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Rory Gallagher

Crest of a Wave: The Best of Rory Gallagher

Review by Gary Hill

If you are like me you knew who Rory Gallagher was, but never really picked up an album by him. Well, for those looking to get caught up on their rock history, here’s a great compilation that makes for a good starting point. I wouldn’t say every track here is essential, but I’d say there’s no throwaway material to be found. This covers a wide range of musical styles and really shows what a talented and diverse artist Rory Gallagher was.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 5 at
Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Follow Me

There’s an almost punk texture to the opening here, but the song modulates out to something more akin to glam rock. Of course, there was a healthy dosage of glam in a lot of punk rock. The chorus has a distinctly Beatles-like hook. The guitar solo sections on this are real scorchers.

While the delivery is more modern than that, this cut is based on a 1950’s style rock and roller. It’s definitely got more of that punk vibe and I could actually imagine hearing The Ramones do this one.
Do You Read Me
There’s an almost R & B texture to this. It’s got a killer retro, soulful sound. There’s a tasty keyboard sound and some awesome music. I like the first couple tracks here, too – but this one blows both of them away. There’s some cool synthesizer on this, too – and over all it’s just a smoking, bluesy number.
Bought & Sold
Even more bluesy, with a rather stripped down, old school blues sound, this is another strong cut. It’s perhaps not on the same level as the three openers, though. Still, the guitar solo is tasty and tasteful. There’s also a second guitar solo section that reminds of bands like The Small Faces.
Loanshark Blues
This stripped down cut has some rockabilly in it, but also (as the title tells you) plenty blues. It’s a more stripped back version of the kind of music George Thorogood does.
In Your Town
The most stripped down, down home blues cut to this point, this one is cool – if a bit raw. Again, in terms of type of music (but not arrangement) this isn’t far from the kind of stuff we are used to hearing from Lonesome George Thorogood – right down to the killer slide guitar soloing. 
Calling Card
This is a great blues number with a lot of piano in the arrangement. The mood and style is just plain classic and there’s some exceptionally tasty guitar soloing throughout.
Million Miles Away
There’s still a bit of a stripped down bluesy rock element to this and yet, somehow it reminds me a bit of Traffic. Certainly we don’t get the horn arrangement and such, but the musical stylings and progressions make me think of that band. It’s a great tune and one of my favorites on the set. 
Walk on Hot Coals
In some ways the musical arrangement here doesn’t differ a lot from the previous track. That said, this is a lot more energized and is really a fast paced powerhouse. It’s another great tune and another highlight. There is an awesome instrumental jam later in the number.
I Fall Apart
This is quite a bit different from anything we’ve heard to this point. It’s also a great tune. It’s got a bit of a bluesy nature, but tempered with an almost folk rock sound. The guitar soloing on here might be the tasty of the set – and that says a lot. This is definitely another highlight and gets quite jazzy at times. As it becomes more hard rocking later it reminds me quite a bit of Thin Lizzy.
Tattoo'd Lady
Starting with an almost psychedelic, space rock little interlude, this moves out to a more standard rocker. This is another that makes me think of Thin Lizzy. There’s an almost proggy portion to the instrumental break, but then it breaks out into a glam rock styled jam from there.
Crest of a Wave
This excels in a couple of ways. First off the fast paced, hard edged, bluesy jam calls to mind Led Zeppelin and is quite strong. Secondly the slide guitar solo is simply awe-inspiring. Again, the comparisons to Jimmy Page and company are obvious there.
Disc 2
Bad Penny
Here’s another scorching hard rocker. Again this one reminds me quite a bit of Thin Lizzy. 
Overnight Bag
This one pounds in hard and heavy, but resolves out to a more pop rock oriented hook. It’s got both a poppy sound (with some Beatles-like hooks) and a killer crunch element that calls to mind Thin Lizzy once more.
Another hard rocker, this one has a different texture. There’s not really a lot of blues in the mix. It’s a strong cut and one of the more unique ones here. I’d consider it a highlight of the set. Somehow it reminds me a bit of Hendrix’s version of Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.”
Shadow Play
This is another track that has more of a pop feeling to it. It’s still got some crunch and a respectable hard rocking sound. There’s definitely some of that glam meets punk sound. 
The arrangement on this has some intriguing changes. It’s a fast paced, chugging number that again reminds me a bit of Thin Lizzy. Yet there’s almost a heavy metal air to this at times, too. This is one of the standouts.
They Don't Make Them Like You Anymore
There’s definitely a lot of jazz in this one. In some ways it reminds me of Van Morrison and it’s got some extremely tasty guitar and piano soloing. It’s definitely a piece of variety and a highlight of the set.
Edged in Blue

This comes in as a slower and more evocative bluesy rocker. As it works out to the song proper it is perhaps along the lines of a cross between the 1970’s version of Eric Clapton’s solo work and Thin Lizzy. I can also hear some George Harrison solo on this.

Wheels Within Wheels
A stripped down acoustic ballad makes up the main song structure of this, although other instrumentation is added and it does intensify. The comparisons to both George Harrison and Eric Clapton here are deserved.
Out on the Western Plain
Acoustic all the way, this is definitely a cow-poke song, but it’s very bluesy, too.
Out of My Mind
Here’s an acoustic blues piece. It’s a nice change of pace.
Barley and Grape Rag
This is an acoustic based rag-time number with plenty of bluegrass in the mix. Again, it’s a definite piece of variety.
Lonesome Highway
An intriguing cut, in many ways this is just an electrified acoustic based blues number. That said, there’s a cool little Byrds like jam tacked onto the end.
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