45 Years Ago: Rory Gallagher’s Taste Release ‘On the Boards’
Bleary-eyed rock fans nursing their New Year’s Eve hangovers had at least one enticing reason to drag themselves out of bed and down to the nearest record store on Jan. 1, 1970 — to get their copy of Taste’s brand-new sophomore opus, ‘On the Boards.’
Said fans would have most likely been first turned on to the Irish trio led by guitar phenom Rory Gallagher via their jaw-dropping debut, released on April Fools Day 1969, or possibly by their ensuing gigs across the U.K. and the U.S., where they supported supergroup Blind Faith. But, no matter where they’d first heard Gallagher, bassist Richard ‘Charlie' McCracken and drummer John Wilson, listeners likely realized that a major force in the future of electric guitar was announcing himself, and that, even in an era when power trios were proliferating like a plague, this was one combo worth keeping a close eye on.
‘On the Boards’ certainly did nothing to disabuse them of that notion, requiring less than three minutes to reestablish Taste’s formidable talents via cracking opener 'What's Going On,' with its agile licks, stop-start heavy rock and infectious chorus. The group then reaffirmed their seemingly boundless potential with a slew of eclectic offerings ranging from the blues purism of ‘Railway and a Gun’ to the swinging jazz-tinted psychedelia of ‘It's Happened Before, It'II Happen Again’; from the airy acoustics of ‘If the Day Was Any Longer’ to the astonishingly mature title track’s ominous minimalism (with Gallagher on saxophone!).
The remaining material showed more of the same stunning creative breadth, including the slide guitar frenzy of ‘Eat My Words,’ the Chicago-style boogie blues of 'If I Don't Sing I'll Cry,' the bittersweet folk strains of 'See Here,’ and the renewed electrified crunch of 'I'll Remember' — to say nothing of the catch-all smorgasbord of ‘Morning Sun.’
'On the Boards' ushered in another year of aggressive touring and promotion for Taste, as the hard-working trio hit the concert trail for months on end, culminating in a prestigious appearance at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, alongside the Who, the Doors, Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix. But the relentless schedule and business disagreements between Gallagher and Taste’s management team had increasingly taken a toll, convincing the band leader to officially announce he would be launching his solo career and disbanding the group after a final gig on New Year's Eve, exactly one year after ‘On the Boards’ was unveiled with so much pride and promise.
So as 1971 dawned, the road for Taste was at an end, but for Gallagher it was just beginning -- and while his tragically early demise in 1995 wound up capping a career marked more by intense cult fandom and deep respect from critics and musos than significant album sales, his legend was well-established, with no small thanks to the foundation laid down by Taste’s brief but enduring musical output.
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