Category Archives: News

RORY GALLAGHER: ‘Check Shirt Wizard.’

It’s sad to say that very often, when our musical heroes pass on, their legacy is somewhat tarnished by the release of substandard recordings.

This is perhaps understandable where more ‘commercial’ artists are involved, their estates and labels seeking to capitalize on the fans’ grief, and milk every last penny from their ‘investment.’

But commercialism was never the aim of the game for Rory Gallagher, and with brother Donal curating the recordings, you just know that whatever is / has been released posthumously will remain true to the ethos of Rory.

Last year saw the release of double (vinyl) album / triple (cd) ‘Blues,‘ and we fans thought it could never get better – all that time (I have been too lazy to add the track lengths up) devoted to Rory’s specialist genre? Pigs in you know what, we were. (Said Yoda. )

But it just has! Gotten better, that is.

Check Shirt Wizard,‘ reverses the format of the previous release and gives us a triple vinyl / double compact disc, which to my immature mind is a lot more sexy.
That said, I still bought both!

I’m conscious that many of Rory’s ever expanding fanbase were not fortunate enough to have seen him play ‘live.’ But this release is a perfect illustration of what it was like to have been at a show, some forty-three years ago. (Forty-three???!!)

Rory was in his prime. He was backed magnificently by Gerry, Rod and Lou – what I’d consider the strongest line-up he ever played with. A concert those days would last the best part of two hours, in often very basic and sweaty surroundings. No frills; no glitz; no glamour; no posing; no pouting. Just blues infused rock ‘n’ roll as God intended.

This 1977 UK tour, promoting the latest album ‘Calling Card,‘ took in twelve shows in sixteen days, an eleven day break, then another six shows in eight days, with a final date at the Royal Albert Hall no less, a further couple of weeks down the line. Touring certainly was a bit of a slog in those days, but if you wanted your music to heard, this is what you had to do.

But Rory loved it – and this was reflected in his shows: full of energy, but with humility and good humour. These three vinyl records (recorded variously at the Hammersmith Odeon, the Brighton Dome, Sheffield City Hall and Newcastle City Hall) totally encompass this.

Everything about ‘Check Shirt Wizard‘ is spot on. The sound quality is top end – a studio quality recording that fuses the electric atmosphere of a live show. The fold-out sleeve and the photographs are beautiful, as is the eight page, colour insert that takes the form of an outsize concert programme. (Remember them?)

Obviously this particular version is not on ‘Check Shirt Wizard,’ but it is from the same year,

The majority of the twenty tracks are upbeat, boogie and riff-laden, and although recorded over the four different venues, they have been compiled in such a manner as to give the feel of one show. This means that in keeping with his live shows, Rory slips in a few more acoustic blues numbers just after the mid point.

In addition to eight of the nine tracks originally on the ‘Calling Card‘ studio album (only ‘I’ll admit You’re Gone‘ is missing) ‘Check Shirt Wizard’ gives us blinding versions of what became ‘standards’ such as ‘Tattoo’d Lady,’ ‘Going To My Hometown,’ and of course, ‘Bullfrog Blues.’ The latter of these three really did make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, especially towards the end when over the top of a heavy boogie riff, Rory thanks the crowd for attending and acknowledges the band members in his own inimitable style: “Lou Martin on keyboards! Lou Martin! Yeah!”

Up till now, I have always held ‘Live in Europe‘ as my favourite album – not just of Rory Gallagher, but ‘favourite album’ full stop. This though, could well replace it. It’s an awesome collection that if time permits, should be listened through track by track to get that full on concert experience.

‘Check Shirt Wizard‘: they don’t make them like you anymore.

*****
I always wished to have been at a gig that was recorded for release as an album at a later date. I wasn’t at any of the four shows that are included here, but I was at the Glasgow show that predated the tour, and was sat (until the bouncers turned away) just two rows back from the ticket stub pictured on the inside back cover of the album insert!
*****

LOUD HORIZON GOES … quiet.

I’m sad to say, that reluctantly, I’m going to have to take a wee step back from LOUD HORIZON. I know – again!

When I resurrected the blog after a three year hiatus, I allowed myself a two month period in which to assess the work involved versus the number of daily hits / visitors it was achieving.

While the numbers have been encouraging, though not at the levels of when the site was initially launched in 2006, the amount of work and dedication required has proved to be a bit too onerous.

I’m in the middle of writing my second book – but haven’t even looked at it these past two months; the baseball season is at the half-way point and I’ve seen very little; our football season is about to start – an added distraction, etc, etc, etc.

The site WILL stay open, with occasional posts being added, but probably of a more personal nature – relating to music I’ve bought or that has piqued my interest Some PR Coys and bands have volunteered to keep me in the loop and on their lists, but this is on the understanding that I AM NO LONGER ABLE TO ACCEPT SUBMISSIONS WITH A VIEW TO REVIEWING / COMMENTING OR FEATURING .

Some day, whenever I can afford to retire from my proper business, I WILL return. Because I love listening to fresh new music, discovering different styles and checking out new,’undiscovered’ bands and artists.

So – many thanks to all those bands / artists / PR Coys and readers who have checked out LOUD HORIZON these past two ‘trial’ months. I really appreciate your interest and kind comments.

And so, that’s it …. see ya!

Cheers ‘n’ Beers
COLIN

Leon Redbone and Roky Erickson

I was saddened to hear last night about the passing of two musical legends.

I first came across the music of Leon Redbone when he appeared on The Old Grey Whistle Test. It must have been around the time his ‘Double Trouble’ album was launched, so that would put it around 1977. Back then, of course, I was right into my punk music, so it was strange that I should find an attraction in the off kilter jazz style of some really uncool looking dude in a Panama hat.

The following day, I recall going into the tiny, old-time Virgin Records shop in Cambridge Street, Glasgow and buying Leon’s new release. I loved it so much that a few weeks later, I asked the store to order me a copy of the 1975 release, ‘On The Track.‘ Both still grace my record shelves.

Looking back, I think that quite perversely, I took to Leon Redbone‘s music and character because he was so different. He didn’t conform. He had an individual style of dress and music.

Perhaps he was more 70s original ‘punk’ than we could ever have thought.

******



I was a bit of a late-comer to the psyche and psychedelic scene. But when i finally arrived, it was the music of The 13th Floor Elevators that convinced me I’d been a bit of a pratt for ignoring this style of music for so long

Roky Erickson founded the band back in 1965 and is regarded as one of the instigators of the psychedelic rock genre. Sadly, he endured years of mental health issues, at a time when enforced electroconvulsive therapy was considered a ‘cure’ for paranoid schizophrenia


Arrested in 1969 for possession of marijuana and facing a possible ten year stretch, he pleaded guilty on the basis of insanity in an effort to avoid jail. The authorities though, were keen to punish Roky, and indeed the band, for their outspoken views and use of hallucinogenic substances. He was promptly sent to Austin State Hospital, from where he escaped several times before ultimately being incarcerated at Rusk State Hospital for three years. It was here that Roky was again subjected to more electroconvulsive ‘therapy.’

Roky suffered mental health issues for many years, but in 2007 he managed to wean himself off his medication and started playing again, and a year later he toured the American West Coast with The Black Angels as his ‘backing band.’

In May 2015, the circle was completed when Roky played the Levitation Festival in Austin, Texas with the original members of The 13th Floor Elevators.

Footnote: Four years ago this month, when I was still ‘small-time dealing’ in records, I sold an 8 x 7″ singles box set, on multi-coloured vinyl, for £39. This is now selling for around £150.
I’m
STILL a pratt!