be nice to see him in the RRHOF. And anyone who hears the new Blues collection would be hard-pressed to deny that the Irish guitar hero is deserving of induction. Somebody should send Rock Hall gatekeeper Jann Wenner the new CD, so he’ll finally clue in to Rory’s greatness. He sure the hell ain’t gettin’ my copy.
Released today, and boasting 32 previously unissued tracks, Blues is Rory Gallagher’s love letter to the music that most influenced his own. The three-CD, mostly live package opens with a rip-roaring version of Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Don’t Start Me Talkin'”, and includes blues classics by Sleepy John Estes, John Lee Hooker, Big Bill Broonzy, Willie Dixon, Son House, and Muddy Waters, as well as Rory’s own arrangements of traditional blues tunes like “I Could Have Had Religion” and “Bullfrog Blues”.
Throughout the first CD Gallagher’s incendiary Strat work is delivered with his typical off-the-cuff vibe, while CD 2 focuses on his stellar acoustic-slide skills, with the singer-guitarist performing mostly solo on self-penned tracks like “Who’s That Coming” and “Should Have Learnt My Lesson”.
CD 3 finds him back with his core band–most often perennial bassist Gerry McAvoy, drummer Rod de’Ath, and pianist Lou Martin–tearing it up on concert faves like Junior Wells’ “Messin’ With the Kid”. Another highlight sees him sharing the stage with the great Albert King on the equally great B.B.‘s “You Upset Me Baby”.
“I know I’m not Elmore James or Muddy Waters,” Gallagher is quoted as saying in Blues‘ liner notes, “but I certainly have the power to enlighten people to their music, and on top of that, hopefully end up with something that stands up as my own document. At some point, when I’m 40 or 50 I hope I’ll have a very distinct sound, as Elmore or Muddy did, so that when you turn on the radio–that’s Rory Gallagher!”
Mission accomplished, Mr. Gallagher. Rock Hall-inducted or not, you are a stunning musical gem that gets more and more precious as the years go passing by.