Sunday, 23 September 2012

“Photo Finish” 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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"…Feel The Heat Of The Fire…"

"Photo-Finish" 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 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) - "Photo-Finish" by RORY GALLGHER on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88725461462 (Barcode 887254614623) in an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster and comes in a card digipak rather than a jewel case (50:11 minutes).

1. Shin Kicker
2. Brute Force And Ignorance
3. Cruise On Out
4. Cloak & Dagger
5. Overnight Bag
6. Shadow Play [Side 2]
7. The Mississippi Sheiks
8. The Last Of The Independents
9. Fuel To The Fire 
The original vinyl album (tracks 1 to 9) of "Photo-Finish" was released October 1978 in the UK and USA on Chrysalis CHR 1170 (it charted at number 116 in the States) and was his 3rd studio LP for the British label – continuing on from the blisteringly good run of "Against The Grain" in 1975 and "Calling Card" in 1976. 

10. Early Warning
11. Juke Box Annie
Tracks 10 and 11 were Previously Unreleased outtakes from the sessions that first appeared on the 1998 CD reissue

When "Photo-Finish" was first re-issued on CD by Da Capo in September 1998 – the tapes were remixed and remastered by Colin Failey and Tony Arnold – giving it a sound some found a little shrill. 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. They've done a great job – the sound is very clear and muscular – still full of piss and vinegar for sure but less showy than before.

The foldout 3-way inlay of 1998 has been replaced with a 2012 12-page booklet that restores the original artwork. Donal Gallagher's song-by-song liner notes of old are reproduced again – but as well as colour photos – there's a new inclusion – David Fricke's article on the album in Circus Magazine from January 1979. The card digipak repros the lovely original album artwork (back and front), the CD itself is a picture disc and there's even a live photo beneath the see-through plastic tray. It looks the business and sounds great – and for fiver sterling - is a classy little reissue for not a lot of wonga.

Co-produced with Alan O’Duffy – for the album the band remained a three-piece with Gerry McAvoy on Bass and Ted McKenna on Drums while Rory covered everything else – vocals, guitars, harmonica and mandolin. His double tracking of electric lead (which began with "Against The Grain") added extraordinary power to many songs – the guitar solo on "Brute Force & Ignorance" for instance is just blistering – and now remastered to its full sonic potential. "Cruise On Out" sees him lashing into a fast one – screaming as he launches into a typically finger-licking solo. The lone cover - the traditional Delta blues of "Mississippi Sheiks" is turned into a slow paced Johnny Winter number – great stuff. The same applies to the chugging ZZ Top production given to the bluesy "Fuel To The Fire" – drums, bass and guitars – all sounding just blinding now (lyrics from it title this review). The two studio outakes that came with the 1998 reissue are here again – the rocking "Early Warning" and the jaunty acoustic/harmonica "Juke Box Annie"- both excellent and actually warranting the word ‘bonus’. All in all – a bit of a belter really…

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 in the mid to late Seventies) – 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. Playing back "Shin Kicker", "Cloak And Dagger" and "Last Of The Independents" is a rocking pleasure and not a nostalgia chore.

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. "Photo-Finish" is a great way to remember him - and frankly the other 4 titles in this 2nd phase are pretty much the same.

All five reissues are whole-heartedly recommended…

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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