Sunday, 15 April 2012

"Tattoo" by RORY GALLAGHER (January 2012 Sony/Capo/Legacy CD Reissue In Card Digipak - Andy Pearce and Matt Wortham Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...The Joint Is Jumping All Around Me…" 

Under the supervision of Donal Gallagher (his older brother and former tour manager) - Irish guitar hero RORY GALLAGHER had his LP back-catalogue first reissued onto CD between 1998 and 2000. Each of those RCA/Capo releases came in jewel cases and had previously unreleased bonus tracks. The campaign culminated with a tremendous outtakes compilation in 2003 called "Wheels Within Wheels".

This latest version of "Tattoo" (his 4th studio album for Polydor) is one of six 'new' remasters released to coincide with the 40th Anniversary of his Solo career (list below). So what's different? In a nutshell - cheaper price, upgraded packaging and 2011 mastering (and proper track placing too). Here are the finite details...

UK and Europe released 16 January 2012 in the UK (31 Jan 2012 in the USA) - "Tattoo" by RORY GALLAGHER on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88691917462 (Barcode 886919174624) comes in a card digipak rather than a jewel case.

1. Tattoo’d Lady
2. Cradle Rock
3. 20:20 Vision
4. They Don’t Make Them Like You Anymore
6. Sleep On A Clothes-Line
7. Who’s That Coming [Side 2]
8. A Million Miles Away
9. Admit It
The original vinyl album was released November 1973 in the UK on Polydor Super 2383 230 and Polydor PD 5539 in the USA (it charted at number 32 in England and number 187 in the States).

The two bonus tracks that first appeared on the 2000 CD reissue ("Tucson, Arizona" and "Just A Little Bit") have been reduced to one for this 2012 version - "Tucson, Arizona". Just to be a bit more confusing - those two bonuses and a 'third' track on the 2000 edition of "Irish Tour" are all tied-in and need some explanation.

"Tucson, Arizona" is a genuine album-sessions outtake from the period so it warranted its placing on the original "Tattoo" CD - as it does here. "Just A Little Bit", however, was the last track on Side 4 of the original "Irish Tour '74" double album. Released in July 1974 the classic 2LP set consisted of 3 sides Live and two loose 'Studio Jams' on Side 4 - one of which was the near eight-minute "Just A Little Bit" - a blistering cover of a 1959 Roscoe Gordon R'n'B number on Vee Jay. It should of course have been on the last track on the "Irish Tour" CD - but on that 2000 reissue fans were baffled to see it replaced with a new thing called "Maritime". Big mistake. Named after a bar in Belfast that both Rory and Van Morrison played in - "Maritime" turned out to be a mere snippet - a useless 33-second instrumental that was gone as fast as it was forgettable. Why it was put on there is anyone's guess. For this series of reissues - Donal Gallagher has had the right songs put on the right issues and the correct artwork reinstated (for “Irish Tour ‘74”). If you actually want the "Maritime" outtake - you will need to keep your old 2000 issue of "Irish Tour".

So what of the bonus track we do have - misspelled on the 2000 CD artwork as "Tuscon..." instead of "Tucson..." - that rather obvious spelling error hasn't been corrected for the new issue (a little sloppy really). "Tucson, Arizona" is a Link Wray cover version that first appeared on Link's lesser-seen "Be What You Want To" album from July 1974 on Polydor. Gallagher's take is more like whimsical Ronnie Lane and Slim Chance circa 1974 - and is so un-Rory-like. But as a bonus it's an interesting addition and shows another side to his musical interests that he didn't often get the chance to express on his official releases. And as I say "Just A Little Bit" is now back where it belongs - as the last track on the "Irish Tour '74" CD (the 2012 issue that is).

The gatefold card sleeve repros the colour artwork of the original vinyl album (front and rear) while the booklet is again 8 pages and features the same Donal Gallagher liner notes that were on the 2000 issue. There's a collage of photos of Rory taken by MICHAEL PUTLAND and RICHARD UPPER - but little that is new. It has to be said the card digipak is nice to look at and retailing at less than six quid (and even less online) - it's a cheap way of acquiring the music - as opposed to a now rare original album.

