Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Technical Info

Label: Chrysalis
Country: UK
Released: 1982
Genre: Rock
Style: Hard Rock, Classic Rock
Credits: Bass - Jerry McAvoy
Drums - Brendan O'Neill
Engineer - Jurgen Kramer
Keyboards - Bob Andrews
Mastered By - John Denth
Other [Design] - John Pasche
Photography - Brian Cooke, Erhard Schultz
Producer - Rory Gallagher
Saxophone - Dick Parry , Ray Beavis
Written By - M. Levy / H. Glover / T. Reid (tracks: B3) , Rory Gallagher (tracks: A1 to A5, B1, B2, B4)
Notes: Recorded at Dierks Studios (Koln, W. Germany). Mastered at the Sound Clinic.


1. Big Guns
2. Bourbon
3. Double Vision
4. The Devil Made Me Do It
5. Signals
6. Jinxed
7. Easy Come Easy Go
8. Nothin' But The Devil
9. Ride On Red, Ride On
10. Lonely Mile
11. Loose Talk

[The passage below has been taken from the former page on Taste, Rory's first band.

Blues-rock is the most unfortunate genre in the world: its fans are in a pitiful minority, and both the working class representatives that far prefer the Sex Pistols and the witty elite that far prefers Emerson, Lake & Palmer despise it as something boring, repetitive and lacking entertainment value (in the first case), or as something simplistic, dated and primitive (in the second case). I know I should probably be hating it too, seeing as how blues-rock is one of the most derivative genres in rock and my position is always to stress the originality. But heck, I think the blues is one of the greatest musical forms ever created, and I have long before learned that the essence of blues is not in 'what' but in 'how'. Don't ask the blues guy: 'Why are you playing things that everybody else plays?' Instead, ask the blues guy: 'What is your personal contribution to blues and your own unique ways to interpret it? What's your special gimmickry? Why should we listen to you and not Long John Bauldry instead?' The band I'm going to review here certainly had a good and satisfying answer to that question. But nobody really wants to care about the answer - and this is probably the reason why the band I'm going to review here is virtually unknown in the States, and even in the UK none of their albums seem to be in print.

Come on now - have you ever even heard of Taste? One might have heard of Rory Gallagher and his solo 'guitar hero' career in the Seventies (not to mention that his untimely death in 1995 did lead to a sudden rise of interest towards the man, perverse as it is), but nobody remembers Taste, the band that arguably represents his best and freshest period of activity. The albums that I'm going to review below are impossible to find in the States or, in fact, all over the world; they are out of print for years and can probably be only got through special order in a half-obscure Internet used CD store. This is, however, the advantage of living in Russia: I managed to get both of their studio albums plus Live Taste (for the cheapest price imaginable, too), since they have been kindly printed by blues-friendly record companies. Maybe they're pirated, but I don't give a damn, being still happy as a pup!

No, I'm definitely not a hardcore blues or blues-rock fan. I, too, find blues as a genre somewhat (somewhat, but not gruesomely) overrated, and there are so many unimaginative, rip-off-ey blues-rock acts in the world that I fully understand how one can get sick of that crap. There is one big advantage to blues-rock, though: its primary form is so perfect, so brilliantly accomplished and wonderfully catchy from the very start, that one simply can't go wrong with playing electric blues - that is, if one knows how to do it really, really good. The standard blues formula might be one of the best musical forms of the 20th century, but it really all depends on how you do it. It isn't enough just to play a straight 4/4 and sing on key (or off key, for that matter). Some bands, like the Rolling Stones, Cream, or Led Zeppelin, knew how to make their blues sound wonderfully fresh and invigorating - with sharp, hard-hitting, well-tuned guitars (all the three), magnificent harmonica solos (Stones), dangerous-sounding vocals (Stones again), stunning guitar heroics (Cream) or a dark, mystical mood (Led Zep). Other bands, which I'll never even be naming here, never had anything of that - and ended up sounding dull, derivative and forgettable.

Taste were indeed 'taste', and an acquired one: one of the last great blues-rock bands, and certainly the last 'purist' blues-rock band with any significant importance (unless you count The Doobie Brothers, of course). They were an Irish 'power trio', modelling themselves after Cream, but they rarely sounded like Cream - not because they couldn't, but because they wouldn't. Drummer John Wilson was a really talented dude, with drums cleverly bashing all over the place, but he never engaged in lengthy, pointless drum solos, like Ginger Baker (I mean, he did drum solos, but short ones, and that's an entirely different matter). Bassist Richard McCracken might not have had the guts of Jack Bruce or Andy Fraser, but his steady rhythm work is highly laudable nevertheless. And, of course, there's the bright star of guitar player and lead vocalist Rory Gallagher (not to be confused with the wretched Oasis twins).

