Great Rock Albums of 1981: Rory Gallagher- Stage Struck
I must confess that I’m cheating a little bit here. I never heard of Rory Gallagher until 1982 when the ship I was on played a concert video of him live at Montreux. Even then, the video didn’t name the brilliant guitarist who was kicking so much ass in the video. It was another four months before I finally learned his name. Because I saw the video so early in that year, I naturally assumed that the concert took place in 1981 and it was in support of an album he released in the year. However, I learned that “Stage Struck” was actually released in the tail end of 1980. Therefore, to quote from “Full Metal Jacket:” “That’s why God passed the law of probability.” I can infer that because I was still serving on a ship at the time, I wouldn’t have known about this album until early 1981 and that is why I am including it in this year.
I can’t say that any of the songs from this album were recorded from the concert I watched. There is a “Live At Montreux” that was released in the later years but that’s irrelevant here. Because “Stage Struck” is a brilliant live album that showcases the music and talent of this wonder. The majority of the songs on it are from his last two studio albums, “Top Priority” (I’m kicking myself for not visiting that one in 1979) and “Photo Finish,” which I did. It’s no wonder this album is so good.
He opens the show with a song that if he was still alive and could play at my dream festival, it would be in his contract that he opens his set with “Shin Kicker.” It is also the opener for the “Photo Finish” album and there is no better song in which to open a concert or show. It’s one of those that grabs you by the balls and makes you give it your undivided attention. Nor do you get time to rest before the second one, “Wayward Child” takes over and you’re rocking away to it. Right after that, there is probably my all time favourite Rory Gallagher song, “Brute Force and Ignorance.” A great blues/rock gem that features some great guitar work. But the guitar display doesn’t end there. The next three tracks are all big blues rockers with him soloing away to the point that you are left feeling breathless. The last two songs, “Last of the Independents” and “Shadow Play” are great songs from the “Photo Finish” album that take the album to the climax. I can’t say conclusion because if I was at the concert and it ended here, I would have my lit cigarette lighter and held it aloft screaming for more.
1. Shin Kicker
2. Wayward Child
3. Brute Force and Ignorance
5. Follow Me
6. Bought and Sold
7. Last of the Independents
8. Shadow Play
Rory Gallagher- vocals, guitar, harmonica
Gerry McAvoy- bass
Ted McKenna- drums
I believe that Rory Gallagher never quite got the total recognition he should have. I know many Americans who have never heard of him and that’s a shame. Rory was a great guitarist and a decent singer. One concert video from more than thirty years ago, still remains strong in my memory and the albums I have posted here also bear witness to his greatness.
Next post: Laina Dawes book- “What Are You Doing Here?” My thoughts
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