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Rory Gallagher: Deuce: 50th Anniversary Edition

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Rory Gallagher: Deuce: 50th Anniversary Edition
Since Rory Gallagher's untimely passing in 1995, there have been more than a few posthumous audio and video packages devoted to the prolific output of the late bluesman. And while most of them, supervised by family members as is this one, have been both historically exacting and passionate in devotion to their subject, none are more so than this Deuce: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of the man's second solo album.

With its nine and a half inch square physical dimensions somewhat smaller in comparison to its corollary of 2021, based upon Gallagher's eponymous debut, it is proportionate to its content. Comprised of all audio recordings both live and studio but no video, it is not quite so broad in its reach, but just as deep. Meanwhile, the varied content somewhat belies the logic of the four-CD set: the most revelatory nature within does not always correlate to its most novel aspects.

The main album in its modified form is a case in point. Remixed by Martin Dubka, it has also been mastered by Frank Arkwright at Abbey Road Studios (a fitting turnabout as the original album was similarly finalized at The Beatles' Apple recording facilities ). Not surprisingly, the sonics maximize the stripped-down trio sound of Gallagher with his two-man rhythm section, bassist Gerry McAvoy and drummer Wilgar Campbell. In comparison to that of the 1999 expanded reissue and its counterpart release of eleven years later (with a slightly altered track sequence), the audio here is far and away superior. The immediacy remains steady as guitars, bass, drums and vocals assumes its proportionate designated space in the stereo spectrum.

The stage recordings sourced from Radio Bremen and the BBC are understandably less pristine, but only slightly so. Still, there is no discernible drop off in the energy level of the musicians during, for instance, "Should've Learned My Lesson." In fact, it is quite the contrary, a testament to how successfully Gallagher and company, often repairing to London's Tangerine Studio after a live gig, achieved their aim of capturing the intensity level of the stage on the studio recordings.

Engineer Robin Sylvester proved himself a master at capturing the spontaneous atmosphere of those occasions (no doubt why he ended up in the role for an extended tenure). But much of this continuity derives from the way the rhythm section of McAvoy and Campbell built upon its previous bond in an earlier alliance, then contoured their individual and shared styles accordingly.

With the bulk of the studio alternates sequenced to mirror the album proper (and filling the playing time of their respective CDs), the abundance of previously-unreleased material constitutes a magnified examination of Deuce. There's hardly any less power, only a different sort, in the various band renditions or the electric arrangements versus the acoustic counterparts.

The process of discovering an acceptable version seems to take on a life of its own. The frontman worked his way past the overly- expedient and formulaic to arrive at the chosen take of "Used To Be," to name just one. And the process he enacted with the rhythm section was no more or less meticulous for the most stellar of these compositions, "There's A Light" and "Crest Of A Wave" (both of which, not coincidentally, appear in the home stretch of the final running order).

The home demos (pieced together by executive producer Donal Gallagher) radiate a comparable force. In the midst of the creative process, Gallagher is himself his own best catalyst for inspiration, after which he could then pass on his ideas to his bandmates and the other studio collaborators. Yet subsequent finishing touches are minimal, including only the most limited overdubbing of multiple acoustic guitars on selected cuts like "I'm Not Awake Yet."

Because few tracks exceed seven minutes duration, this is one archival package that has its own intrinsic and unusual durability. Rather than try the attention span, these four versions of "Whole Lot of People" piques the curiosity, discerning fundamental differences in the electric take and its six and twelve-string acoustic versions. And certainly it helps in this context that there's no sense of boredom with the proceedings on the part of Rory and company either.

Within the hardcover enclosed in a slipcase of similarly glossy finish, the inclusion of handwritten lyrics, some alongside iconic photo portraits, add both an immediacy and an additional personal touch to the words. Captions for the photos would further identify the moments as captured on film, but it is pointless to quibble with what is perhaps an unavoidable omission. Besides, Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr's first person narrative about learning to formulate his own musicianly persona by listening to Rory Gallagher—and this album in particular—is a priceless insertion that more than compensates.

This musician's recollections, in particular those related to the subject's distinctive and abandoned slide playing, are a welcome counterpart and contrast to Rich Davenport's incisive essay. The author maintains a breezy tone in his writing without giving short shrift to the timeline and circumstances surrounding an album that, miraculously, was released a mere six months after Rory Gallagher's first record under his own name.

In the end, the deceptively plain and unforced language of lyric images such as that in "Maybe I Will '' may be the most reliable sign of the confidence by which this iconoclastic musician came to abide in writing and recording Deuce. That unceasingly staunch attitude, to which sibling/former manager Donal refers more than once in the book, thus became a hallmark of this proud Irishman's career. Consequently, this Deuce: 50th Anniversary Edition radiates all that much more of an essential quality than the chronology of the package might otherwise dictate.

Track Listing

CD1 - Used to Be; I’m Not Awake Yet; Don’t Know Where I’m Going; Maybe I Will; Whole Lot of People; In Your Town; Should’ve Learnt My Lesson; There’s a Light; Out of My Mind; Crest of a Wave. CD2 - Used to Be; Used to Be; I’m Not Awake Yet; Don’t Know Where I’m Going; Maybe I Will; Maybe I Will; Maybe I Will; Maybe I Will; Maybe I Will; Whole Lot of People; Whole Lot of People; Whole Lot Of People; Whole Lot of People; In Your Town; In Your Town; In Your Town. CD 3 - In Your Town; Should’ve Learnt My Lesson; Should’ve Learnt My Lesson; Should’ve Learnt My Lesson; Should’ve Learnt My Lesson; There’s A Light There’s A Light; There’s A Light; Out of My Mind; Out of My Mind; Out of My Mind; Crest of a Wave; Crest of a Wave; Don’t Know Where I’m Going; Maybe I Will; Should’ve Learnt My Lesson. CD4 - Radio Bremen 12/21/1971: Should’ve Learnt My Lesson; Crest of a Wave; I Could’ve Had Religion; For The Last Time;Messin’ With The Kid; Don’t Know Where I’m Going; Pistol Slapper Blues; Used To Be. BBC In Concert January 13 1972: Should’ve Learnt My Lesson; Out Of My Mind; I Could’ve Had Religion Crest Of A Wave; Messin’ With The Kid.

Personnel

Rory Gallagher: guitar; Gerry McAvoy: bass; Wilgar Campbell: drums.

Additional Instrumentation

Personnel: Rory Gallagher: vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica.

Album information

Title: Deuce: 50th Anniversary Edition | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Universal Music Group


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