Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Rory Gallagher: Check Shirt Wizard: Live in '77


Rory Gallagher: Check Shirt Wizard: Live in '77


Sign in to view read count
Rory Gallagher: Check Shirt Wizard: Live in '77
Check Shirt Wizard: Live in 1977 is yet another in a lengthy string of posthumous archival work devoted to Irish guitarist and songwriter Rory Gallagher. Like virtually all its predecessors in both audio and video configurations, including Live at Montreux (Eagle, 2006) and Notes From San Francisco (Eagle/Legacy, 2011), this double CD set (also available as three vinyl LPs with similarly variegated artwork, action photos and replications of press testimonials of the time) not only does justice to, but enhances the legacy of, the iconoclastic blues-rocker.

A collection of live recordings from early in that designated year, the performances on the two compact discs flow with the logic of a fine concert, capturing the dynamics of Rory arguably in the prime of his life. The ebb and flow of this intensity takes the form of electricity as it courses through "Bullfrog Blues" and "Used To Be," as well as potent acoustic selections like Lead Belly's "Out On The Western Plain" and Blind Boy Fuller's "Pistol Slapper Blues;" there, as on originals such as "Too Much Alcohol" and "Going To My Hometown," Gallagher demonstrates the power of his playing comes from within him, not the amplifiers.

Almost exactly two hours in duration, the setlist may be (overly) familiar to devout Rory loyalists, but it offers a virtual primer for the dilettante and/or those curious how something of a cult has arisen around this musician: Check Shirt Wizard is clearly the work of a man knows his roots and has built an idiosyncratic style all his own upon them. Tapes from all four of these shows were originally captured on the The Rolling Stones' and Jethro Tull's mobile studios, and, for the purposes of this release, they've been mixed from the original multi-track tapes and mastered at Abbey Road Studios.

As a result, the mix is skeletal yet punchy, matching the arrangements and the passion in the playing. And it's not just the leader's musicianship either: the rhythm section of bassist Gerry McAvoy and drummer Rod de'Ath is equally skillful at both following and anticipating the frontman's moves, even when moving at the hell-bent pace of "Country Mile, while keyboardist Lou Martin is comparably quick and empathetic, especially in his trade-offs during solos during "Walk On Hot Coals" (and the latter also knows how to stay out of the way too).

Ostensibly touring to support the album release of late the year prior, Calling Card (Chrysalis, 1976), Rory and his band here also feature material off previously-issued solo titles from Gallagher's solo career, including Deuce (Polydor, 1971), Blueprint (Polydor, 1973 )and Against the Grain (Chrysalis, 1975). That the range of material respectively comprised of "Used to Be," "Walk On Hot Coals" and "Souped Up Ford" exhibits such continuity is a testament to both the bond of the band (at this point aligned some four years) and the values of economy and passion intrinsically honed in the leader's songwriting, plus the raw and often white-hot guitar work since his days as a member of the seminal power trio Taste.

Those essential virtues combine with Rory Gallagher's irrepressible stage presence to evoke the uproarious audience response heard more than once on Live in '77.

Track Listing

CD 1: Do You Read Me; Moonchild; Bought And Sold; Calling Card; Secret Agent; Tattoo’d Lady; A Million Miles Away; I Take What I Want; Walk On Hot Coals. CD 2: Out On The Western Plain; Barley & Grape Rag; Pistol Slapper Blues; Too Much Alcohol; Going To My Hometown; Edged In Blue; Jack-Knife Beat; Souped-Up Ford; Bullfrog Blues; Used To Be; Country Mile.


Additional Instrumentation

Rory Gallagher: mandolin; Lou Martin: organ; Gerry McAvoy: bass; Rod de'Ath: drums.

Album information

Title: Check Shirt Wizard: Live in '77 | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Universal Music Group

< Previous
Ordinary Heroes



For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.


Mad Dream
Sued / Nandayapa / Bergmann / Saunders
8 Concepts of Tango
Hakon Skogstad
Bruno Raberg Tentet


The Seagull's Serenade
Dominik Schürmann
Heartland Radio
Remy Le Boeuf’s Assembly of Shadows

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.