At the dawn of the 1970s, Rory Gallagher broke up Taste. Rory began rehearsing with the Jimi Hendrix Experience musicians Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell. Rory Gallagher would eventually form his own power trio that included Gerry McAvoy on bass and Wilgar Campbell on drums. Rory Gallagher would release his debut solo album with Gerry McAvoy and Wilgar Campbell entitled Rory Gallagher. The debut album was released in 1971. Rory Gallagher and his band mates would release the follow-up album that same year in 1971 entitled Deuce.
Rory Gallagher released a live album for his third record release in 1972. Interestingly, most of the material on the live album had never been released before with the exception of “Laundromat,” and “In your Town.” Rory Gallagher was a brilliant guitarist and great musicians thrive more in the live setting than they do in the studio. It’s in the nature of the musician to perform at another level in front of a live audience. So it made sense that early in his career, Rory Gallagher would release a live album. It also set a precedent for Rory as so many of the best records he ever released were live albums.
Big changes occurred in the Rory Gallagher band on the artist’s third studio album. In 1973 Rory Gallagher released the album Blueprint. On the record and in the band, drummer Wilgar Campbell was replaced by Rod de’Ath. The power trio format also came to an end as Rory Gallagher added keyboardist Lou Martin to the band. The next set of Rory Gallagher albums would stands as some of his most legendary records.
In 1973 Rory Gallagher released the album Tattoo. It was an album that crossed many genres of rock and roll and showcased the writing talents of Rory Gallagher more than any of his previous records. The following year saw the release of what may be Rory Gallagher’s crowning moment on record. Of course it would be in the form of a live album. Irish Tour ’74 was a two record set that defined the brilliance of Rory Gallagher more than any other album the artist ever released. If you own no Rory Gallagher albums in your collection, Irish Tour ’74 should be your first.
Irish Tour ’74 would be Rory Gallagher’s final album for Polydor records. In 1975, Rory Gallagher signed with Chrysalis Records (home of Jethro Tull) and released the album Against The Grain. The following year Rory Gallagher released his eighth studio album entitled Calling Card which was produced by Deep Purple’s Roger Glover. On 1978’s Photo Finish album Rory Gallagher converted back to his original power trio format with long times bassist Gerry McAvoy and new drummer Ted McKenna.
The new lineup of Gallagher, McAvoy and McKenna would work steadily together over the course of the next couple of years on the road and releasing the albums Top Priority in 1979 and Stage Struck in 1980. In 1981, Rory Gallagher released the album Jinx with Brendan O’Neill replacing Mckenna on drum. The album also featured keyboardist Bob Andrews and saxophone players Ray Beavis and Dick Parry. The 1987 Defender album saw Rory Gallagher recording for a new record label with the same power trio of Brendan O’Neil and Gerry McAvoy. The album also utilized guest appearances by other musicians.
In 1990, Rory Gallagher would release his last studio album entitled Fresh Evidence. A few years later in late Spring of the year 1995, Rory Gallagher passed away at the young age of only forty seven years old. There have been many posthumous albums released since his passing. Many live albums, box set and compilations that look back at the incredible body of work that the brilliant talents of Rory Gallagher left behind.
Our top 10 Rory Gallagher songs list is simply a subjective view designed to turn people on to the music of Rory Gallagher who may not be familiar with his material. It’s simply a starting point that defines career highlights. We all have our favorites, but we hope this list helps define the brilliance of the amazing career of Rory Gallagher.
# 10 – Messin’ With The Kid
Oh this one is going to be fun. We open up our top 10 Rory Gallagher songs list with this screaming tune “Messin’ With The Kid.” The song was released on album Live in Europe . The record was released in 1972. The song was written by Junior Wells.
# 9 – Shin Kicker
“Shin Kicker,” from the great Photo Finish album is placed here at number 9 on our top 10 Rory Gallagher songs list. The album was released in 1978. The album was recorded in the classic city of Cologne, Germany. Home of the legendary Cologne Cathedral and some of the best food in Europe.
# 8 – Tattoo’d Lady
Rory Gallagher’s “Tattoo’d Lady,” represents the great album Tattoo. The Tattoo album was released in 1973. “Tattoo’d Lady,” was the album’s opening track. This great song was written by Rory Gallagher.
# 7 – Daughter Of The Everglades
Continuing with our top 10 Rory Gallagher songs list we turn to the album Blueprint. An album that showcased a bit of a different direction for Rory Gallagher’s music. The beautiful song “Daughter of the Everglades,” represents the Blueprint album on this Rory Gallagher songs list. The title of the album Blueprint actually represented a blueprint of an amp that was designed for Rory Gallagher in Germany
# 6 – Bullfrog Blues
Rory Gallagher tears it up on this traditional blues song. “Bullfrog Blues,” was released on the Live In Europe album in 1972. Listen to the solos on this one, they will blow you away.
# 5 – Shadow Play
“Shadow Play,” is the second song from the Photo Finish album to land on his top 10 Rory Gallagher songs list. It is also one of Rory Gallagher’s most famous songs. The song was written by Rory Gallagher. It opened up side two of the record.
# 4 – Moonchild
Rory Gallagher’s smoking song “Moonchild,” appeared on the album Calling Card. The Calling Card album was released in 1976. The song’s opening riff is an all-time classic. Heavy metal band Judas Priest may have been listening to this one when they composed “Breaking The Law,” a few years later.
# 3 – Bad Penny
Rory Gallagher’s “Bad Penny,” is another one of his most famous tracks. This killer tune was released on the Top Priority album. It’s a power trio on this recording. The song “Bad Penny,” opened up side two of the record. Top Priority is our favorite Rory Gallagher studio album.
# 2 – Philby
Yeah, Yeah Yeah, how could we not place this one near the top? The second of two in a row from the great Top Priority album. Philby starts out with a great guitar riff that is infiltrated by smoking Rory Gallagher lead guitar lines. It smacks you in the face right from the start.
# 1 – A Million Miles Away (From Irish Tour 74)
We close out our top 10 Rory Gallagher songs list with this incredible live recording of the song “A Million Miles Away.” It was released on Rory Gallagher’s greatest record, Irish Tour’ 74. As we wrote previously, if you do not have any Rory Gallagher albums this is the one to start with.
Updated June 6, 2023
Top 10 Rory Gallagher Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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