on 17 December 2005
Rory Gallagher made some of the most admirable albums in rock. He had no pretensions and no agenda of any kind other than a desire to make great music – which he did in spades. Tattoo is one of the best of a long list of great albums.
A key to the greatness of this album is that so much of it was reproduced for his following live album, including the wonderful title track which, while not as good as the live version, still kicks off the album in a great way. Gallagher’s diversity as a musician can be seen in the first half of the album with the furious rocker ‘Cradle Rock’, jaunty acoustic blues ’20:20 Vision’ and jazz masterpiece ‘They Don’t Make Them Like You Anymore’ standing tall together despite being very different songs. The latter in particular showcases some wonderful piano work by Lou Martin, one of three virtuoso musicians Gallagher was fortunate enough to have in his band.
It is on the second half though that the album really takes off. ‘Livin’ Like A Trucker’ is decent if a bit forgettable, but ‘Sleep On A Clothes-line’ is a great fun boogie; ‘Admit It’ is a sharp, snappy rock song and ‘Who’s That Coming’ shows Gallagher’s astounding slide guitar. The best track though has to be the heartbreaking ‘A Million Miles Away’, one of Gallagher’s greatest masterpieces and one (rightly) held in great esteem by fans.
The only non-essential track is the country ‘Tuscon, Arizona’, which is a musical style that Gallagher was rarely at his best at; that, however, is a bonus track and not a reflection on the greatness of the album itself. In any case the other bonus track, ‘Just A Little Bit’, is a wonderful blues jam that my feet can’t stop tapping to – and neither will yours.
The consistent brilliance of this album never fails to dazzle me. I’ve heard a lot of Gallagher albums and this is my personal favourite; in fact it probably ranks in my top ten albums of all time. It is highly recommended to anyone who wants to listen to good music as much as Gallagher wanted to make it.
on 9 September 2007
I have all Rory Gallagher's solo albums and with his former band Taste. They are all brilliant and in my opinion this one is the cream of the crop. It has absolutely everything you would expect from this superb performer.
I bought this record when it was first released and it has always been one of my favourite Rory albums. There is such a variety of styles, all of which he was a master of. The lyrics and singing - and the band are all superb. I recently bought it on CD and it is still one of my favourites. Just can't stop playing it! Don't go for the compilations - get this and Deuce and soak up the sheer energy of the Man. Thank God he didn't go down the middle of the road (Eric!)
on 26 May 2001
FROM THE SUBTLE ACOUSTIC BLUES OF 20:20 VISION, TO BLISTERING , BOISTEROUS , QUINTISSENTIAL GALLAGHER TRADEMARK TRACKS LIKE " SLEEP ON A CLOTHES LINE " & "LIVIN' LIKE A TRUCKER " THIS RANKS ALONGSIDE THE IRISHMAN'S FINEST. HE HARKS BACK TO HIS JAZZ INFLECTED, TASTE DAYS WITH THE SUPERB " THEY DON'T MAKE THEM LIKE YOU ANYMORE" ,CERTAINLY FOR ME THE ALBUM'S HIGHLIGHT. HAVING BEEN PRIVELEGED TO THE SIGHT ,AND AURAL DELIGHT ,OF RORY IN CONCERT ON 2
OCCASIONS (ALBEIT MANY MOONS AGO ) THIS STILL STANDS AS ONE OF HIS FINEST RECORDED ACHIEVEMENTS. IF YOU ENJOY BLUES WITH GRIT,POWER AND A HINT OF UNFORMULAIC REFINEMENT THEN PURCHASE THIS POSTE HASTE. THE MAN IS A LEGEND , AND HIS MEMORY WILL LINGER LONGER THAN ANY OTHER GALLAGHER CURRENTLY ATTEMPTING TO CLIMB ANY SORT OF MUSICAL EVEREST. IN A LEAGUE OF HIS OWN.
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 "Tattoo" (his 4th studio album for Polydor) 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 (and proper track placing too). Here are the finite details...
Released 16 January 2012 in the UK (31 Jan 2012 in the USA) - "Tattoo" is on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88691917462 and comes in a card digipak rather than a jewel case. The original vinyl album was released November 1973 in the UK on Polydor Super 2383 230 and Polydor PD 5539 in the USA (it charted at number 32 in England and number 187 in the States).
BONUS TRACK ANOMOLIES:
The two bonus tracks that first appeared on the 2000 CD reissue ("Tucson, Arizona" and "Just A Little Bit") have been reduced to one for this 2012 version - "Tucson, Arizona". Just to be a bit more confusing - those two bonuses and a 'third' track on the 2000 edition of "Irish Tour" are all tied-in and need some explanation.
"Tucson, Arizona" is a genuine album-sessions outtake from the period so it warranted its placing on the original "Tattoo" CD - as it does here. "Just A Little Bit", however, was the last track on Side 4 of the original "Irish Tour '74" double album. Released in July 1974 the classic 2LP set consisted of 3 sides Live and two loose 'Studio Jams' on Side 4 - one of which was the near eight-minute "Just A Little Bit" - a blistering cover of a 1959 Roscoe Gordon R'n'B number on Vee Jay. It should of course have been on the last track on the "Irish Tour" CD - but on that 2000 reissue fans were baffled to see it replaced with a new thing called "Maritime". Big mistake. Named after a bar in Belfast that both Rory and Van Morrison played in - "Maritime" turned out to be a mere snippet - a useless 33-second instrumental that was gone as fast as it was forgettable. Why it was put on there is anyone's guess. For this series of reissues - Donal Gallagher has had the right songs put on the right issues and the correct artwork reinstated (for "Irish Tour '74"). If you actually want the "Maritime" outtake - you will need to keep your old 2000 issue of "Irish Tour".
