Classic Rock Review

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Rory Gallagher Blueprint (1973)


Frustrating, but sheez, is this guy ever consistent. I tell you, if Rory ever decided to let out all of his talent at once, he’d come up with a masterpiece akin to Layla or Disraeli Gears. Instead, he prefers to dilute his talent from album to album. This one has a particularly credible title – except that just about every single Rory Gallagher record could be described as a ‘blueprint’ for all the others.

And yet, the songs are all good: once again, he doesn’t diverge from the standard blues pattern much, but he sure diverges enough to make the tracks interesting. The ‘non-standard’ tracks this time are represented by a) a beautiful ballad, ‘Daughter Of The Everglades’, with excellent keyboard work from Lou Martin and strangely evocative Celtic-style atmosphere, and b) a funny acoustic interlude, ‘Unmilitary Two-Step’, which is exactly what it bills itself as.

Both are wonderfully refreshing and tasteful, and display Rory as a person who’s not afraid to show a wee bit of pretentiousness and a wee bit of concealed humour. And the uprising guitar solo on ‘Daughter of the Everglades’ gotta rank as one of Rory’s most inspired guitar workouts ever captured in the studio. Ah, if only all those wretched power balladeers understood that a ballad must look something like this – not borrowing elements from arena-rockers, but sounding really personal and deeply intimate!

This is the perfect sound I’ve been looking for, and so rarely finding – the closest thing, I guess, is stuff like Clapton’s ‘Let It Grow’, a similar masterpiece of ‘powerful intimacy’ that sounds huge and bombastic but doesn’t use cheap generic power chords to drive its point home.

Apart from that, there’s not much to say that hasn’t been said before – that is, if you’re waiting for some incredible revelation. If not, I could just try to pinch out and pinpoint and pin down the various subtle touches that don’t make Blueprint a smooth and dull record with nothing to hang on to, like, say, Free’s Highway, but make it thoroughly listenable. ‘The Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son’, for instance, has curious lyrics (I’d like to know what they deal with myself!) and a compact, super-tight jam, with the guitar complemented by cool organ work and light breezes of sax.

The album opener, ‘Walk On Hot Coals’, tries to become ‘Laundromat Vol. 2’, with its tale of unhappiness and misery, but doesn’t exactly succeed, because it doesn’t have a riff as distinct as the one used on ‘Laundromat’. Pity, that: a bunch of good riffs could punch up all of those album’s ratings seriously. No dice, though. Still fun.

Finally, the last song on here is a hidden gem as well – ‘If I Had A Reason’ is a country ballad, for sure, but what’s wrong with country ballads if they’re written and performed well? A minimalistic, romantic use of slide guitar in the background, beautiful acoustic guitar/piano interplay and Rory’s tender, a wee bit clumsy lyrics make the day here, and isn’t that a mandolin I hear in the background or did a gadfly die within my ear? Be a good lad and check it out, now.

As usual, I won’t be mentioning the filler because, well, filler is filler, and the problem (or the lack of problem) with Gallagher’s filler is that it ain’t bad: it’s just so undistinctive that all I could say is just “well, it’s a standard blues-rocker with a good solo” or “well, it’s a generic blues shuffle with some nice slide work”. Come to think of it, I said pretty much the same about the highlights – and it’s reviews of records by artists like these that make you rush out in search of a thesaurus (“hey! how many synonyms are there for the word generic?”) – but unless you want me to learn music theory and bug you with graphic notations of chord progressions, you’d better just take my word for it.

If I say “standard blues-rocker with a good solo; highlight”, then that solo is really good, like, say, overdriven and closely reminding me of some kind of human emotion expressed directly. If the word “highlight” isn’t there, well… Make your conclusions yourselves.

Overall, though, I’d call Blueprint somewhat of a stagnation point. Apart from the few true highlights, like ‘Daughter Of The Everglades’ and ‘Seventh Son’, there’s not much to discuss – and the next record, for my money, is far better. Overproductivity sucks.

April 13, 2013 Posted by | Rory Gallagher Blueprint | | Leave a comment