Rory Gallagher – Fresh Evidence (1990, 2011 reissue)

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An unexpected valedictory on a gone-too-soon talent, Rory Gallagher’s blues-rocking 1990 release Fresh Evidence reemerges today as part of a sweeping reissue project by Eagle Records that focuses on Gallagher’s late-period work.

It’s tempting to think too much of the record, given that Gallagher later succumbed to liver ailments without ever issuing any other new material. But that would be too forgiving of misses like “Kid Gloves,” a throwaway track focused on paperback crime fiction; or an out-of-place, if well-meaning, tribute to Louisiana folk music like “The King of Zydeco.” The shame of it, really, is that those two tracks open things on Fresh Evidence, giving an awful impression of what ends up going right here.

Gallagher — who first burst onto the scene as a member of the power-blues band Taste, who opened for Cream at its farewell concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 1968 — eventually gathers himself for a few blistering rounds of Delta-by-way-of-Belfast blues on his own “Heaven’s Gate” and then Son House’s “Empire State Express.” Other highlights include a jazzed-up urban blues called “The Loop” and — a cresting point, really — the sweeping, gritty grind of “Slumming Angel,” this album-closing, eyebrow-singeing blast of attitude.

Dead at just 47, Gallagher never got the recognition he deserved, perhaps because of uneven efforts like Fresh Evidence. But there was a reason Gallagher was invited to play on Chess Records’ London Sessions with Muddy Waters, alongside far more famous members of the Rolling Stones, the Beatles and Cream. Patience is rewarded; he had the goods.

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