*** THIS REVIEW IS FOR THE 2012 CD REISSUE ***
Under the supervision of Donal Gallagher (his older brother and former tour manager) - Irish guitar hero RORY GALLAGHER had his LP back-catalogue first reissued onto CD between 1998 and 2000. Each of those RCA/Capo releases came in jewel cases and had previously unreleased bonus tracks. The campaign culminated with a tremendous outtakes compilation in 2003 called "Wheels Within Wheels".
This latest version of "Deuce" (his second album) is one of six 'new' remasters released to coincide with the 40th Anniversary of his Solo career (list below). So what's different? In a nutshell - cheaper price, upgraded packaging and 2011 mastering. Here are the finite details...
Released 16 January 2012 in the UK (31 Jan 2012 in the USA) - "Deuce" is on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88691917372 and comes in a card digipak rather than a jewel case. The single bonus track "Persuasion" which first appeared on the 1999 CD reissue has disappeared without mention. It sounded to me suspiciously like a much later outtake stuck on the end of that reissue so it would have something previously unreleased on it. There is no mention either in the slightly reworked liner notes as to why it's been dropped.
The gatefold card sleeve repros the colour artwork of the original vinyl album (front and rear) while the booklet is only slightly extended over the previous 1999 foldout inlay (8 pages as opposed to 6). There is a collage of extra photos of Rory taken by MICK ROCK who took the original atmospheric shots of Rory for the front and rear sleeve in 1971. The 3-page liner notes of the 1999 version by Shu Tomioka and Charles Stanford are slightly altered but now only credited to Donal Gallagher? They also lazily leave the running order in the incorrect way ("I'm Not Awake Yet" and "Used To Be" when it should be the other way around). While the packaging is disappointingly lazy - it has to be said that the card digipak is nice to look at - and retailing at less than six quid (and even cheaper online) - it's adequate.
Originally released November 1971 on Polydor 2383 076 in the UK and Atco SD 7004 in the USA - and with all 10 tracks self-penned and self-produced - the songwriting and playing on his second solo album improved hugely on his unflashy debut album from May of that same year. For that reason "Deuce" has been a huge fan favourite ever since - name-checked by such luminaries as Johnny Marr of The Smiths. The Edge of U2 and Slash of Guns 'N Roses. The greatly talented and much-missed US comedian Bill Hicks raved about it for years too. The original British vinyl album in particular (some 40 years after the event) with its easy to damage and flimsy sleeve has become increasingly expensive in Auctions (much like the TASTE studio albums from 1969 and 1970). So this budget-priced CD is a great way of acquiring a rarity at a very reasonable cost. However, the new sound may present fans with real problems...
The initial 1999 CDs were 'remixed and remastered' by Tony Arnold at Courthouse Facilities in Dorset - these are 'untampered' versions remastered by ANDY PEARCE and MATT WORTHAM at Wired Masters in the UK in November 2011 (46:58 minutes total playing time). Andy and Matt have been involved in and received praise for remasters of Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, Frankie Miller, Wishbone Ash and The Kinks (many of which I've reviewed). For these reissues the original 1/4 master tapes have been returned to - therefore giving the fans the album Rory himself would have approved rather than the slightly 'altered' preceding version. However - unlike the great sound quality on the first LP I've reviewed in this series - the results on "Deuce" are very mixed - and in some cases have revealed flaws on the original tapes hidden by the remix of 1999...
First up is the running order - the 1999 version put "I'm Not Awake Yet" and "Used To Be" as Tracks 1 and 2 (the wrong way around) - both songs are finally presented here in their correct running order. However it's now obvious why they were reversed on the 1999 version - they were hiding something. "Used To Be" (which opens the 2012 CD) has a crackling to the guitar in the first 30 seconds that is very pronounced - the tape is probably corrupted. If you go back to the 1999 version - it is on there - but mixed to the background - here it isn't. So as you play the track now - its 'pronounced distortion' is very disconcerting to say the least. Unfortunately the same slight crackle is on parts of "Maybe I Will" too - while the acoustic guitars of "I'm Not Awake Yet" that are on the 1999 remix will make fans feel that this 'authentic' version is a little bare.
On the up side - "Don't Know Where I'm Going" is fabulous acoustic Blues and it sounds great. "Whole Lot Of People" retains the 'live' feel Rory wanted - complete with him shouting before he goes into that speaker-to-speaker solo. The studio version of "In Your Town" is a tad beefed up too and I've always loved the slow feel to "Should've Learned My Lesson" - probably the best-sounding track on here. The jazzy "There's A Light" has beautifully sweet Bass from Gerry McAvoy and great swirling guitars/off-centre vocals from Rory. And I can still remember to this day the excitement and frustration of trying to copy the acoustic brilliance of the Doc Watson influenced "Out Of My Head" (lyrics above). I'm sure my teenage attempts were mirrored by hundreds of other budding guitarists. "Out Of My Mind" was just so brilliantly musical and showed off his amazing playing skill for a lad of only 23. The album then ends on a rock high with "Crest Of A Wave" where the band kicks in with some power.
So if I'm to be brutally honest - the sound on this 2012 version of "Deuce" (one of his most beloved of albums) is a tad disappointing - and even dull in places. Ok - authenticity has been restored - but if its to the listener's loss (and with the bonus track chopped off) - a punter might feel seriously short-changed here. But like the soppy fan I am - I took one look at the card digipak - and bought it anyway! Should you ditch the old version - no - but try to get to hear this one too - there are sonic upgrades worth having.
Like most Irishmen, I can't be rational about Rory Gallagher. I saw him and his band as a teenager live in Dublin in the early Seventies and the experience was mind-blowing. I then bought every album he ever put out after that and always looked forward to hearing where his flying fingers would take me next.
Rory was sadly lost to us in 1995 through liver failure - and it still hurts to think that this most unassuming and brilliant of guitar heroes is gone.
Best we remember him this way - even if this reissue is flawed.
PS: the titles in this 2012 CD & Download reissue series so far are:
1. "Rory Gallagher" (originally UK released in May 1971) - REVIEWED
2. "Deuce" (November 1971) - REVIEWED
3. "Live! In Europe" (May 1972)
4. "Blueprint" (February 1973)
5. "Tattoo" (November 1973) - REVIEWED
6. "Irish Tour '74" (July 1974) [2LP set on 1CD - Sides 1 to 3 are Live - Side 4 is Studio Jams]
PPS: Released 27 Feb 2012 - there are also 180-gram vinyl versions of each of the above titles available on the "Music On Vinyl" Label