Rory Gallagher's Notes from San Francisco

Categories: Albums we like
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The back story: in the fall of 1977, at the end of a six-month world tour behind Calling Card, the Irish blues-rocker Rory Gallagher flew his band to San Francisco. The intention was to record a new album but within months the project was scrapped and the band dismantled. Gallagher, it is said, did not care for Elliot Mazer's production.

Rory who? Long forgotten by all but the last of his loyal and by now AARP card-carrying followers, Gallagher sold nearly 30 million records before his death in 1995.

Meanwhile, as the story goes, Gallagher had seen the Sex Pistols at the Winterland in 1977, liked their energy, and decided to form a three-piece power trio of his own. As such, he recorded Photo Finish in 1978 in Germany and San Francisco. The trio also recorded a four night stand at the Waldorf in December of the next year.

And why, you may ask, is any of this of interest now? Because those "lost" San Francisco session tapes (plus the Waldorf gig tapes) were brought out of storage, remixed, and released in June, thereby giving the late guitarist voice again as part of Eagle Rock's re-release of Gallagher's catalogue.

It's been called the Holy Grail, Notes from San Francisco, and it is considered to be the missing link in a progression of albums made while the Irish rocker was still on top.

"Rue the Day," "B Girl," and "Wheels Within Wheels" are all relics from the long-gone time when loud electric blues guitars were king. The live tracks include classics like "Bullfrog Blues," "Tattoo'd Lady" and "Calling Card," museum pieces, really, that once served as inspiration to a future generation of guitarists.

Many learned to clone Gallagher's fretboard technique but none would ever match his frantic energy; by the end of his days, Gallagher was said to have rubbed the finish completely off of his favorite guitar. If the twin discs in Notes from San Francisco prove anything it is that nobody plays like that any more and possibly, nobody ever will.

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