Released 14th May 1972
I picked up Live In Europe last week because I wanted to experience the magic of Rory Gallagher for the first time on vinyl, the way it would have been when he was making albums back in the day. After the first listen I was in love with his guitar tone and technique, and the variety of blues influences that Gallagher incorporates seamlessly into his music.
Live In Europe was compiled from different live performances recorded during a European tour in February and March 1972. I was intrigued by the song selection on the album. What one usually expects from a live album would be live renditions of their favorite songs or the hit singles. It is understood that Gallagher was not fond of singles; he opted for the album format. This outlook is evident in Live In Europe; it is a no messing-around live album where the best songs of the tour were selected based on their musical value, not popularity. Furthermore, only two songs on the album are Gallagher compositions, the others are arrangements of traditional and older blues numbers.
The album starts with ‘Messin’ With The Kid’, a powerful piece with blistering guitar solos throughout and the raspy voice of Gallagher. Starting with this number showcased just how impressive three rockers playing together can be. Wilgar Campbell provided driving drums, with exhilarating fills and Gerry McAvoy held it all together with his tight, walking bass lines.
As Live in Europe progresses, Gallagher and his band explore many different instruments and timbres as more traditional blues influences are revealed. ‘I Could’ve Had Religion’ features slide guitar and harmonica mixed together impeccably by Rory, making the listener hang on every expressive note. Further adding to the traditional blues sound, acoustic guitar is used in ‘Pistol Slapper Blues’. The acoustic guitar is ideal to compliment the conventional overtones of the piece along with lyrics that are dated and hark back to simpler time when blues was created.
The second side of the record starts with Gallagher playing mandolin on ‘Going To My Home Town’. Throughout the song Campbell is keeping time with the kick drum while the audience claps along. This recording captured the atmosphere that would have been present at a Rory Gallagher concert. It makes you feel as if you are there!
Closing Live In Europe is ‘Bullfrog Blues’, another traditional blues arrangement by Rory Gallagher. This is a commanding musical statement on which to end the album. Slide guitar bellows as McAvoy walks his bass like a maniac, and in typical live fashion, there is a tasty drum solo by Campbell. This solo action from the other musicians is something I crave from a live album of this era, though short and sweet, I was satisfied.
After having listened to Live In Europe multiple times since I found it last week, I can safely say that it is a seminal blues album that you will dig from the first listen. With many penetrating guitar solos, varying dynamics, textures and just awesome bass, drums and guitar interplay, it’s a classic blues album everyone can enjoy for the love of music.