Classic Rock Review

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Rory Gallagher Deuce (1971)


One thing that Mr Gallagher constantly suffered from in the early Seventies was over productivity – the guy often tossed out two albums per year, and, while this is certainly not surprising from a technical side (after all, it’s not the immaculate production values of Dark Side Of The Moon we’re talking of: Rory always kept things basic and simple), one might actually wonder about, you know, the usual thing – how much time did he actually spend on fine tuning the material?

Deuce is just a typical follow-up: same style, same direction, same guitar tones, same bluesy patterns, but fewer interesting ideas and more generic solutions. On a worse day I wouldn’t have given this more than two, two-and-a-half stars or so; however, I just love the guy for all of his raw, sincere, hard-workin’ attitude, and I’m always ready to add an extra half-star out of generosity and – you said it! – adoration. Yup. Rory’s da man!

Now I already see the readers preparing to stone me with accusations of subjectivity and gruesome bias, but get this: there ain’t a single bad song on the album, just a bunch of boring ones. I mean, when Rory goes singing routine blues like ‘Should’ve Learnt My Lesson’, it can’t but be a disappointment – after all, wasn’t this the guy who displayed signs of true “bluesy creativity” on his first solo record? But would you want to say that the song is a bad one? That the performance sucks? Well, no, I wouldn’t do that. Listen to that guy playing. No, not the solos – listen to the way he holds up the rhythm. That quirky little chug-a-chug-a-chug that holds up the song. Ever heard anybody play the blues like that? Hello, originality!

In any case, let me specifically mention two excellent numbers that save the album from being “consistently enjoyable to the point of forgettable”. The album opener, ‘I’m Not Awake Yet’, is a sincere, emotionally resonant rocker displaying some of Rory’s most stunning and atmospheric acoustic guitar work – he plays some sort of a “flamenco-influenced blues solo” the likes of which I’ve rarely, if ever heard before.

And in an equally ‘disturbing’ mode, he rips into ‘Crest Of A Wave’, which borrows its main riff from ‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’, but in a non-blatant way – and also has some of Rory’s most blazing solos on a record. It’s the kind of song that needs to be played out loud, you know, L-O-U-D, at the top of your speakers’ power, and I dare all the hair metal fans in the world come up to me and state that bands like Cinderella or Poison are more artistically valid than this outburst of prime blues-rock energy. I don’t know why I brought up that subject – I suppose that I haven’t mocked hair metal for quite a long time, and I just couldn’t stand it any more. Sheez, you don’t know how pleasant it is to offend an entire musical genre! Makes you feel glad all over. Dumb as hell, too. Guilty pleasure. Can’t resist it. Hair metal sucks!

Unlike Rory Gallagher, whose creative, imaginative and genuine approach to blues legacy certainly deserves more appreciation from American radio than it has garnered so far (which is, zero, but I can’t really blame American radio: they think that if they have their Muddy Waters, they don’t need no stinkin’ derivative white boy blues. Problem is, I doubt American radio stations have much Muddy Waters, either. So gimme Rory Gallagher at least!). A couple acoustic ballads, like ‘Out Of My Mind’ and the countryish ‘Don’t Know Where I’m Going’, obviously make the grade as well.

The others don’t fare so well, ranging from passable (stuff like ‘In Your Town’, which begins as a promising romp but then deteriorates into mid-tempo and can overall qualify as a poor boy version of ‘Sinner Boy’, with sillier lyrics) to sometimes even slightly embarrassing: the romantic ‘rocker ballad’ ‘There’s A Light’ suffers a lot from Rory’s painful attempts at operatic singing. We all know that singing isn’t Gallagher’s forte: when he screams his lyrics or just blurts out the words in a fast tempo, it’s all fine, but when it actually comes to prolongating notes, he just can’t stand on key, and boy does that hurt.”

Overall, though, if you sum up all the highlights and all the decent material, Deuce still stands up as, well, as something deuc-ent. Lovers of ‘experimental blues rock’ will hardly be disappointed. Unless, of course, you consider Captain Beefheart to be ‘experimental blues-rock’, in which case I reverentially retire.

April 11, 2013 Posted by | Rory Gallagher Deuce | | Leave a comment