45 Years Ago: Rory Gallagher and Taste Release Their Debut Album
45 years have passed since the world was introduced to the singular talents of Irish guitarist Rory Gallagher via the classic self-titled first album by his power trio Taste.
Assuming the world was paying attention, that is. You see, Gallagher’s name may elicit mere hints of familiarity to casual music fans, but for any self-respecting students of the electric guitar, it represents the epitome of personal and artistic craftsmanship devoted to both blues and rock. For fellow Irishmen, Rory meant even more: he was nothing less than a national folk hero.
Even as a child Gallagher had known that music was his life’s calling, and thus his professional apprenticeship began at the precocious age of fifteen, when he joined one of Cork’s homegrown dance bands and set about paying his dues. Even then, though, he had his sights on bigger things…
For while the hokey, old-fashioned dance band scene continued to suffocate most Irish musicians well into the middle ‘60s, Gallagher had his eye set on the more exciting, forward-thinking developments happening across the Muir Eireann (that’s the Irish Sea, for all you non-Celts). And by August of ’66, he had formed the first lineup of Taste with bassist Eric Kitteringham and drummer Norman Dameryist.
Two years and countless performances later (including long stints in Dublin and Belfast, and a visit to Hamburg’s infamous Reeperbahn), the rhythm section was replaced by bass player Richard McCracken and drummer John Wilson — just in time for Taste’s move to London, where the “power trio” was already well into its golden era. Once there, Taste followed in the footsteps of the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream by packing their eponymous debut (released through Polydor on April 1st, 1969) with a healthy wallop of the blues, a little jazz, and the exciting new developments in Marshall stack-assisted hard rock (but, tellingly, not an ounce of then-fashionable psychedelia).
But ‘Taste’ succeeded on its own terms thanks to stunning heavy rockers like ‘Blister on the Moon,’ ‘Same Old Story,’ and the timeless ‘Born on the Wrong Side of Time,’ as well as a wealth of accomplished blues numbers, both covered (Huddie Ledbetter’s ‘Leavin’ Blues’; Howlin’ Wolf’s ‘Sugar Mama’) and original (‘Hail,’ which showcases Gallagher’s naked talents; and ’Catfish,’ where he “out-Gods” Eric Clapton). Before they were done, Taste even found time to visit ‘50s rock via ‘Dual Carriageway Pain’ and American country music with an acoustic and slide guitar-infused rendition of Hank Snow’s ‘I’m Moving On.’
After the album’s release, Taste immediately hit the road and even ventured to America in support of Blind Faith; but though they soon returned to the studio and cut their nearly-as-impressive sophomore album, ‘On the Boards,’ growing musical and business differences soon convinced Gallagher to embark on a long and critically acclaimed solo career. But his first sighting alongside the other men in Taste cannot be overlooked or forgotten as his first major step towards immortality as perhaps the ultimate working-class-guitar-hero.
Hear ‘Taste’ by Taste