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4.9 out of 5 stars
Irish Tour
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52 of 57 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Let's just say that "Irish Tour," which has sold the most copies of any of the late Rory Gallagher's albums, captures one of the finest blues-rock guitarists of our time in peak form. This gem of a live recording was assembled from various gigs across Mr. Gallagher's troubled native Ireland in 1974, and he clearly relishes playing for the home crowd.

Mr. Gallagher and company churn through some longer versions of Walk on Hot Coals, Too Much Alcohol, and Who's That Coming, which allows Mr. Gallagher to improvise and experiment a bit. (There's not a bad number here, but why is Just a Little Bit not included on the CD version?)

I'm not prone to lavish adjectives on recordings, but there is more than enough intensity, passion, and virtuosity here to help the uninitiated learn what all the fuss is when it comes to Rory Gallagher's place in rock history.

Why four stars instead of five? It has nothing to do with Mr. Gallagher but rather a display of frustration about the omission of any bonus material!
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on October 7, 2003
Format: Audio CD
The first time I saw Rory Gallagher live he was a warmup act, and he stole the show from Deep Purple, no easy thing to do. He was that good, blessed not only with technical skill but with a musical soul that shone through his music. This 1974 live recording is a tribute to his fiery blues-rock guitar playing and the heart behind it. I've been told by people who knew him that he was the nicest guy on earth, something that comes through in the video version of this recording available now on DVD, he was all music, no showbiz, a bluesman who seemed almost embarrassed when he became a rock star as well. If you don't know his work, this live album is a good place to start, just be prepared to buy more once you get a taste. The public has largely forgotten Rory just as they have Roy Buchannan, but guitarists will be impressed no end when you mention his name, they know how good he was and how much he loved the music. Maybe that's why the Rolling Stones considered him as a replacement for Mick Taylor, but somehow I can't see Rory wearing leopardskin jackets and leather pants. His life was too short, but at least we have this wonderful music to remember him by.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 1998
Format: Audio CD
In the late 60's and early 70's, rock was ruled by the guitar gods. Clapton with his smooth licks and easy control. Hendrix with his brash individual style. And Page with his ever adventurous spirit. I had the privilege to see them all. Clapton in a tasty but rare appearance with Derek and the Dominoes. Hendrix in two inconsistent sets that flashed brilliance and boredom. And Page in an arena-sized homage to self indulgence.
Then there was Rory. Eschewing the wall of amplifiers and the "wish-to-kill sound", Gallagher stripped his set to the bare minimum. Small amps, small drum set, and a beat-up old Stratocaster. While the guitar gods brought their large amp banks and egos to match, Gallagher brought his "nice-guy" persona and determined work ethic. Always the gentleman, always the humble showman, Gallagher always put the audience first. And he always delivered a great show!
Clapton had his taste. Hendrix had his sexuality. Page had his trips to tonal nirvana. But nobody, NOBODY, could boogie like Rory! In the 70's, I saw Rory four or five times. Every time I left the concert with a big smile on my face.
IRISH TOUR `74 is proof positive of Rory's talents as a guitarist and a showman. The album displays Rory's "let's have a party" spirit with a band as tight as you'll ever hear. From Cradle Rock to Walk on Hot Coals, Rory will have you up and dancing around the room from the first note. Because it has some of the best blues-boogie music from the era, IRISH TOUR `74 is one of the best live albums of the 70's.
Rory, you gave us your best here below. Now, boogie with the angels.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
When Rory and his killer band toured Ireland in 1974, other reviewers have got it dead right that the majority of rock acts wouldn't go near the place. The Gaelic funsters were in the full throes of murdering and torturing their fellow man. So the Melody Maker, Britain's best-ever and sadly defunct music weekly (written by such five-star observers as Ray Coleman and Chris Welch - see my review of Chris' book "Cream"), had as its front-page headline, "Rory rocks Belfast," followed by an ecstatic description of not only his fantastic playing and band, but of his single-minded belief that music would break down all barriers.

I first saw Rory in 1968 when, as I said in many other reviews, he blew poor old Jimi H off the stage at the Woburn Abbey Festival. I got to know him quite well and have, among other things, one of Richie McCraken's bass guitar string cases on which Rory wrote his name and addresses of his agents for booking. I loved this man and his music, and preferred him to almost any other musician in the world. I find him much more intresting than Duane Allman (there is no law against playing in tune, D) or Stevie Ray Vaughan, and miles better than Hendrix, who was usually so awful live. He interpreted the blues in an unbelievably sensitive and skilful way, never forgetting his comprehensive respect and knowledge of the greats (he adored Muddy Waters, Blind Blake, Hutto, Albert King and so on). Coupled with that, he was a pretty good singer and a first-rate song-writer, as well as being a great guitarist, slide player, mandolin player, harp player and sax player. I lost count of the times (well over 38) I saw Rory say, "Thanks a million, thanks a million," in his inimitable brogue before holding an audience spellbound with one acoustic guitar.

This fantastic record of Rory includes "A Million Miles Away", Walk on Hot Coals,", "I wonder who,", "Who's that coming, " and a host of other gems, all played by the band of bands. Listen to Rod D'Ath's drums, Gerry McEvoy's bass and Lou Martin's drums. Primitive gear, stunning playing. Who can hold a candle to this gentle, polite, kind and decent man? Please let us stop comparing him to the usual suspects - he was in a different league in so many ways and the world is just beginning to wake up. He was quite unique in so many ways. Listen to the "London Muddy Waters Sessions" - he's the only one who really "got it."

