Rory Gallagher
Top Priority


4.5
superb

Review

by JamieTwort CONTRIBUTOR (29 Reviews)
August 18th, 2011 | 48 replies


Release Date: 1979 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Top Priority proves that Rory Gallagher wasn't just an incredible guitarist but also a superb song writer.

The late 1970’s was an interesting if somewhat turbulent period for the blues-rock scene. The ‘original’ Whitesnake had just emerged from the ashes of Deep Purple only to be told by their record label that they weren’t sure if there was even a market for a "hard-rocking blues band”. Guitarist Gary Moore was becoming further and further detached from his blues roots and would almost abandon them completely throughout the next decade. And the few remaining bands to come out of the so-called ‘British blues boom’ were either attempting to re-invent themselves or were on the cusp of breaking up.

However, one blues-rock musician, namely Rory Gallagher, was enjoying arguably the most successful period of his career. With the success of his 1978 album, Photo Finish, his current record label, Chrysalis, had promised to make the guitarist’s next album their “top priority”, hence the album’s title. The album was released less than a year after Photo Finish, which given his busy touring schedule, was quite remarkable considering the quality of the music on offer.

The tone of the album is set right from the off with the opening riff of the heavy rocker, Follow Me, which with it’s hook-laden chorus and powerful solo, harks back to Derek and the Dominos era Clapton except with a harder edge to it. Following track, Philby is another rocker and is one of Gallagher’s catchiest compositions and has since become a favourite among fans. The song is notable for featuring a rare 60’s Coral electric sitar, which Gallagher hired from Pete Townshend. The instrument gives the song a certain eastern flavour and shows that the guitarist was still willing to try different things more than a decade into his career. Songs like Keychain and Off The Handle have a more pure blues sound than is heard on the rest of the album but they still maintain that hard rock edge due to Rory’s energetic vocals and the intensity of his guitar playing.

One thing that Top Priority lacks is diversity, there are no acoustic-based numbers nor are there any lengthy slow-blues songs like Fuel to the Fire from Gallagher’s previous album, Photo Finish. The album is primarily made up of average length heavy blues-rock tracks, each of which show the singer/guitarist’s talent in the song writing department as well as his brilliant musicianship. The quality of the songs on Top Priority combined with the album’s consistency (there’s not one track that could be considered filler) more than make up for the lack of variation in style.

One of the album’s most memorable songs is the brilliant southern rocker, Bad Penny, which soon became a live favourite and is considered by fans as one of Rory’s finest songs. It’s songs like this that make Top Priority such an enjoyable listen, not only will it leave you in awe of his technical ability as a guitar player but it also shows just how good a song writer he was. Overall Top Priority is easily one of Rory Gallagher’s best albums and for someone looking to explore his back catalogue it should indeed be a ‘top priority’.



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user ratings (26)
Chart.
4.2
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
August 18th 2011


21412 Comments


As always comments and constructive criticism would be greatly appreciated.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
August 18th 2011


6276 Comments


I fuckin' love this guy, i have destroyed my physical copies of Calling Card and Blueprint from multiple listens...

will read later.



Edit: Read it, good review, pos.

Digging: Varathron - Untrodden Corridors of Hades

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
August 18th 2011


21412 Comments


Thanks Voivod.

omnipanzer
August 18th 2011


21644 Comments


Nice read JT, POS

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
August 18th 2011


21412 Comments


Thanks omni.

omnipanzer
August 18th 2011


21644 Comments


If I get through that new War on Drugs I'll see if I can't find this later today. I have Stage struck so I am familiar with 4 of these tracks (1, 3, 4 and 6).

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
August 18th 2011


21412 Comments


I still need to hear Stage Struck.

omnipanzer
August 18th 2011


21644 Comments


It's not as good as Irish Tour '74 but you knew that...

iFghtffyrdmns
August 18th 2011


7047 Comments


As I was reading that second paragraph I was waiting for the "but his record label rushed the effort and it fucking blew, fuck the music industry line" but it never came. I guess maybe what I'm trying to say is that it's good to see pressure from a label having a non-negative impact, for once?

Fantastic review though, clear and concise indeed. Way to go JT

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
August 18th 2011


6276 Comments


Sputnik needs more Rory Gallagher.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
August 18th 2011


21412 Comments


@iFightffyrdmns:

Thanks man

Yeah things definitely worked out well with the record label on this occasion.

rockandmetaljunkie
August 18th 2011


3700 Comments


"Sputnik needs more Rory Gallagher."
Unfortunately Sputnik gives attention only to untalented artists.

Good review as always Jamie.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
August 18th 2011


21412 Comments


^Thanks dude.

Sputnik does indeed need more Rory Gallagher.

LepreCon
August 18th 2011


4150 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

LepreCon approves of this review so much that LepreCon refers to himself in the third person.

Pos'd

LepreCon
August 18th 2011


4150 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

LepreCon approves of this review so much that LepreCon refers to himself in the third person.

Pos'd

omnipanzer
August 18th 2011


21644 Comments


^ lol in duplicate even.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
August 18th 2011


21412 Comments


Haha thanks LepreCon.

InFiction
August 19th 2011


3704 Comments


There's a dude in my class called Rory Gallagher. Cool story bro.

Digging: Ne Obliviscaris - Citadel

LepreCon
August 19th 2011


4150 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Ha just saw the double post now, woops! Wish I could have pos'd twice as well

Nagrarok
August 19th 2011


8292 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Very nice Jamie, I haven't heard any of his studio work yet but man does Irish Tour rock.



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