HardReviews 2
by Martin Popoff

RORY GALLAGHER - Notes From San Francisco

Notes From San Francisco lovingly revives an album's worth of material Rory shelved back in '78/'79, ostensibly because he didn't like the mix, additionally due to too much instrumentation. But I dunno, half these songs are remakes of earlier classics, so it sounds like the idea to make a record from this was fuzzy and, ahem, wayward anyway. What we got instead is '79's Top Priority, which is much more electrocuted and juiced with electric guitar, and quite admired by metal folk 'cos it's (marginally) Rory's heaviest rocking album. Nonetheless, this sounds great, lively, fresh an' fun, with Rory giving us that Strat tone Angus and Jimi both loved from the guy, soloing like mad on on 'Out On The Tiles', and elsewhere fulfilling the untenable reason we love blues guys like this, namely 'cos so many of them are engaging, distinctive singers as well (Billy Gibbons, Gary Moore, Jimi, Dug Pinnick). Killer booklet as well, with classy photos of San Fran, hand-written lyrics, and then there's a second CD, a raw and guitary live set from the day, a perfect complement and second snap of what Rory had been up to at the turn of that decade. So yeah, final note: there's nothing demo or unfinished about this album - what you get is expensive-sounding, fully-fleshed material from the vaults, so tactile it sounds like Rory and the extended band is right there playing it for you, kicking up the dust, turning blues ideas into happy and hard-hitting traditional rock 'n' roll.
Rating 7

GAMMA RAY - Skeletons & Majesties Mini Album

Well, there's more chaos to come, as physical product gives way to bands issuing single songs, electronically, at will, as they make them, the album becoming a construct deemed unnecessary. So our favourite punchy power metal Germans are still old school with this, I suppose, putting together an odds 'n sods EP of seven tracks. The first couple, the Skeletons section, are songs "rarely or never played live," 'Hold Your Ground' opening the show with one of the most memorable displays of pomp and circumstance power metal melody ever achieved, followed by 'Brothers' - both are album tracks from way back. Next is the Majesties section, comprising pointless acoustic versions of 'Send Me A Sign' and 'Rebellions In Dreamland' (this never works, or matters), and then last is Bonus Tracks, key gem being rarity 'Wannabees' (from the 'To The Metal!' 7"), an uncharacteristic Gamma Ray construct, if there is such a thing, followed by an extended 'Brothers' and a karaoke 'Rebellion In Dreamland'. The recording of the thing is really tight and middy, which sorta fits with power metal, but man, after a while, it's hard on the ears, even if I can listen to 'Hold Your Ground' all day long, in a robe with crown, on throne, banging a mace on the floor.
Rating 7

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