How the Taste LP Launched Rory Gallagher’s Career
Taste's self-titled debut provided a broader showcase for Rory Gallagher, though the guitarist was already well on his way to becoming a national folk hero among his fellow Irishmen.
Even as a child, Gallagher had known that music was his life’s calling, and thus his professional apprenticeship began at the precocious age of fifteen, when he joined one of Cork’s homegrown dance bands and set about paying his dues. Even then, though, he had his sights on bigger things. By August of ’66, he had formed the first lineup of Taste with the late bassist Eric Kitteringham and drummer Norman Dameryist.
Two years and countless performances later (including long stints in Dublin and Belfast, and a visit to Hamburg’s infamous Reeperbahn), the rhythm section was replaced by bass player Richard McCracken and drummer John Wilson — just in time for Taste’s move to London, where the “power trio” was already well into its golden era. Once there, Taste followed in the footsteps of the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream by packing this eponymous project with a healthy wallop of the blues, a little jazz, and the exciting new developments in Marshall stack-assisted hard rock – but, tellingly, not an ounce of then-fashionable psychedelia.
Taste, which arrived on arrived on April 1, 1969, succeeded on its own terms thanks to stunning heavy rockers like "Blister on the Moon," "Same Old Story," and the timeless "Born on the Wrong Side of Time," as well as a wealth of accomplished blues numbers, both covered (Huddie Ledbetter’s "Leavin’ Blues" and Howlin’ Wolf’s "Sugar Mama") and original ("Hail," which particularly highlights Gallagher’s talents; and "Catfish," where he “out-Gods” Eric Clapton). Before they were done, Taste even found time to visit ‘50s rock via "Dual Carriageway Pain"; and American country music, with an acoustic and slide guitar-infused rendition of Hank Snow’s "I’m Moving On."
After the album’s release, Taste immediately hit the road and even ventured to America in support of Blind Faith. They soon returned to the studio and cut their nearly-as-impressive sophomore album On the Boards, before growing musical and business differences convinced Rory Gallagher to embark on a long and critically acclaimed solo career.
Still, his first sighting alongside the other men in Taste cannot be overlooked, since it stands as Gallagher's first major step toward immortality as perhaps the ultimate working-class guitar hero.