Any input on the book "Rory Gallagher Life and times"?

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Re: New Book about Rory

Postby maapji » 28 Sep 2012, 09:50

My copy has just arrived! :D (also ordered on Ebay).
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Re: New Book about Rory

Postby Tibor77 » 28 Sep 2012, 22:44

Great! What is your first impression?
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Re: New Book about Rory

Postby folkdeejay » 29 Sep 2012, 10:41

Mine also arrived yesterday morning - fast service from ireland to Sweden, and free P&P :-)

My first impressions...
The book is well laid out, nicely printed and there is a logic to the chapters and sequence. I sat down last night and read it pretty much straight through. Obviously written from the heart by a long-time Rory and fan, the book is broadly chronological, from Rory's early days with showbands and taste, through to his legacy.

It is nicely written, with an easy style.

However, I do have some reservations. I felt on reading it (and have looked back this morning to confirm) that the "target market" for this book ( ie Rory's long term fans) will actually learn very little from the book. As a general overview, almost like a long article from a Sunday supplement, the book is great - but I can't recall a single fact/quote that is actually new or enlightening, with the exception that Rory had written and (it is implied in an interview with the author) recorded demo's for a double album of acoustic/electric new material in 92/93, with a view to releasing it in 94-95... sadly not to be. However, no mention is made of this potential legacy release, and I assume therefore no enquiries were put to Donal/Daniel about this. Maybe they were asked and there was no response, but it simply isn't followed up in the book, and a double album of new materials (even in demo form) would be big news for Rory fans.

There is a lengthy section based around an interview with Tony Palmer, and this is excellent. if the rest of the book was like this section, it would be superb. However, the analysis and context that is gained by the author from the Tony Palmer section is largely absent for a lot of the book. There are quite a few places in the book that are padded out with anecdotes and stories that are Rory - related, but didn't directly involve Rory, nor shed new light on hi life/work/legacy etc. No doubt these are included to provide some context and/or background, which is fine, but they came across to me as almost "filler". These side-issues and "friend of a friend" anecdotes are fine, and whilst they do add some depth, they are there instead of, rather than as well as, sections that would perhaps provide some insight on Rory as a person.

Two examples of what i see as "padding" (though there are others). Pages 60-61 are the opening pages of a four page section on the Muddy Waters sessions. There is a lengthy biog of Muddy and his band, and how he influenced Clapton, Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter etc. Of the four pages in this section, maybe 2/3rd of one page relates to Rory's thoughts and contribution to the recording. Similarly, the three page section on Defender is dominated by a two and a half page ramble about an obscure Irish musician failing to get to a Rory rgig in Germany by getting lost - a story that, we learn on the last line, Rory never even heard. It is, in my view, irrelevant - if not to the wider Rory story (I guess it shows the lengths some people went to to see Rory) then certainly it has no bearing on Defender as a piece of work, or anything that Rory did/didn't do at the time. Either way, it is not 3/4 of the story behind Defender.

There is little to engage a "geek" reader either - only a cursory mention of the kit Rory used, nothing about the many bootlegs or recent surge in on-line Rory material. The Taste Mk1 LP ( aka Take it easy baby) is mentioned in passing - but omitted entirely from the discography, odd really, as it appeared in several versions on 'proper' labels, not just bootlegs. No mention of the initial remastering/remixing controversy, and nothing about the 2012 Sony/Legacy series in the discograpghy. There is no DVD/VHS section in the discography either.

However, the book is subtitled "His Life and Times", so in fairness perhaps it is not the place for an "anoraks" overview on Rory stats, nor for a look at his (unique) use of guitar/amp set up, and the reason behind his (also unique/pioneering) re-wiring of the strats elctronics, etc. Given this, where then is the look at Rory the person? There is nothing of substance about his solitary life as a single man, no real detail about his subsequent illness and the impact it had on his later performances. No mention that he chose to live in a hotel rather than his own flat (both in London) for much of his later years.