So what of the bonus track we do have - misspelled on the 2000 CD artwork as "Tuscon..." instead of "Tucson..." - that rather obvious spelling error hasn't been corrected for the new issue (a little sloppy really). "Tucson, Arizona" is a Link Wray cover version that first appeared on Link's lesser-seen "Be What You Want To" album from July 1974 on Polydor. Gallagher's take is more like whimsical Ronnie Lane and Slim Chance circa 1974 - and is so un-Rory-like. But as a bonus it's an interesting addition and shows another side to his musical interests that he didn't often get the chance to express on his official releases. And as I say "Just A Little Bit" is now back where it belongs - as the last track on the "Irish Tour '74" CD (the 2012 issue that is).
The gatefold card sleeve repros the colour artwork of the original vinyl album (front and rear) while the booklet is again 8 pages and features the same Donal Gallagher liner notes that were on the 2000 issue. There's a collage of photos of Rory taken by MICHAEL PUTLAND and RICHARD UPPER - but little that is new. It has to be said the card digipak is nice to look at and retailing at less than six quid (and even less online) - it's a cheap way of acquiring the music - as opposed to a now rare original album.
The initial 2000 CD was '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 (51:00 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. The new sound quality is superb - very clean and ballsy - and not as trebled up as the initial release.
"Tattoo" was also the 2nd album to feature the four-piece line-up that added Lou Martin's keyboards to Rory's overall sound. It was a big improvement over the slightly lacklustre "Blueprint" LP released earlier that same year - mostly because the songs were so much better - and in many cases - real growers. Among the 9 self-penned songs highlights included the rocking opener "Tattoo'd Lady", the acoustic strut of "20:20 Vision" and the much loved blues ambler "A Million Miles Away" (lyrics above) which is one of those rare outings that features him on Saxophone. I've also loved revisiting the boogie of "Sleep On A Clothes-Line" and "Admit It".
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. "Tattoo" is a great way to remember him - and frankly the other 5 titles listed below are pretty much the same.
In 1975 he then signed to Chrysalis and released an absolute belter - "Against The Grain" - the first album in my opinion to unleash the awesome power he had on stage but in the studio. I'm hoping it's in the next vanguard of digipak CD reissues. And great googly moo - am I looking forward to that.
Rock on you beautiful axeman...
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) - REVIEWED
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
on 14 January 2012
I have only recently come across Rory Gallagher so must confess not to know as much about him as other reviewers, however having listened to the album 3 or 4 times I have been extremely impressed.
I am a big fan of guitar based music, especially when its foundations are clearly in the blues, and Rory really knows how to play. I can't point out stand out songs because the whole standard is so high. I'm not as keen on Tuscon, Arizona but that is more to style of song as opposed to quality of the playing.
If you too like blues based, quality guitar play then I would strongly recommend this album. I have already bought another of his albums and also an album by Taste who he used to play with and I will be adding more to my collection.
In truth 4 and a half stars but I think with more plays will end up a 5.
on 10 January 2012
Another one of those seemingly lost albums from the 1970s which demonstrates the versatility and depth of Rory's talent. Why this man isn't rated more highly will remain a secret. From Tattoo'd Lady right through to the second bonus track, Just A Little Bit, there's a light which shines through the music. This must have been one of Rory's own favourite albums, judging by the number of tracks which he played live throughout the 1970s and 80s. If you have other albums by Rory this is one which you really should consider.
on 28 November 2015
I was aware of Rory Gallagher having seen Taste at the Isle of Wight in 1970 and saw Rory several years in succession in the early 1970s at Leeds Town Hall. This was the first album I bought by him and it was not until the late 1980s when I picked a vinyl copy up in a second hand shop in Bradford. I thought then, and still do now, that this is an absolutely fantastic album. Every track is top class, particularly the title track and the powerful blues rocker, Cradle Rock, which is among my favourite tracks by anyone. Also great are the acoustic blues 20:20 Vision, Who's That Coming, Sleep on a Clothes Line, Livin' like a Trucker and the superb jazzy swinger, They Don't make Them Like You Anymore. No wonder he has a pub dedicated to him outside Cork. He was a great songwriter as well as performer and, in my view a better guitarist than Clapton and Hendrix. This is one of his best albums and if you like Irish blues rock - or just great music - you should have a copy in your collection
on 7 February 2012
Ok. So it's an MP3 download and it's Rory Gallagher. If you like 1st class blues based rock then listen to Rory Gallagher. It's as simple as that. Only 4 stars because it's a pity the bit rate isn't higher. We don't all want to listen on our ipods.
on 16 October 2013
rory is allway's good on guitar thank you for your record i'm happy to listen it it's a good album and a serious sent !