[amtap amazon:asin=B003XMKN8Q] Put bluntly, you’re missing out if you aren’t intimately familiar with the music of Rory Gallagher. The greatest electric bluesman Ireland ever produced, Gallagher’s name should be mentioned in quick succession with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton but such is the world’s general ignorance that Gallagher remains a beloved cult figure rather than a household name – admired beyond reason by musicians like Slash, Johnny Marr, Shooter Jennings and myriad others, and adored by his fans in a way that transcends superlatives. Despite passing in 1995, it would be hard to find blues rock more vibrant and relevant than his, and this new compilation of performances culled from three appearances between 1971-1972 on the German TV program Beat Club arrives like an early book in Gallagher’s gospel, a distortion touched, freight train barreling set of scripture that further confirms his place in the pantheon.
Comprised of staples from Gallagher’s early solo repertoire after he left the band Taste, The Beat Club Sessions (released September 14 on Eagle Records) rattles and cries with the same impassioned perfection as Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs albeit with less polish, a rough ‘n’ tumble energy running through the proceedings in pleasant contrast to Gallagher’s later blinding fluidity. Yet even early on he possessed a knack for breathless runs that strike to the heart of the blues and make them relevant to the rockers.
Blasting out of gate with classic sad-sack tale Laundromat, this set never eases up, the compilers cherry-picking only the ripest fruits from Rory’s many Beat Club appearances. Sinnerboy and I Could’ve Had Religion contain slide work of the sort that’s made Duane Allman such a celebrated figure, and his gift for swiftly shifting melody comes to the fore on Crest of a Wave and Just The Smile. While many archival releases feel like frozen moments snatched out of time – a touch musty and fixed in another age — The Beat Club Sessions leaps out of the speakers to whip one around like a beautiful electrical storm.
The video version of this set contains four additional performances, and is paired with the phenomenal new documentary Ghost Blues: The Story of Rory Gallagher, which the Impound will explore soon.