It may be there is simply nothing to be added that is known outside of Rorys family, or perhaps the author simply didn't want to cover these less happy times in depth, but I for one feel I just read a skim through Rory's life that is largely collated from info that is (virtually) all well known, well documented and easy to find on-line for any half interested fan - albeit this book gathers together the key points of a long and illustrious career in a well illustrated, well written volume, and in a couple of areas the author has added some insight and interview material that is uniquely his.

In summary, worth buying, and well written by someone who knew and liked Rory - but I don't think "His life and Times" is the correct strapline. This would be a great book for anyone new to Rory - but would they buy it?
Last edited by folkdeejay on 29 Sep 2012, 14:24, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New Book about Rory

Postby maapji » 29 Sep 2012, 14:00

folkdeejay, you've already summed it up nicely, adding some interesting food for thought!

I for one would recommend this book without any hesitation. While it lacks new information for the die-hard Rory-fan, it's still a pleasure to read it (which I largely attribute to the good layout and the great pictures).
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Re: New Book about Rory

Postby Steve86 » 02 Oct 2012, 16:27

Just finished reading Rory Gallagher His Life and Times by Marcus Connaughton. I agree that the main problem with this book is there is very little new here. Most of the events in this book have already been well documented in magazines, other books and documentaries.

It is also very noticeable that despite quoting various authors and newspapers, there is no bibliography here. Much of this book comes from other books and other sources both named and unnamed by the author in this book. Leaving out the bibliography here is either down to laziness or intended to hide the author's use of other sources, primarily books and music magazines. Considering that the author went to the trouble of including a lengthy discography and index, I suspect the reason for omitting the bibliography is the latter.

The photos are one of the best things about this book although a few have been published before in magazines, newspapers and other books.

I wouldn't say that the book is particularly well written. I found it at times hard to read. Many of the quotes are extremely long and chunky and this makes it a bit hard to follow who is saying what.

One single quote stretches from the middle of page 72 all the way to the end of page 74. This just seems a bit lazy on the author's part and makes it hard to follow. The author does go off on tangents at times which are of questionnable relevance to Rory's story.

All in all not that bad a book but it should have been better.
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Re: New Book about Rory

Postby RobertaSparrow » 12 Oct 2012, 08:34

I just started a new job 2 weeks ago, so I decided to celebrate by ordering the book. It won't be released here until December, so I ordered the book from Amazon UK less than 2 weeks ago and it arrived in the mail today . . . that was fast! :o Just started reading it, should have it finished before the weekend.So far it's good, nice photos. (read the first few pages and checked out the front and back cover). :D
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Re: New Book about Rory

Postby Leedelta » 12 Oct 2012, 10:12

I finished it last night. I agree with most of the points made above.

To be honest I expected more since I have met the author a few times and hold him in high regard.

I recognised a lot of the source quotes but the personal observations and quotes from people that I knew in Cork are excellent.

I would recommend the book to people who want a good overview of Rory and then they could watch the Ghost Blues or Irish Tour dvds to get a better feel for the man.

Perhaps Donal's memoirs might give us something new.
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Re: New Book about Rory

Postby RobertaSparrow » 16 Oct 2012, 00:57

I finished the book a couple of days ago. Many of the interviews and stories contained within I had already read elsewhere, but I still found it to be an interesting read. The perspective of the author did help me to see things a little differently, to see it a little more from Rory's part of the world. I never really fully appreciated how difficult it was for someone like Rory Gallagher to become so successful on the international stage. His drive to learn and excel at the music he loved, and to master the guitar at such a young age was all the more significant when I consider just how many hurdles he had to overcome to get there. Granted Rory Gallagher was about six years older than I, so my generation came up a bit later, but still, kids who grew up in a place like Los Angeles did not have to look far to hear the variety of music that Rory had to search to find, and likewise musical instruments, including electric guitars were not a rarity either. I cannot recall a school dance in junior high school or high school that did not have live music from neighborhood kids in local bands.

