In 1974 Rory Gallagher was at the absolute peak of his form. He had just released his 4th and 5th solo albums and toured the world to great applause. The subsequent tour of Ireland was supposed to be time off from touring but it also produced one of the greatest live albums and cemented his position as the best of Britain’s Blues and rock guitarists in the mid-seventies era. Today he is cited as a prime influence by the likes of Joe Bonamassa and Walter Trout as well as the young British axe-men making such a major place for themselves today.

So what do you do as a 40th Anniversary set? A double album with a couple of bonus tracks? Or maybe a double album with a DVD of the Tony Palmer documentary? How about a SEVEN Cd set of all five Irish shows, a BBC In Session from Cork City Hall PLUS the DVD of Tony Palmer’s documentary all including unreleased tracks!

For almost any other artist this would just be so much wank – most artists will play the same tracks every night with no variation – the only thing that will be different will be the crowds. Most artists will use some form of enhancement to ensure they always sound at their best and most artists will be as likely to surprise you as Simon Cowell will. Rory Gallagher is NOT most artists.

The joy and enthusiasm that rings out from the stage from track one of CD1 (Cork City Hall) and the stunning slide and boogie guitar from Gallagher plus those throaty and bullish vocals draw you out of your seat and the sheer power and fire of the band – Rod D’Ath on drums, Gerry McAvoy on bass and Lou Martin on keyboards – will push you back again. As a reviewer it is uncool to admit I was bouncing around like a teenager but a diet of ‘Messin’ With The Kid’ and ‘Bankers Blues’ as well as ‘Tattooed Lady’ and ‘Laundromat’ will do that to you.

Gallagher was as adept on slide and power riffs as he was a boogie player and this set contains everything that led to Jimi Hendrix answering the question of “What is it like to be the best guitarist in the world” with “You’d better ask Rory Gallagher”.

The original double vinyl album only used tracks from the Cork shows but the additional tracks – although not as well recorded – feature playing every bit as hot and fiery.

The packaging is ‘Ok’ and the booklet that accompanies the set is excellent (written by Rory’s brother Donal) and genuinely informative.

For almost any other artist this much would be overkill and for completists only but Rory Gallagher is worth it and this is special.