The initial 2000 CD was 'remixed and remastered' by Tony Arnold at Courthouse Facilities in Dorset - these are 'untampered' versions remastered by ANDY PEARCE and MATT WORTHAM at Wired Masters in the UK in November 2011 (51:00 minutes total playing time). Andy and Matt have been involved in and received praise for remasters of Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, Frankie Miller, Wishbone Ash and The Kinks (many of which I've reviewed). For these reissues the original 1/4 master tapes have been returned to - therefore giving the fans the album Rory himself would have approved rather than the slightly 'altered' preceding version. The new sound quality is superb - very clean and ballsy - and not as trebled up as the initial release.

"Tattoo" was also the 2nd album to feature the four-piece line-up that added Lou Martin's keyboards to Rory's overall sound. It was a big improvement over the slightly lacklustre "Blueprint" LP released earlier that same year - mostly because the songs were so much better - and in many cases - real growers. Among the 9 self-penned songs highlights included the rocking opener "Tattoo'd Lady", the acoustic strut of "20:20 Vision" and the much loved blues ambler "A Million Miles Away" (lyrics above) which is one of those rare outings that features him on Saxophone. I've also loved revisiting the boogie of "Sleep On A Clothes-Line" and "Admit It".

Like most Irishmen, I can't be rational about Rory Gallagher. I saw him and his band as a teenager live in Dublin in the early Seventies and the experience was mind-blowing. I then bought every album he ever put out after that and always looked forward to hearing where his flying fingers would take me next.

Rory was sadly lost to us in 1995 through liver failure - and it still hurts to think that this most unassuming and brilliant of guitar heroes is gone. "Tattoo" is a great way to remember him - and frankly the other 5 titles listed below are pretty much the same.

In 1975 he then signed to Chrysalis and released an absolute belter - "Against The Grain" - the first album in my opinion to unleash the awesome power he had on stage but in the studio. I'm hoping it's in the next vanguard of digipak CD reissues. And great googly moo - am I looking forward to that.

Rock on you beautiful axeman...

The Eleven Titles in the 2012 RORY GALLAGHER Remasters Series 
- CD Digipaks, Downloads and 'Music On Vinyl' LPs:

16 January 2012 CD DIGIPAK and DOWNLOAD:
1. "Rory Gallagher" (May 1971 debut) – released January 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88691917352 (Barcode 886919173529)
2. "Deuce" (November 1971 2nd studio LP) – released January 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88691917372 (Barcode 886919173727)
3. "Live! In Europe" (May 1972 1st Live LP) – released January 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88691917432 (Barcode 886919174328)
4. "Blueprint" (February 1973, 3rd studio album) – released January 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88691917452 (Barcode 886919174526)
5. "Tattoo" (November 1973, 4th studio album) – released January 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88691917462 (Barcode 886919174625)
6. "Irish Tour '74" (July 1974, 2nd Live Set, 2LPs onto 1CD) – released January 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88691917472 (Barcode 886919174724)

27 February 2012 VINYL:
1 to 6 above also released 27 February 2012 on Limited Edition 180-gram vinyl versions on the "Music On Vinyl" Label

24 September 2012 CD DIGIPAK and DOWNLOAD:
7. "Against The Grain" (October 1975, 5th studio album) – released September 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88725461492 (Barcode 887254614920)
8. "Calling Card" (August 1976, 6th studio album) – released September 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88725461472 (Barcode 887254614722)
9. "Photo-Finish" (October 1978, 7th studio album) – released September 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88725461462 (Barcode 887254614623)
10. "Top Priority" (September 1979, 8th studio album) – released September 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88725461452 (Barcode 88725461452)
11. "Jinx" (April 1982) – released September 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88725461432 (Barcode 887254614326)

22 October 2012 VINYL:
7 to 11 above also released 22 October 2012 on Limited Edition 180-gram vinyl versions on the "Music On Vinyl" Label

PPS: Most of the eleven above have been reissued since 2012 in standard jewel cases but have different catalogue numbers and barcodes. The jewel case version of "Deuce" for instance is Barcode 886919369625 and also has the restored artwork, picture CD and expanded booklet of the digipak 2012 issue. But if you want the 'digipak' repro artwork versions – be sure to use the Barcodes provided above when ordering... 

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