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Rory Gallagher: Notes From San Francisco

Opportunity knocked.

Whether this unreleased 1978 album produced by Elliot Mazer could have reinvigorated Rory Gallagher’s career is debatable, but it was certainly a pivotal moment.

Gallagher had picked Mazer for the album, recorded in San Francisco, impressed by what he’d done for Janis Joplin’s Cheap Thrills and Neil Young’s Harvest. And Mazer did what he does best: took the comfort zone away from the artist and watched how they responded. This included paying more attention to the structure of the songs, highlighting keyboard player Lou Martin and adding an occasional violin or saxophone.

It’s an exciting glimpse of Gallagher’s guitar in a broader setting, but it’s only a glimpse because he doesn’t fully embrace the challenge. By the mixing stage he was getting cold feet and the album was ditched. Subsequently Gallagher reverted to a trio who can be heard on the bonus disc, live from San Francisco’s Old Waldorf.