Essential and vital listening. Much more enjoyable than the disjointed DVD by Tony Palmer.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2001
Format: Audio CD
What a great album. I first saw Rory in '72 in NYC opening for Deep Purple. Fabulous live show. When the Irish tour lp came out, I wanted the whole world to hear it. The CD sounds even better!!! Cradle Rock is classic Rory! You will love A million miles away, walk on hot coals,too much alcohol, as the crow flies is a superb acoustic number. Listen to this cd, feel the emotion that Rory plays with!!! You will love it!!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Back in the 70's I saw Rory play at the legendary 'My Father's Place' in Roslyn Long Island where he played every song on the CD so it brings back indelible memories. Rory and the band played with such power and energy I recall thinking they were undermining the structural integrity of the building. The technical excellence of Rory's blues guitar and vocals were transcended by the personal connection he made with the audience.
He was more than a performer: he tore off a piece of his soul giving everyone a share. Unreal. But let the music speak for the Man. That night the audience were euphoric. Though I have seen many great performers over the years nothing tops that night.
This CD brings it all back. In two hundred years people will still be enjoying this classic. "Nice one, Rory. Nice one, Son. Nice one Rory, let's have another one."
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I saw Rory three times in Boston. He was great every time. He was the opening act for Dave Mason around 1978. Dave Mason made a big mistake. Rory just blew the crowd away. 30 minutes into Mason's act the crowd was still screaming for Rory to come back out. I think Mason must have been humiliated. He simply could not follow Gallagher's set. Jimi Hendrix would have had trouble following Gallagher. He was truly one of the great live acts of rock history. The man could play. In two other Boston appearances at the Paridise he ripped the place apart. He simply loved playing and he was just so very, very talented. It is shocking to me that a man of his ability and stage presence was never more popular. I took my college buddies to see Gallagher. They all said it was the best show they had ever seen and they had never even heard one of his albums. This guy didn't need any complicted production or double trackig he could play it straight up. This is a very good album, but it is almost impoosible to understand how good this guy was unless you saw him play live. He had that rare ability to just take the crowd where he wanted them to go. If you want to hear a master, pick up this CD. If you can't hear the genius, then you just don't really understand ...
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 25, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Previous reviewers have done a very good job with their high praise of this masterpiece, but there are two things I would like to share with anyone who might be tempted but not yet convinced to add this gem to their collection.

First, the blistering, full length Walk On Hot Coals featured on this disc is perhaps Rory and his bandmates at their finest. That cut alone is worth the price of the CD.

Second, this cd is a wonderful complement to, not a substitute for, Rory's Irish Tour 74 DVD. Although there is some overlap in the song titles, there is no overlap in the performances. (I really liked the DVD, and almost didn't buy the CD because I thought it would contain mostly the same perfomances. It would be a shame for anyone to make that mistake.)

Many thanks to Rory and the boys for these superb performances.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2005
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Rory, Rory, Rory - stunning, stunning, stunning. And the remastered CD is a champion job, just like all the other original album refreshers. All the moods are here - slide rock, slow blues, reflective sadness, acoustic tenderness. And some blistering solos. Try the blazing soulfulness of Tatoo'd Lady, or get lost in the delicious meandering (in the best sense of that word)of the solos in Walk on Hot Coals. Or the slow intensity of A Million Miles Away. Nice one Rory, nice one son, let's have another one, as the fans chant at the end of Who's that Coming? If you like 70s blues rock, and want to find a timeless live album - here it is!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 4, 2008
Format: Audio CD
"Irish Tour" was essentially Rory's "Frampton Comes Alive" moment. FM "AOR" ("Album Oriented Radio") stations grabbed on to this one and would not let go. The 10 minute live version of "A Million Miles Away" accounted for the majority of airplay, especially on San Francisco's legendary station KSAN.

The album begins with a tightly-wound guitar riff that has more than a little Angus Young around the edges: "Cradle Rock" is one part roadhouse blues, one part arena rock, and a great opener.

"I Wonder Who" offers more blues, featuring a call-and-response tease of a minute or so between Rory's vocal and his guitar, before the band slowly joins the song. At the 1:45 mark, everyone's on board. Over the course of 8 minutes, there are ample solos and the rise-and-fall volume dynamics that are key to live blues dynamics.

"Tattoo'd Lady" is a mainstream rock song, on the fast side of mid-tempo, with more tight soloing.

"Too Much Alcohol," another 12 bar blues stomper, begins with Rory's signature slide playing. Many dabbled with slide, Rory was one of the few masters of the art. The song then benefits from an audience hand-clap backbeat (fortunately, they are in tempo with the song). It's just Rory and his guitar again, with the band coming in at the 2 minute mark.

"As The Crow Flies" is an acoustic blues, breaking things up a bit and setting the stage for the next track, the classic "A Million Miles Away." The song showcases Rory's talent as a guitarist and his ability to inject influences outside of the expected blues genres. This was one of those 10 minute "get lost in it" tracks, like Paul Butterfield's "East-West" and a few others, that had a beginning, a middle "adventure," and a ride back home at the end. 34 years later, it still packs a punch.

"Walk On Hot Coals" veers from the pensive mood of "A Million Miles Away" into another 11 minute track that plays off of shifting tempos but is more of an aggressive rocker.

"Who's That Coming" brings back the slide, and this one's Foghat-style road rock, essentially a framework for the band to jump into a propulsive jam.

"Back On My Stomping Ground" is another slide-fueled track, more measured and laid back than some of the longer jamming tracks, and a very satisfying finish to a powerful set.

34 seconds of "Maritime" close the album, similar in spirit to Santo & Johnny's legendary "Sleepwalk."

Simply put, this album belongs in any serious guitar rock / 1970s rock collection. Rory deserved much more mainstream recognition than he got in his lifetime, but the music still lives on, loud and strong.
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