Rory Gallagher
Crest of a Wave
The Best of Rory Gallagher

Release Date: August 25, 2009
Produced by: N/A (Various)
Format: 2CD



Matt Rowe


There are many top-drawer guitarists that have a core following but have never been lifted into the public consciousness like Eric Clapton, Jimmy Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Joe Satirani, Eddie Van Halen – the list goes on – has been.  In fact, there are more 'unknown but unforgotten' greats that would, more so than not, draw blank stares as you announce their names.  Names like Paul Kossoff, Peter Green, Bill Nelson, Andy Powell, Roy Buchanon, Ted Turner, and the subject of this review, Rory Gallagher.

Rory Gallagher, an Irish guitarist, is a guitarist extraodinaire.  His proficiency in the instrument has earned him the well-deserved honor of being referred to as one of the greats, although his work is rarely known outside the faithful.  Rory Gallagher was sought after to replace the departing Mick Taylor in the Rolling Stones, and Richie Blackmore from Deep Purple.'  Gallagher began his career playing for an Irish band called Taste in the late '60s.  But that band dissolved in 1970 leaving another page of history to be written in the form of the band's fine guitarist, Rory Gallagher.  Gallagher effortlessly spun out 11 solo studio albums, 8 within his peak years.  There are two excellent and very revealing Live albums within his peak years of 1970-1979. 

Rory Gallagher died in 1995 due to alcohol-related causes.  But before he died he left behind a wealth of music, much of the quality stuff assembled for 'best of' collections  like this one.  This recently released 2CD compilation issued by Eagle Records called The Best of Rory Gallagher – Crest of a Wave revisits the great guitar genius with a selection of 24  tracks, 12 on each disc.  Each '70s-period album is represented with one or more tracks.  “Wheels Within Wheels,” and “Lonesome Highway” are acoustic tracks taken from a post-career acoustic compilation album (Wheels Within Wheels), both early recordings.  But the rest of the set is loaded with warmly remembered Gallagher titles.

One of the more satisfying Gallagher tunes, “A Million Miles Away,” originates on his Tattoo (1973) album.  But then there's “Follow Me” from the underrated Top Priority (1979), “Bad Penny,” also from Top Priority, the smoking “Shinkicker” from Photo Finish (1979), and the Hendrix-sounding “Do You Read Me,” also found on his Top Priority album.  And his blues licks on “In Your Town” from his early Deuce (1971) is fiery.  Trust me, there are more greatness that awaits on these two discs, all of which will excite you.  The music of Rory Gallagher, at times full of Rock goodness, also blended in Blues and Jazz when the mood struck.  And they were always amazing.

This set does a great job of cherry-picking classic Gallagher tracks for the fan who may need/want a new collection, or, more likely, for the seeker who knows that there are undiscovered talent in the annals of Rock.  This set adds a 12-page booklet with notes by Daniel Gallagher (nephew of Rory), who also compiled this collection.  Included within the booklet is a 3-page essay on Rory Gallagher written by Ed Christman of Billboard Magazine.  Filling out the well-designed booklet are photos, album cover shots, and a fairly detailed track-listing.

Rory Gallagher never succumbed to joining the Stones, nor did he compromise his music to achieve a greater foothold.  Instead, he produced the music that he believed in, the stuff that came effortlessly from his soul.  Crest of a Wave lists the veil for those uninitiated pilgrims looking to Rock's past for greatness.  You have found a piece of that with his collected set.













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