Album: Rory Gallagher

Wheels Within Wheels, Capo/BMG

Andy Gill
Friday 14 March 2003 01:00
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Undoubtedly Ireland's most accomplished rock musician, Rory Gallagher was, until his untimely death in 1995, best known for the fiery virtuosity of his electric blues guitar. He always hankered after releasing an album of acoustic folk and blues numbers, however, a dream fulfilled here through the diligence of his brother Donal, who has trawled through stacks of tape-boxes and begged or borrowed long-lost recordings from other musicians to compile this marvellous series of collaborations, spanning 20 years, with, among others, Lonnie Donegan, Martin Carthy, Bert Jansch and Bela Fleck. Jansch, for instance, hunted out a tape of himself and Gallagher duetting on the folk standard "She Moved through the Fair", his own bent notes rippling through Rory's fingerpicking; "Bratacha Dubha" ("Black Flags"), by contrast, is a more stately affair, a chamber-folk piece of Gallagher's, played with the guitarists Martin Carthy and Chris Newman and Newman's wife, the harpist Maire Ni Chathasaigh. Elsewhere, the Irish flavour of Rory's playing adds a piquancy to the flamenco duet with Juan Martin "Flight to Paradise", while a 1975 folk-rock recording of his own, "Lonesome Highway", is energised by the ragga-rock texture of his guitar lines. Lonnie Donegan and the Dubliners are featured in light-hearted mood, and, all in all, it is a fine tribute to a towering talent whose feel for the blues was far truer than that of many of his more famous peers.

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