Taste were a fantastic group. Rory played guitar and sang, Charlie McCracken was on bass – he went on to join The Spencer Davis Group – and the drummer was John Wilson, who used to be a member of Them. There were a couple of other guys in the band before Charlie and John, but that’s the line-up I remember best.
They were a typical power trio. I used to go and watch Taste at a club called Mother’s in Birmingham. I was only a kid – the first time I saw Rory, I didn’t even know how to play the guitar. I had no idea. But it made an incredible impression on me, to see this guy with a battered old Strat and an AC30, the sweat flying off him, playing the blues. To be more accurate, I suppose I should call it progressive blues.
I wouldn’t say Gallagher was underrated, people were certainly aware of him, but he never really broke as big as he should have done – not even after Taste split up and he went solo. Taste should have been massive and Rory was an extraordinary player – he had fantastic feel and energy. And he was so bloody down-to-earth. You could really relate to him.
I remember reading an interview with him once, and he said he used to play such gruelling live shows, he got blisters on his blisters. Ouch.
Taste’s debut album was released in 1969, and it never charted. I believe the follow-up, On The Boards, was more successful, but the first record is the one that does it for me.
It’s so raw, and it sounds like it was recorded in a single take, on a creaky old eight-track machine or something. The guitar playing can be a little meandering, but Rory sounds so passionate and soulful, it makes up for any shortcomings. He was only 19 or so when he made the album, which is amazing.
My favourite track is Dual Carriageway Pain. I don’t know why it’s called that – it’s got nothing to do with roads or motorways or anything. I think it’s about a man whose girlfriend or wife is playing around.
Rory sings the lyrics superbly, in that Irish brogue of his. I can just picture him in that lumber jack shirt he always used to wear, with that pained expression on his face… It’s marvellous stuff.
Blister On The Moon reminds me of Cream. Leaving Blues and Born On The Wrong Side Of Time – what a great title! – are also fine tracks. Taste were a bit more restrained and balanced than Rory was when he went solo – that was when he started to put himself forward as more of a guitar hero.
Like I said at the start, Rory Gallagher is the reason I play the guitar – no doubt about it.
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