Live in Europe is the third album by Irish blues guitarist Rory Gallagher, released in 1972. It is a series of live recordings made by Gallagher during his European tour. Unusual for a live album it contains only two previously released songs (“Laundromat” and “In Your Town”). All the other songs are either new Gallagher songs or Gallagher’s interpretation of traditional blues songs.
Live in Europe was released at the end of the British “blues boom” that began in the 1960s. Sparked by bands such as the Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, and Cream fans and musicians were fascinated by authentic Chicago blues artists such as Muddy Waters. Gallagher had an extensive knowledge of this kind of music. Although he tended to play down arguments about what was “pure” blues. In an interview at the time he said:
“If there was one fault with the boom in the 1960s, it was that it was very straight-faced and very pontificatory, or whatever the word is. It used to annoy me that there was an attitude of ‘Thou shalt not play the blues unless you know who played second acoustic guitar behind Sonny Boy Williamson the first on the B-side of whatever.’ That kind of thing gets music nowhere, it’s like collecting stamps. I mean, I buy books on the blues and I check out the B-sides and I know who plays on what records and that’s fine. But then you’ve got to open that up to the rest of the people. Because that kind of snobbery defeats the purpose; it kills the music.”
Rather than live versions of his most popular songs there are only two songs on the album that were previously recorded by Gallagher in the studio, “Laundromat” from his first album and “In Your Town” from his Deuce album. All the other songs are Gallagher’s versions of classic blues songs. The album starts with what was to become a signature song for Gallagher, Junior Wells’ “Messin’ With the Kid”. The song “I Could’ve Had Religion” was Gallagher’s salute to what he called the “redemption style blues” of the Robert Wilkins and Gary Davis. After hearing the song on this album Bob Dylan expressed interest in recording it and assumed it was a traditional blues number rather than an original song by Gallagher.
Blind Boy Fuller’s “Pistol Slapper Blues” is next. Gallagher then shows his versatility, swapping his Stratocaster for a mandolin and performing the song “Going to My Home Town” with the audience stomping their feet and cheering in response as Gallagher sings “do you want to go?”. The finale is the straight ahead hard rocking “Bullfrog Blues” written by William Harris. Gallagher switches back to the electric guitar and the full band and gives bassist Gerry McAvoy and drummer Wilgar Campbell, a chance to solo. With the CD release two additional blues songs were added: “What in the World” and “Hoodoo Man”.
Most critics agree that Live in Europe is one of Gallagher’s finest albums. It was his highest charting album to date reaching 101 in the Billboard 200 for 1972. The album was his first major commercial success and provided his first solo top ten album. It won him his first Gold Disc. In the same year of 1972 he was Melody Maker’s Guitarist/Musician of the Year, winning out over Eric Clapton.
The live album Live in Europe/Stage Struck captures Rory Gallagher at his finest, as he tears his way through many of his very best songs. Though the performance quality is a little uneven, there are gems scattered throughout the record, including smoking versions of “Messin’ with the Kid” and “Laundromat.” (by Thom Owens)
Wilgar Campbell (drums)
Rory Gallagher (guitar, harmonica, mandolin, vocals)
Gerry McAvoy (bass)
01. Messin’ With The Kid (Wells) 6.25
02. Laundromat (Gallagher) 5.12
03. I Could’ve Had Religion (Traditional) 8.35
04. Pistol Slapper Blues (Fuller) 2.54
05. Going To My Hometown (Traditional) 5.46
06. In Your Town (Gallagher) 10.03
07. Bullfrog Blues (Traditional) 6.47
08. What In The World (Traditional) 7.40
09. Hoodoo Man (Traditional) 6.02