“Irish Tour ‘74” (Blu-ray) by Rory Gallagher

Artist: Rory Gallagher
Title: “Irish Tour ‘74”
Label: Eagle Vision
Release Date: 4/12/2011
Genre: Blues Rock
Rating: 5/5

The debut of “Rory Gallagher Irish Tour ’74” on Blu-Ray is a welcome addition to Eagle Vision’s flotilla of Gallagher titles. It is a seminal rock documentary capturing Gallagher at the height of his popularity.

The film has been available on DVD in the past but was unfortunately represented by a rather drab, badly speckled, print that severely undercut the viewing experience. Eagle Vision’s Blu-Ray is a spectacular visual upgrade that renders all previous versions worthless. I did a side-by-side comparison for the purposes of this review with my original BMG DVD and it was like watching the film for the first time. The EV Blu-Ray edition is a beautifully detailed, color-saturated, 16X9 presentation. A restoration that finally does this Tony Palmer film justice and makes it a joy to watch repeatedly.

For those unfamiliar with the film, “Irish Tour ‘74” mixes stage performances of Gallagher and band members drummer Rod de’Ath, bassist Gerry McAvoy and keyboardist Lou Martin across the Emerald Isle. Palmer captured solid performances, including smoking renditions of Gallagher’s electric slide guitar boogie workout “Cradle Rock” and rollicking tour de force “Bullfrog Blues”. He also left the artist enough room to expound on his musical philosophy with a loose mix of backstage banter, sound check jams and interviews, some culled for the “Ghost Blues” biography released last year. Particularly enjoyable are Rory’s “guitar tutorials” where he explains for the viewer various blues styles and the “beauty of the rawness” and rhythms.

The disc’s bonus material includes “Rory Gallagher, Music Maker”, a half hour slice of a vintage 1972 show performed in Limerick Ireland, and originally aired on the Irish Television Network RTE. It offers a nice compliment with highlights of several tunes not otherwise included in the main feature and performed in trio format. Additionally, the band’s 1974 tour of Japan is documented with “home movie” (Super 8mm?) footage from the days before high definition cell phone video and straight to YouTube publishing. It’s a charming array of glimpses of the band members and the local scenery and fans. A secondary audio track adds invaluable reminiscences, technical background and insight to the main feature. Rory’s brother Donal and band mate Gerry McAvoy do an excellent job of giving details of musical and historical merit with a healthy dose of good humor. It is to be remembered that Gallagher was one of the few artists who would venture to play Northern Ireland during the peak of “the troubles”, with venues located in places like “bomb alley”.

At a time when I was beginning to question the reasons for collecting Blu-Ray discs, Eagle Rock Entertainment delivers one of the most amazing upgrades to date. A lovely watercolor mini poster rendered by Jo Clauwaert, along with contemporaneous article from New Musical Express magazine is included in the case. ER in conjunction with Donal Gallagher will continue to ensure the quality of Rory’s legacy with remastered catalog pieces through 2011.

Track Listing:
1. Walk On Hot Coals
2. Tattoo’d Lady
3. Who’s That Coming
4. A Million Miles Away
5. Going To My Hometown
6. Cradle Rock
7. As The Crow Flies
8. Hands Off
9. Bull Frog Blues
10. Toredown (bonus)
11. Laundromat (bonus)
12. Pistol Slapper Blues (bonus)
13. Don’t Know Where I’m going (bonus)
14. Bullfrog Blues (bonus)

Official Website: www.rorygallagher.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.