What’s Going On/Taste – Live At The Isle Of Wight – Blu-ray (2015)
Performers: Rory Gallagher – guitar, vocals; John Wilson – drums; Richard McCracken – bass; plus interviews with Bob Geldorf, The Edge, Brian May and Larry Coryell
TrackList: What’s Going On; Sugar Mama; Morning Sun; Gambling Blues; Sinnerboy; Same Old Story; Catfish Blues
Studio: Eagle Rock/Universal Music EVB335159
Director: Murray Lerner
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 96/24, PCM stereo; mono (Beat Club 1970 performance)
Video: 1.78:1 for 16:9 1080i HD color, black & white (film) 4.3 (concert performance)
Length: 163 minutes
Extras: Beat Club 1970 performances of The Day Was Any Longer; It Happened Before, It’ll Happen Again; Morning Sun P3 Music Promo Videos: I’ll Remember, What’s Going On, Been On The Wrong Side Of Time
Rating: Audio:**** Video: *** Overall:****
In the annals of rock history, there was never a guitarist as appreciated or under-appreciated as Rory Gallagher. A veteran of the Cork music scene in his native Ireland, Gallagher came to prominence in the late sixties with his power trio Taste. In the seventies, he embarked on a prolific solo career. His blues-based music was authentic and he developed a cult following. His powerful sound was developed with unique amplifiers (Vox AC30, treble boosters) and modified electric guitar (1961 Stratocaster). Despite being named top guitarist by Melody Maker, major stardom eluded Gallagher. Though he performed into the 80s and early 90s, his lifestyle had disastrous effects. At the age of 47, he passed away.
Eagle Rock has released a Blu-ray of Gallagher and his band Taste from the iconic Isle Of Wight Festival in 1970. This was England’s Woodstock and featured acts like The Who, The Doors, Leonard Cohen, Chicago, Ten Years After, The Moody Blues, Emerson Lake & Palmer and Miles Davis. But a band from Cork, Ireland would make a statement at this prestigious gathering.
The film opens with short biographical narrative. Gallagher grew up in Ireland and like many other Europeans was mesmerized by American blues music. He got a guitar and formed a trio, Taste. Management forced a new rhythm section on the aspiring guitarist and Taste began to emerge on the Irish blues scene. But it was a resident appearance at a London club that elevated their status. The fiery guitarist (with his innovative small VOX AC30 and treble booster) was admired by the rock elite, including Jimi Hendrix. They opened for Blind Faith on the abbreviated U.S. tour. It seemed stardom was imminent. All the group needed was a media push,
The Isle Of Wight was the ultimate U.K. concert venue. In 1970, over 600,000 people attended the five-day event. As Taste goes on, they open with the riveting blues rocker, “What’s Going On”. Gallagher rips into the music with passion and his trademark eyes closed facial expressions. His dazzling speed is impressive. So is his command of blues on cuts like “Sugar Mama” and “Morning Glory”. Gallagher is equally adept at slide on “Gambling Blues”. His powerful vocals back the intensity of the band, especially on “Same Old Story”. Taste was summoned back for an unprecedented three encores. It was their last show.
The video quality (transferred from 16mm film) of the Blu-ray is adequate, considering the vintage performance film. The interviews are more pristine. The audio (defaulted to PCM 2.0 stereo) captures more vibrancy than the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. The fuller, amplified sound showcases the dynamism of a blues rock trio. Bonus extras include rare 1970 numbers from the Beat Blub and promotional videos.