Development of the British Blues and Rhythm--- show 34 --- 8-26-2015
Ten Years After 1969 & 1970Taste 1969 & 1970
*************************Rory Gallagher was one of those names I was familiar with but never had the opportunity to hear his music. That situation was rectified a couple of years back when I bought five of his albums in a reasonably priced set, much of which was played during last year’s St. Patty’s Day show. The day had always been one used to present the British side of the Blues, but since that was to what the entire year was anticipated to be devoted (obviously, it has lasted a little longer) I decided to narrow the focus and play the music of two Irishmen, that of Gallagher and Van Morrison. But today we go a little farther back and seek out the music from his first LPs while with his band Taste.
Rory would prove himself proficient on the mandolin, dobro, harmonica and saxophone but his favorite tool complement his vocals was his Fender Stratocaster, for which he paid 100 pounds, quite a hefty price for a 14-year-old. There were the normal influences of the time, initially Skiffle (he formed his first band with his brother Donal) and then American Rock ‘n’ Roll and Rockabilly.
Rory was born March 2nd in Ballyshannon but was raised in the city of Cork where, in 1964, he answered an ad in that city’s Examiner for a guitarist and found himself in the Fontana Show Band. “We played all over Ireland, toured Spain and did a couple of English gigs. It turned out to be great fun. We were luckier than most show bands; the drummer wanted to do Jim Reeves stuff but the rest of us anted to play Nadine and A Shot of Rhythm and Blues.” The band was able to intersperse Rock and R&B tunes amid the standard fare of Irish dance and Country songs and the current pop songs the audience was expecting.
Moving more toward the British beat music, the band changed its name to the Impact, and during the summer of 1965 the band was holding down a six week residency at an American base near Madrid, but by the time they returned to the U.K. the group broke up. The band’s manager convinced Rory to put together a group to fulfill contractual obligations in Hamburg, Germany, retaining the bass player and finding a new drummer. The club expectations were for more than a trio so a fourth body was put in the publicity photos and when the trio appeared they explained that “the organist” came down with a case of appendicitis. After the demanding German schedule was completed this ensemble also fell apart.Then, after filling in with the band the Axels as they met their final commitments before they disbanded, Rory joined forces with the band’s drummer, Norman D’Amery, and bass player Eric Kitteringham, and took the name Taste. The trio played the standard British fare of Rock, Blues, and R&B but also began to infuse material into their act that the members had written. Playing as a three-piece again became problematic as the Federation of Irish Musicians, comprised mostly of show band players, had set a minimum number of musicians allowed to work in its jurisdiction. As they were preparing for their first gig at the Arcadia in Cork, the Federation proposed a compromise if the band would audition for the union. Taste, all veterans from show bands themselves, found the request undignified and caused the Federation to relent and opened up the country for smaller ensembles.
Early 1967 found them playing around Cork and Dublin and then going onto Hamburg. Upon their return to Ireland they relocated to Belfast and acquired a residency at the Maritime Hotel, where the 1974 release In the Beginning, 1967: Early Taste of Rory Gallagher was recorded. The band was used to open for some of the visiting British Blues bands, the like of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Aynsley Dunbar’s Retaliation, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, and Cream, opening opportunities in London, most notably at the Marquee, and they made the city their home in May of 1968. Almost immediately, the band broke up and, by August, Gallagher had assembled another trio with a pair of Irishmen who had met in the Derek and the Sounds Show Band, drummer John Wilson and bass player Richard McCracken. Wilson had also put in a short term with the Irish band Them.They stayed busy with several appearances at the Speakeasy club and the acquisition of Tuesday nights at the Marquee, where their October 25th 1968 act became available in 1987, and also played at the Royal Albert Hall for Cream’s farewell performance.
All of today’s selections are taken from the CD Best of Taste, with only one tune left out, and I believe it represents Gallagher’s sentiments toward music well. “When I listen to something I like, I like to be taken out of my seat and tossed across the room. I like guts, a good drive, which can include gentle stuff too. If it sounds good and feels good, that’s it.” Aside from Sugar Mama, which is instead presented in the live segment, only one tune from the original 1967 debut self-titled album is missing from the compilation (we chose to omit a second one, otherwise you hear the entire disc) and the follow-up, On the Boards, lacks only four.
While the first LP failed to chart in the U.S. or the U.K., it did reach #10 in Holland. Taste became a major draw in Europe and perhaps the pinnacle of their success was the 1969 tour in support of Blind Faith and Delaney, Bonnie & Friends. The band’s music became elongated in the live performances as they improvised strongly. As Rory told Hit Parader, “We work things out as we go. We don’t want to ever play it safe. . .it may fall really flat some nights, but you will be sure never to hear the same thing twice.”On the Boards hit the record bins in January 1970 and made #18 in Britain and #33 in Germany. As Lester Bangs opined in Rolling Stone, “The band as a whole is so tight and compelling, the songs so affecting, and the experiments and improvisations so clearly thought out, that it seems a shame to even suggest that Taste be classed in any way with that great puddle of British Blues bands. Everybody else is just wood shedding. Taste have arrived.”
A European tour culminated on August 28th 1970 at the Isle of Wight Festival and part of Taste’s performance is captured on the documentary film. In fall, the band made their first major tour of England but although the band was achieving its justified popularity, its members could not get along and the group disbanded Two live albums were released, Live Taste from the Montreux Casino) as well as from the Isle of Wight.Gallagher assembled another trio and released his first solo LP very late in 1970. I picked up a double CD of his BBC work and will present it in an upcoming show, but in two weeks I will be celebrating the first show of my 26th year in this time slot with as close a reproduction as possible of the music played on the very first Key to the Highway show which aired on August 28th 1990. Here’s to another 25.
*************************Unlike Rory Gallagher, there likely was not a pair of albums I played more often around the time of their release (both 1969) than Stonehenge and Ssssh, the first two sets by Ten Years After in today’s show. I saw the Alvin Lee-fronted band twice before their historic performance at Woodstock, but after that I thought they went too commercial for my Blues-oriented tastes. Still, I was able to make an enjoyable set from the next two albums, Cricklewood Green (actually recorded prior to the Woodstock concert) and Watt, both released in 1970
*************************Hear Me Calling
FAROThree Blind Mice
I Can’t Live Without Lydia
I’m Gonna Try
Ten Years After
Blister on the MoonLeavin’ Blues
Born on the Wrong Side of Time
Same Old Story
I’m Moving On
Bad SceneTwo Time Mama
Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
I Woke Up This Morning
Ten Years After
What’s Going On
Railway and Gun
It’s Happened Before, It’ll Happen Again
If the Day Were Any Longer
Eat My Words
On the Boards
Sugar the RoadWorking the Road
Year 3000 Blues
Me and My Baby
Love Like a Man
As the Sun Still Burns Away
I’m Coming On
· I Say Yeah (time permitting)
I’m Gonna Run
Ten Years After
I Feel So GoodSugar Mama