Clockwise from top left: Fresh Evidence, BBC Sessions,Wheels Within Wheels and Defender.
The re-releases are the culmination of an extensive catalog preservation project by London-based Eagle Rock Entertainment and the Gallagher family. Rory Gallagher released 11 solo albums over the 25 years before his passing in 1995 at age 47, leaving a legacy of fine recordings and phenomenal guitar work.
1987’s Defender was Gallagher’s tenth album, his third during the 1980s and first on his own Capo label. It features a dozen blistering original songs, including fan favorites “Loanshark Blues” and “Continental Op.” It features a core lineup of Gallagher, longtime bassist Gerry McAvoy and relatively new drummer Brendan O’Neill (who made his studio debut with Gallagher on 1982 ninth album Jinx), with additional flourishes from pianists Lou Martin and Bob Andrews, keyboardist John Cooke and harmonica player Mark Feltham.
Fresh Evidence (1990) was the 11th and final studio album Gallagher recorded. A tour-de-force, it showed Gallagher, backed by the Defender lineup, skillfully traveling diverse stylistic avenues—such as zydeco, swamp rock, jump blues and boogie—while remaining true to his original hard-rock roots.
After Gallagher’s death in 1995, the first posthumous release was 1999’s BBC Sessions, which consisted of 22 songs over one live disc and one studio disc. It features covers of Muddy Waters’ “Garbage Man” and Chuck Willis’ “Feel So Bad,” and Gallagher had said that he did the BBC show in honor of all the years he spent glued to the radio while growing up in Ireland.
Gallagher’s brother, Donal, compiled Wheels Within Wheels in 2003. Donal Gallagher knew that an all-acoustic album of traditional blues, bluegrass and Irish folk was something his brother had wanted to do but never got to before his passing. Donal Gallagher assembled a collection of “lost” tracks and outtakes—originals and covers—recorded from 1974 to 1994 and crafted it into Wheels Within Wheels. Notably, the album features a number of guests, including Martin Carthy, Bert Jansch, Lonnie Donegan, Bela Fleck and the Dubliners.