Amazingly this is the first time I have heard this Rory Gallagher album. Why amazingly? Well I have seen him twice in concert and have 12 of his other albums and 3 bootlegs.
So it is with almost "fresh ears" that I approach this, recently remastered, album. There are a few tracks that have appeared on two of his compilation albums, Big Guns and The Essential Rory Gallagher-Cradle Rock, A Million Miles Away and They Don't Make Them Like You Anymore spring to mind. Just before I put this version on I was curious about the remastering and threw on a few tracks from The Essential Rory Gallagher. This new version is superb, the music and playing all hang together better than the Essential Rory Gallagher version(which I prefer by, to borrow a phrase Rory sings about, a country mile to the Big Guns version), not a night and day difference, but, a clearly audible difference nonetheless. The new sound is not as ultraclean and is not as loud as the 2008 issue, so you have to crank the stereo up a bit more. However the Andy Pierce and Matt Wortham remaster(and maybe even remixing) sounds more realistic, easier to listen to. The acoustic and slide guitar in particular benefit from this, as does Lou Martins keyboards, you would swear he is in the room. You get the picture, I hope.
The music itself is first class. This is a real Rory Gallagher fan must own album. The range of playing on offer here is wide ranging, from country(almost, the track Tucson Arizona) to hard and heavy rock(Cradle Rock) via the blues(A Million Miles Away), more than a hint of jazz(They Don't Make Them Like You Anymore), and some serious slide guitar playing(Whos That Coming-as good as Ry Cooder, easily). All played with total conviction and panache.
It is interesting to see Rory credited with the saxophone on this album. This use of brass is on A Million Miles Away and works well, although it might have been better(heresy moment) to have got a more experienced blues sax player in, a few extra notes in the right place etc.... The use of brass is one of the reasons that Rory ditched the original San Francisco sessions and yet it adds a depth to his music that I think really helps things move along.
If you already have it, I am not sure how much of a benefit this remastering will bring to your enjoyment of the album. If you do not have it and you are even vaguely interested in Rory Gallagher buy it right now. It is a stunner, amongst his best.