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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.

Hugh Fielder has been writing about music for 47 years. Actually 58 if you include the essay he wrote about the Rolling Stones in exchange for taking time off school to see them at the Ipswich Gaumont in 1964. He was news editor of Sounds magazine from 1975 to 1992 and editor of Tower Records Top magazine from 1992 to 2001. Since then he has been freelance. He has interviewed the great, the good and the not so good and written books about some of them. His favourite possession is a piece of columnar basalt he brought back from Iceland.