Rory Gallagher and Taste, ‘What’s Going On: Live at the Isle of Wight': DVD Review
In 1970, the Isle of Wight Festival took place to an audience of around 600,000 in the English countryside. The lineup was as diverse as it was loaded with talent, including luminaries like Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Jethro Tull, Ten Years After, Chicago, the Doors, the Who, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, the Moody Blues, Free, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and many more. Also on the bill was the Irish band Taste, which featured a young guitarist named Rory Gallagher.
While Gallagher never became a household name, to his devoted fans ranks right up at there with the all-time best guitar players. What's Going On: Live at the Isle of Wight, a DVD that's also available as a CD or double LP, captures him and his band Taste in all their fiery glory.
Formed in 1966, the band had built a reputation in the U.K. with a pair of studio albums. Neither sold particularly well, but they turned the ears of anyone who did bother to listen. And this was mostly due to Gallagher's fancy fretwork. By 1970, tensions within the group boiled over, as a short documentary that precedes the concert on What's Going On details, and it was already set to break up when an offer to play the festival came up.
But you'd never know that Taste were about to call it a day after watching their performance here. The trio burns in front of the crowd, which numbered more than a half million people. The show was captured by filmmaker Murray Lerner, who had previously shot the landmark Newport Folk Festivals in 1963-65.
Taste's set that day drew from their two albums, and they gave extended workouts to "What's Going On," "Gambling Blues" and "Catfish Blues." The powerhouse rhythm section of bassist Richard McCracken and drummer John Wilson follow Gallagher every step of the way, as the band plays like this is its last hurrah, which it turned out to be (they broke up after this performance). Gallagher would go on to a respected solo career after this, but the rawness of his performance here is jaw-dropping.
The DVD features a great new remaster of both the audio and video. Gallagher fans such as Brian May, the Edge, jazz legend Larry Coryell and fellow Irishman Bob Geldof offer testimonials along the way. In addition, there are a handful of bonus clips featuring Taste's performances on the German TV show Beat Club and three music videos. The CD includes two bonus tracks recorded at the festival but not filmed.
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