Rory was always distinguished by the fact that he could make a good use of everything, from his powerful voice to his well-learned guitar licks to even saxophone solos, but never did - and it still worked. What I'm a-meanin' is that, while he sure had a mighty fine voice and was able to kick Jack Bruce's old ass right in the gutter in that respect, he rarely engaged in romantic balladeering or complex blueswailing - instead, he just grunted and snorted. And he had a great guitar-playing talent - sometimes he was soloing like a demon, going off in all directions and easily keeping the energy on the same level as a Steve Howe or a Jimmy Page; but he preferred to play tasty disconnected licks or dirty, sloppy riffs instead, going for the heaviest sound possible, more Hendrix-style than Clapton-style. But in doing so, he created an identity for the whole band, and made damn sure that their blues records really stood out among the thousands of similar efforts by less worthy white boys. And no, I'm not saying that Taste albums are recommended for everybody; if you're a blues-hater, don't even worry. But if, like me, you're looking for something bluesy with a definite edge to it, this might just be your bet - provided that you can find their records.

JINX ***

Year Of Release: 1982

I think Jinx certainly indicated that Rory needed a break - which he did take immediately afterwards, releasing nothing for about half a decade. It's not a bad album (dang, for my money Rory never really made a bad album, what with his conservative and rigorous style), but it just kinda lacks the spark, if you know what I mean. It's somewhat of a cross between his early Seventies and late Seventies period; overall, more mellow and less ass-kicking than the last few albums (and also a kind of a relief for fans who weren't happy seeing Rory metamorphose into the big-metal-riff tear-it-down arena-rock prince), but certainly not an exact return to the acoustic-and-slide-drenched sound of Tattoo and its whereabouts. And by avoiding the extremes, it manages to come off kinda faceless, like a pale shadow of what has been done before.
Not that there aren't any prime numbers here. No Gallagher fan can live without adding 'Jinxed' to his collection; this painful, emotionally acute blues ballad should certainly be counted in at the very top. The thick ethnic percussion layers were a wonderful idea, as they serve to make the overall mood even more somber, but of course, it's the splendid guitar work and the vocals that do the trick. I mean, sometimes... well, I don't know how it happens, but sometimes you get this hundred percent sincere groove going on when everything seems to work and you don't really know why. There's a goddamn thin line between filler and revelation, you know, but the way Rory intones 'I don't care what anybody thinks - this must be some kind of jinx!' is certainly revelation. Now that I think of it, I really can't think of any blues-rock hero that would do those 'power ballads' as convincingly as Rory. Clapton's approach is totally different - usually much subtler and with loads more (occasionally grating) sentimentality; the Allman Brothers were good, but way too 'impersonal' as far as their songwriting went; and Ten Years After really did that stuff very, very rarely. Rory is da man when it comes to expressing his feelings in aggressive ballad form. That's why 'Easy Come Easy Go' is another excellent song on the album, even if it suffers from exaggerated sentimentality in the verses.

There are some top quality rockers as well. 'Double Vision' has the advantage of building upon a classy CCR-like riff, which pulls it out of the mediocrity range. The hilarious 'Devil Made Me Do It' is catchy as hell (although if I'm not mistaken, it's not a Rory original). And then there's 'Loose Talk' which closes the album and is the album's only "experimental" number. Maybe I'm mad, but I thought I heard a sitar out there in the background in the first verse... could it really be so or was that a weirdly processed acoustic sound? And then, while the song begins as a straightforward blues-rocker, it occasionally switches into hot funky mode. Plus, the guitar solos are scorching.

But really, what I'm doing here is trying to put in a good word for a somewhat mediocre and inconsistent record just because Rory was such a nice guy. There's not a single rocker on the record that I don't mildly enjoy while it's on, but then again, Jinx came on the heels of the totally devastating Stage Struck, Rory at his hard rock peak, want it or not, and the overall tone on all of these rockers is milder and more restrained. The album opener, 'Big Guns', might come close to the fury and anger of Stage Struck, but it certainly doesn't top it. The solos are mixed in way too quiet, the guitar tone in the riff is nowhere near as jagged and "rebellious" as before, and, well, by all means it's merely a compromise. And the same goes for almost everything else on here. Besides, the riffs themselves, apart from 'Double Vision', don't go any place special. And the tempos are slower, too. Mid-tempo almost all the way, which really doesn't put the melodies above KISS level - of course, I'll take Rory's worst song over KISS' best any time of day because of the attitude, but see, Jinx does very little to eliminate the rumour of Rory not being a good songwriter at all. I mean, what, 'Hellcat'? THIS is a good song? What would be distinguishable about it? The basic three-chord riff?

Oh well. I guess this must have been some kind of jinx anyway. And besides, your style may be good, but if you're really conservative about the very soul of your melody-writing and your arrangements, how many blues-rock albums can you record before you start mercilessly running out of even minor ideas? Like I said - it was only too well that Rory took a long break after the album.

Link : http://rapidshare.com/files/140325499/Jinx.rar

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