Judge Steve Power is still not sure what part he plays in this shadow play, this shadow play.
"So these couple of kids come up, who's me and my mate, and say 'How do
you get your sound Mr. Gallagher?' and he sits and tells us. So I owe Rory
Gallagher my sound."
Jimi Hendrix was once asked what it was like to be the world's greatest guitar player. His answer was, "Go ask Rory Gallagher." Rory Gallagher is not a name that rolls off the tongue when you think of legendary blues guitarists. I hadn't heard the name myself until a year or so ago when Dan Moore, guitarist in a Rock n' Roll outfit called Sheavy, turned me on to his music. Rory got his start in a Irish band called Taste in the late 60s, and would go on to perform worldwide in the 70s under his own name, sell over 30 million albums, and become an influence to everyone from The Edge (U2) to Eric Clapton. It bewilders me that it seems like few people on this side of the pond recognize the name.
Live in Cork takes Rory back to his hometown after a lengthy stint on the road, and finds the band in solid form. It's a performance from later in Rory's career, recorded in 1986, originally released on home video in 1987 under the title "Messin' with the Kid: Live at the Cork Opera House," and is probably one of the final efforts laid to tape before Rory's failing health began to affect his stage performance. He would eventually succumb to an infection following a liver transplant in 1995 and pass on at the age of 47.
The raw energy of Rory's earlier concerts isn't as prevalent here. However, the band is definitely in top form, and Rory's incredibly powerful voice and skillful playing are as effective as ever. Any fan of hard blues should enjoy the driving rhythms and Rory's amazing fretwork with or without a heavy slide in hand. The show contains a solid selection of tracks, including some more popular numbers ("Tatoo'd Lady," "Shadow Play") and a few newer tunes that weren't as prevalent, and no matter how many times I hear it, "Shadow Play" still blows my mind. The show is a little brief at just under 80 minutes, but the overall package is worth owning, even if there are stronger representations of Rory Gallagher's work out there on DVD (Irish Tour 1974 is an excellent show to start on for the uninitiated).
Once again, Eagle Vision has done a commendable job in bringing back a relic of music's past. The full screen video is solid, though definitely shows its age with softness and pale colors throughout. At times it dips in quality significantly, and every now and again you get a few ripples and distortions, but it's to be expected when you're working with an old video source. Audio options consist of a 5.1 remix, and 2.0 PCM stereo. As tempting as it may sound, ignore the 5.1 mix, it sounds hollow, with very little low end. It's obviously sourced from a Stereo mix, and sounds horrible next to the more robust 2.0 track. The stereo track still isn't perfect, sounding a little muddy, but it's as good as one could expect. The disc does contain some pretty snazzy looking menus that guide you on a tour of Rory's home town, complete with anecdotes as told by Rory's brother Donal. The menus can be a little unwieldy if you just want to watch the show, but they're a nice touch all the same, and are very well crafted. Also enclosed is a very nice full color booklet with some text by Donal Gallagher as well.
Fans of Rhythm and Blues, and artists like Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn really need to check out Rory Gallagher's body of work. While Live in Cork may not be the best introduction to the man's music, it certainly works as a portrait of the man himself. The performance is excellent, and the music is lively.
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