Tuesday, 25 September 2012

"Against The Grain" by RORY GALLAGHER (September 2012 Sony/Capo/Legacy CD Reissue - Andy Pearce and Matt Wortham Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"…Can You Hear That Sound…"

"Against The Grain" is one of five new 2012 CD, Download and Vinyl reissues covering Rory Gallagher's 'studio' album period at Chrysalis Records between 1975 and 1979. His Polydor Label years (1971 to 1974) were released in full in January 2012 (see list below). The next set of studio and live album reissues are due in early 2013 - all supervised by Donal Gallagher - his brother, tour manager and keeper of the flame.

So what's different? In a nutshell - cheaper price, restored artwork with upgraded packaging and 2012 remastering from the original tapes. Here are the finite details...

Released 24 September 2012 in the UK (9 October 2012 in the USA) - "Against The Grain" by RORY GALLAGHER is on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88725461492 (Barcode 887254614920) and comes in a card digipak rather than a jewel case with two bonus tracks. They originally showed up (previously unreleased at the time) on the 1999 CD version (49:28 minutes total playing time).

1. Let Me In
2. Cross Me Off Your List
3. Ain’t Too Good
4. Souped-Up Ford
5. Bought And Sold
6. I Take What I Want [Side 2]
7. Lost At Sea
8. All Around Man
9. Out On The Western Plain
10. At The Bottom
The original vinyl album was released October 1975 in the UK and USA on Chrysalis CHR 1098 (it charted at number 121 in the States). "Against The Grain" marked his debut for the British label Chrysalis Records.

11. Cluney Blues
12. My Baby, Sure

When "Against The Grain" was first re-issued on CD by Da Capo in February 1999 - the tapes were remixed and remastered by Tony Arnold - giving it a sound some found a little shrill. That first reissue also altered the original artwork in a terrible way. This time the original tapes have been returned to by ANDY PEARCE and MATT WORTHAM and remastered as 'untampered' versions in August 2012 at Wired Masters Studios in London - and little is going to prepare Gallagher fans for this. They've done a fantastic job. Right from the opening explosion of "Let Me In" - the sound is so full of power and incredible clarity - and stays that way to the end...

...And how good is to see the back of the dreadful artwork that blighted the 1999 reissue (in fact all 5 of the gatefold digipaks are gorgeous to look at - proper repros of the original LPs). The foldout 3-way inlay of old has been replaced in 2012 by a 12-page booklet with Donal Gallagher's song-by-song liner notes reproduced again. But as well as other colour photos - there's two new inclusions - CAMERON CROWE'S wonderful appraisal of Rory and the album from The Rolling Stone magazine in 1976 - and a review of the LP by SIMON FRITH in the same issue. The card digipak repros the lovely original album artwork (back and front), the CD itself is a picture disc and there's even a new photo beneath the see-through plastic tray. And priced at roughly a fiver sterling - this is a classy little reissue for not a lot of wonga.

The album was self-produced and featured the line-up that had been with him since "Blueprint" in 1973 - GERRY McAVOY on Bass, LOU MARTIN on Keyboards and ROD De'ATH on Drums. Rory covered everything else - Vocals, Guitars and Harmonica.

The 10-track LP had 7 originals and three brilliantly chosen cover versions - Sam and Dave's Stax hit "I Take What I Want", Leadbelly's lonesome Blues "Out On The Western Plain" and a stunning slide guitar/harmonica working of "All Around Man" by Bo Carter of The Mississippi Sheiks (a 1930's Black Vocal Group Rory greatly admired).

For me "Against The Grain" was the first studio album to capture the sheer guitar-blast of Rory Gallagher live. Even now the six-and-a-half-minute slide mayhem of "Souped-Up Ford" is absolutely astonishing - roaring out of your speakers like it’s going to soil the furniture. He lets it rip - as does Lou Martin on keys - and it's hair-raising stuff. "Bought & Sold" may have referred back to the bitterness he still felt about the treatment of TASTE (his band) - but it was a chipper little rocker - and became a staple of his live set from 1975 onwards. "Lost At Sea" is unusual and a real grower - an almost Prog feel to the odd chord changes in it (fab clarity on the bass and drums). His acoustic take of Huddy Ledbetter's Cowboy song "Out On The Western Plain" is eerily clear - squeaking of chairs and strings - beautiful sound now. But I have to admit to a fave. I used to go to a Saturday night dance in Dublin in Clontarf called "The Grove" (there's a YouTube program on it done by RTE) where his joyous cover of Sam & Dave's "I Take What I Want" ended each Summer evening in a blaze of longhair and sweat. Yum yum...

The two bonus tracks that ended the 1999 reissue reappear again too - "Cluney Blues" is a jaunty instrumental while "My Baby, Sure" is a Rockabilly tune with some great fun dialogue before it starts...

For many - Rory's classic period was with Polydor Records in the early Seventies - and like so many fans - I adore those albums with a passion. But having just waded through all 5 of these 24 Sep 2012 reissues of his Chrysalis studio records - I'm absolutely blown-away by how good they are. While so many rock acts floundered (especially after 1975) - Rory just kept putting out one gem after another. If anything - I'm tempted to say that these albums are where his real genius lies.

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'm actually in the audience at Dublin on Irish Tour '74). 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. "Against The Grain" is a gem - and frankly "Calling Card" from 1976 is even better.

Whole-heartedly recommended...and what a blindingly great player he was. In fact if you want an inkling of his astonishing playing - check out YouTube footage of him playing “Souped-Up Ford” in Germany in 1980 where the wild crowd invade the stage and he just keeps on playing then finishes the number on top of a speaker stack…

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

PS: 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 has the restored artwork, picture CD and expanded booklet of the 2012 issue. So if you want the 'digipak' repro artwork versions – use the Barcodes provided above when ordering...


Inna said...

A brilliant review, Mark!! Thank you very much!
I hope you don't mind my addressing you just by your first name.

I absolutely agree with everything you said as to Rory's genius.
A couple of days ago I ordered this remastered CD ("Against the Grain") and cannot wait to hold it in my hands!

May I ask you something? Are there lyrics in the booklet?

Rory Gallagher's lyrics are wonderful! But as English is not my native language there are often parts which remain unclear. In such cases I refer to the official Rory Gallagher website (where the lyrics are) and to other lyrics sites. But still I notice I find mistakes even on the official site.
And there's a song on "Against the Grain' album which is called "Cross Me Off Your List"..
I can't figure out what Rory sings when he starts:"You can" or "you CAN'T rub me out and cross me off your list". To me it seems logical that it "you can".
But the lyrics sites which I trust the most give opposite variants (http://www.rorygallagher.com/#/songs/cross_me_off_your_list_against_the_grain; http://www.lastoftheindependents.com/crossme.htm).

I would be very grateful to you if you could kindly clear it up.

Best regards,
Inna Pushkaryova

Inna said...

Mark, never mind my question! I think I figured it out myself! In fact the answer was on the surface.:)

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