Rory Gallagher – Blues (Chess/UMC)

Every so often there’s a music event. Even after all these years somebody, somewhere releases something old or something new, something borrowed or something blues. And this month it’s the blues.

Three CDs of it (or double vinyl if you’re old school and really appreciate the audible potential of your classic rock) featuring one of the genre’s much-missed greats. Thanks to Rory Gallagher’s estate, and a careful curation that’s taken years to complete, this enlightening collection of previously hidden gems breathes new life into a peerless legacy.

2019 marks what would be the 50thanniversary of the Cork-born guitarist’s recording career and this sensational set delves deep into the man and his music. Stretching back to 1971 (outtakes from the Deuce album sessions are an absolute delight) and charting Gallagher’s career until a year before his untimely passing (ironically a tribute track on the 1994 Peter Green compilation Rattlesnake Guitar bookends this release), Blues offers a phenomenal insight into a truly inspirational talent.

The highlights come thick and fast: Prison Blues is an unreleased track from 1973’s Blueprint album sessions and You Upset Me (from the Live Blues disc) features Gallagher guesting on the Albert King record Live. There are songs culled from gigs at Newcastle City Hall, Sheffield City Hall and Glasgow Apollo as well as various radio and TV appearances that roll back the years and reinforce a stellar reputation.

The three-CD version is split into Electric Blues, Acoustic Blues and Live Blues – each manages to create a different mood for a different time. There’s no chronology to the unpredictable tracklisting but the time travelling approach works an absolute treat. Decades fly by and the feeling of euphoria is constant.

There will always be an appetite for one of the world’s best bluesmen but what makes this unequalled collection so special is the sheer volume of lost treasure. It’s a haul to savour and its value cannot be underestimated. Blues does what it says on the tin…and then some.