Great Rock Albums, 1978: Rory Gallagher- Photo Finish

It was 1982 when I first discovered Rory Gallagher and then it was several months later before I learned his name.  The encounter happened when I was on sea duty in the marines. The ship’ s onboard tv station would show anything that came to hand, the many reruns of  the then popular sitcom “Alice” laid proof to that. One evening, when expecting the same, I saw a three piece band on the television, with most of the camera focused on the guitarist/singer. I didn’t know who they were and there was much speculation among my fellow marines, but what we all agreed was, these guys could jam. The guitarist especially was “bitchin’.”

A few months later, the mystery as to who had rocked us out was finally solved. While on liberty in Barcelona, Spain, we were in a bar that decorated its walls with album covers. I could amaze you with some of the great albums that were stuck on them, but I won’t. However, in amongst those albums was the “Photo Finish” album by Rory Gallagher. Fortunately, we weren’t drunk enough yet so we could all look and agree that the person on the front cover of the album was that guitar ace who had dazzled us a few months earlier. Unfortunately, I waited a month to when I went home on leave to purchase this album and being Sound Odyssey in South Jersey, they had no clue what I meant and said they couldn’t get it. (Probably weren’t bothered.) But there is a happy ending. Four years later, I came to the UK and saw that this album was still readily available. Needless to say, I purchased it there and then and haven’t regretted it since.

Not only should Rory Gallagher have been included in my “Great Guitarists of the 70s” post many months ago, he also is number one on my list of “Great acts who never made it in America.” Many Americans, although I am bracing myself for replies to the contrary, haven’t heard of Rory Gallagher and know what a great musician he was. I say “was” because his death in 1995 robbed the world of yet another great musician.

“Photo Finish” is proof in the pudding of what a great guitarist Rory Gallagher was. Each of the tracks on this album displays a unique riff coming from his talented hand and every track on it shines in its own way. Unlike a lot of albums, I can subvocalise most of the songs and am right now playing them in my head. Obviously some stand out more than others. My favourites are “Shin Kicker,” “Brute Force and Ignorance,” “The Mississippi Sheiks,” “Cloak and Dagger” and “Shadow Play.”

Track Listing:

1. Shin Kicker

2. Brute Force and Ignorance

3. Cruise on Out

4. Cloak and Dagger

5. Overnight Bag

6. Shadow Play

7. The Mississippi Sheiks

8. Last of the Independents

9. Fuel to the Fire

10. Early Warning

11. Juke Box Annie


Rory Gallagher- guitar/vocals

Gerry McAvoy- bass

Ted McKenna- drums

For a classic blues based album, this is one of the best. It shows that Rory Gallagher deserves his place along with the greatest guitarists. For metal heads, there are some great rocking moments on it as well, another reason why it appeals to so many. “Photo Finish” is definitely, for many Americans anyway, a great undiscovered gem.

Next post: Patty Smith- Easter

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle

 p.s. I have just learned from a friend that when Jimi Hendrix was asked in an interview at Woodstock what it was like to be the world’s greatest guitarist, he responded with “I don’t know, ask Rory Gallagher.”

7 Responses to “Great Rock Albums, 1978: Rory Gallagher- Photo Finish”

  1. Rory Gallagher, the ultimate Guitar Hero. He gave up everything for the sake of the music. This is one American who will always remember the late, Great, Irish legend


  2. A colleague recommended me to your website. Thnx for the details.


  3. I wonder why other writers don’t write this kind of article in easier to understand language like you. Thank you for writing this great article.


  4. Incidentally, the album’s sleeve image is an original postcard Rory Gallagher posted to his mother while on tour. Gallagher would always send postcards back home to Ireland from wherever he was in the world. The Limited Edition Deluxe Edition of ‘Notes From San Francisco’ will include a set of personalised Rory postcards complete with ‘Rory Stamps’ which have been sourced from the original US company that produced them.


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