I never went by myself to see Rory Gallagher's band, and although I had heard his music before (I had heard Taste's recordings around town, and back then I associated them with Cream- granted I was young and rather ignorant back then, but there was a definite similarity to the sound coming from that side of the world- different than the prevailing music coming from the West Coast) I heard of Rory's music through friends who were themselves players in local bands. It occurred to me while reading that book, that in L.A., at least as far as I know from personal knowledge, a great many of the kids that went to see him play were themselves aspiring musicians. That in itself is significant- so many of the audience admired and appreciated him as much for his musicianship as anything else. People knew of him more by word-of-mouth than anything, and most of them appreciated him from that unique point of view. My boyfriend at the time gave me two of Rory's albums, Blueprint and Tattoo, and that was enough to whet my curiosity. My favorite part of his show was his acoustic playing. And to see him on stage- well, there's no real way to explain it, but Rory instilled in his audiences an almost sympathetic reaction- he fed off the energy from the audience as we reacted to his extraordinary stage presence, he had a symbiotic effect on his audiences. The book touches on that, and when asked, even Rory couldn't explain what was going on there.

He was such a modest man, the book expands on that as well. It's likely one of the reasons he still hasn't gotten the recognition that he worked so hard to achieve and rightly deserves. He did a great many wonderful things for other people, and it's almost as if he intentionally went out of his way to avoid credit for his achievements. I'd seen Rory perform Could've Had Religion on several occasions, and he always credited it to someone else. Even in YouTube videos, if he commented about the song, it was to give credit for it's authorship to someone else. But there is a passage in the book where Bob Dylan asks him directly if he wrote it, and he admitted that he did. It's a wonderful song- one of his best. (One that my boyfriend at the time liked so much he used to sing it constantly, to the point that I'd tell him to shut up). Yet Rory never publicly claimed it as his own. He instead gave credit to the many American artists who came before him.

Even in Rory's version of All Around Man, he gives full credit for that to Bo Carter. But he completely re-wrote the lyrics, and in so doing, he changed it from a lyrically over-the-top-nearly-pornographic obscure blues song to something that can be played on the radio . . . in other words he changed the song such that it is accessible to a much wider audience, to an audience who would have never heard it in it's original incarnation, yet he took no credit for it. In rewriting All Around Man, he made it as accessible to the masses as Corina Corina. I think he was modest to a fault, and that's all the more reason why he deserves to be recognized for all he did.

I was also very happy to read Rory's take on some of the earlier blues songs he used to sing, such as Pistol Slapper Blues, and Banker's Blues. Rory's wonderful acoustic playing and of course his singing really shine in those, but the lyrics were always a little troubling. Violence against women is all too common in this world. The Connaughton book contained a quote from him that I had not seen before, although it's a quote in the book which is itself attributed to another source:

"The blues can be sexist but that simply reflects a lack of political knowledge at the time most of the songs were written. But when I write a song like 'Continental Op,' although it is a blues song I make sure it is in no way connected to what are worrying questions about sexism in blues lyrics and also violence towards women you find in songs by Big Bill Broonzy and company. As a white European, I have tried to take the songs into areas beyond the 'I am a Little Red Rooster' department. And I feel proud of having at least attempted that . . . I do feel I have advanced the blues in that way, politically." (Rory Gallagher, to Joe Jackson, pp. 157-158)

I enjoyed the book, and clearly it was written with great respect and affection for the man. Still, I look forward to reading Donal Gallagher's book when it arrives. Rory may have been a very private man, but if anyone can shed a little more light on his life and accomplishments, it will be through the eyes of the brother that stayed by his side through all his years.

Rory died so young, but he accomplished more in his brief time on earth than most of us will with our full compliment of decades. That's what I think anyway.
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Re: New Book about Rory

Postby SUBY1974 » 16 Oct 2012, 14:34

Still reading the book. Will share my views soon.Subrata. x
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Re: New Book about Rory

Postby Steve86 » 20 Oct 2012, 15:54

The Marcus Connaughton book seems to be getting bad reviews. Here is one http://www.independent.ie/entertainment ... 57905.html
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