Igniting the flame
Rory Gallagher's second solo offering, Deuce, is arguably the studio album that best reflects the Irish guitarist's ferocity in his preferred medium, live. Deuce also represents the peak of his ‘power trio career’, surpassing any Taste album and narrowly edging out his remarkable debut, Rory Gallagher, released just six months prior to this marvel.
Gallagher was clear that it was on stage that he expressed himself best, so when he set about producing his second solo album he decided to put the recording sessions after live performances, to harness the energy of the live shows and leave the production skeletal, with just vocals, bass, drums and guitar. Of course, Gallagher's guitar wasn't just anything, his worn '61 Stratocaster was capable of unleashing electrical storms in which several people seemed to be playing.
Take the opening track, Used To Be, for example, where the guitar leads the way until his R&B-like vocals come in. It's a devastating start on his unbridled guitar, and indicates that we are in the presence of a true master. But whoever thinks of Gallagher only as a marvellous guitarist is also missing out on the composer capable of such delights as I'm Not Awake Yet, in which touches of British folk can be appreciated. Moreover, his mastery of the acoustic is similar to that of the electric and he is capable of embellishing the song with a beautiful and expressive solo.
The acoustic blues number Don't Know Where I'm Going reveals Gallagher's excellent sense of humour; sounding somewhere between Ronnie Lane and Steve Marriott. In Your Town and Should've Learnt My Lesson successfully approach his beloved blues rock, sounding gritty and direct. While There's A Light offers another taste of his more melodic and sensitive side, with another guitar solo that is not so much a display of technique as a song within a song. The album reaches its peak at the close, with Crest Of A Wave, a song that features fantastic bass playing by the indispensable Gerry McAvoy, and some incredible guitar work by our protagonist, again shining with the slide, and achieving a cutting, raw and aggressive sound.
Deuce, released on 28 November 1971, made it clear that Rory Gallagher was inaugurating the imperial phase of his career, with a raw and gritty sound that would be reflected in his mythical live shows, such as the outstanding Live In Europe that arrived the following year. The flame had been lit and Rory was crowned as one of the greats.