The Upshot: Rory Gallagher’s pre-solo fame trio performed at the 1970 festival. The passion is palpable, and whether that was due to the pent up emotion or the feeling that this could have been their swan song, it’s literally a concert for the ages.
BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Rory Gallagher died way too young, but the charismatic Irishman left a legacy of exceptional musicianship and a singular style of the blues. It began in earnest with his three-piece band Taste, and ended with a flurry of solo albums (wisely re-released in the last several years by Eagle Rock) that confirmed his stature as one of the finest guitarists Britain had ever known. Indeed, he was only 18 when he formed the band in 1966, but he quickly won the admiration of such peers as John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix, who, when asked by an interviewer how it felt to be the world greatest guitarist, graciously demurred and suggested that title belonged to Gallagher instead.
Taste were at their peak when they performed in front of 600,000 enthusiastic fans at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970, a gathering that famously also included the Who, Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, the Moody Blues and ELP. The crowd adored this so-called “People’s Band,” refusing to let them leave the stage, even after calling them back for three encores. However, as Garth Cartwright explains in the liner notes that accompany this first official release of their incredible set, the simmering tensions between the members of the band and the band and its record label made the odds against an exceptional show even more daunting. Their van had been broken into the night before, they barely made it to the site on time, and ironically, their manager threatened to cancel their performance when they learned the festival was being filmed without their permission.
Nevertheless, as What’s Going On – Live at the Isle of Wight attests, the band played brilliantly, milking every ounce of energy and exhilaration at their command. The passion is palpable, and whether that was due to the pent up emotion or the feeling that this could have been their swan song, it’s literally a concert for the ages. Sadly, their final tour followed almost immediately. Regardless, the testimonials by such brethren as The Edge, Brian May, Larry Coryell and Bob Geldof included herein attest to their exceptional stature, as does the archival material, a trio of promotional videos and bonus performances from Beat Club concerts recorded the same year. Taken in tandem, it all adds up to a truly Taste-ful tribute that’s long overdue.
- Three tracks from the German TV series Beat Club: (1) If The Day Was Any Longer (2) It’s Happened Before, It’ll Happen Again (3) Morning Sun
- Three conceptual music videos: (1) I ll Remember (2) What’s Going On (3) Born On The Wrong Side Of Time