Review: Rory Gallagher – Deuce 50th Anniversary Edition Deluxe Box Set
UMC (September 30th, 2022)
Reviewer: Chris O’Connor
When I was but a callow youth – maybe no more than 12-13. One of my first Rock T-shirts was bought from a t-shirt print shop while on holiday in Padstow In Cornwall. It bore an image of Rory G, in a striped shirt, wailing on his battered ‘Strat – with the logo that read ‘Land Of Dope & Rory’ – I wore it to death for years … I’d kill to find another one! My first Rory G album was his ’74 ‘Live In Europe’ Magnum Opus – I still own my vinyl copy.
To this day, and I have always bought every one of his releases I can find – with an almost religious fervour – he remains a guitar god to the grown man – just as he was to that young boy. To me, he is the epitome of a true guitar hero, using only minimal pedals, while making his Stratocaster roar through his ever-loyal Vox AC30 side-valve amp.
Some of my most treasured memories are seeing him ‘live’ – from the Birmingham Odeon in both ’78 and ‘80, to the Reading Festival in 1980, The Hammersmith Odeon in ’87, the Birmingham Powerhouse in ’88, and finally the Blues Festival in Portsmouth in ’93, which – I think – was his last ever UK date, he would be dead two short years later, aged just 47! As I write those words, it’s so hard to imagine that it’s nearly 30 years since he died!
So as hard as it is to comprehend – Rory’s sophomore album is now half a century old, and we now have this splendid multi-cd boxset … mine all mine! Recorded at the time with his trusty lieutenant Gerry McAvoy on bass guitars, and for this era, Wilgar Campbell occupied the drum throne – who would appear on the live album that followed, but who would be gone before ‘Blueprint’ was recorded. Oh good lord, I am such a nerd for remembering all that!
Rory’s avowed intent was always to try to capture the sheer intensity of his live shows in the studio, but truth be told (and I am a huge fan), he really never quite managed it, and ‘Deuce’ is a prime example of this conundrum.
This 4CD set combines the original (but remastered) studio album, and an absolute wealth of extras, from studio outtakes, demo tracks, alternate versions, a radio session, and a live concert – what more could you possibly ask for? At the time, ‘Deuce’ was not critically acclaimed, though over the decades, the album has been favorably reassessed, with luminaries such as Johnny Marr citing it as a major influence on themselves and their careers.
There is a glorious rawness to the album, even before it was remastered, it had a primal energy, now it sounds sonically unfettered. Some of my all-time favourite Gallagher songs are found here: ‘Used To Be’, ‘I’m Not Awake Yet’, ‘In Your Town’, ‘There’s A Light’, and ‘Crest Of A Wave’ – all of which highlight why Rory was such an absolute genius as a guitarist. His lyrics were always powerful and potent – never flights of fancy, and again, ‘Deuce’ showcases his talents magnificently – there is a genuinely hardened urgency that pours through his voice, it’s impassioned stuff – as would always be the case.
Trying to guide you through everything essential here would take thousands of words – but the 12-string acoustic reworking of ‘Whole Lot Of People’ is magnificent as a starter. The alternate take of ‘There’s A Light’ is captivating, as is the alternate recording of ‘Should’ve Learnt My Lesson’. The demo of ‘Don’t Know Where I’m Going’ is amazing, while the Radio Bremen take of ‘Messin’ With The Kid’ shows yet again why it became such a staple of his live set throughout the years. Finally, the truly epic live take of ‘I Could’ve Had Religion’ is simply one of the best things I’ve heard this year -Rory’s exquisite slide guitar work and deft fretwork highlighting his blues roots to perfection … I get goosebumps every time I hear it … it’s incendiary stuff. The four-disc set contains 55 songs, and should be a mandatory purchase for guitarists and music fans everywhere. Completely and utterly brilliant!
Rory Gallagher’s ‘Deuce 50thAnniversary Box Set” is available from: here
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