Rory Gallagher – Notes From San Francisco

Notes From San Francisco features a previously unreleased, decades-shelved 1978 studio album as well as a newly unearthed 1979 live set. Music On Vinyl’s gatefold 3LP edition also features a 36-page booklet plus a download coupon for the Osaka Jam Sessions and bonus tracks.

How does it fare when compared to the digital editions?

The studio effort offers surprising bass strength and punch, competing well with the CD issue. On “Rue The Day,” the LP’s inherent analog filtering provides a more organic presentation, giving the drums that desirable “dead skin” tone. Soundstaging is also more alive on LP, yielding greater presence and depth. Dynamically, the album is not the most exciting on either format, as it lacks the impact that careful studio engineering can provide. Instead, you get more of an authentic live sound (and this is the studio album, mind you).

This collection’s archival nature is made evident by the original master’s distinct unevenness, distinctly revealed on “B Girl,” which sounds far dynamically superior to previous tracks on the same album—and also possesses an open, airy upper midrange. This stark difference, plainly heard on the vinyl version, is not as blatant on the digital edition, confirming the LP’s extra transparency.

Recorded at a higher volume that doesn’t help the dynamics, the live portion of the set showcases an intense sound that struggles to maintain its structure on CD format. Although the mic’ing is a touch eccentric, this is a live album that, on the vinyl version, teems with vibrant energy, passion, and gut-driven rock. Basically, a typically great Rory Gallagher gig, then. — Paul Rigby

Music On Vinyl, 180g 3LP