Released on 14th May 1972, so 50 years ago today!
I bought it with money from my first summer job. We didn’t have a record shop in our town so I had to hitch-hike 12 miles to Kells, the nearest town with a record shop. I must have done some persuading to get my mother to agree to me hitch-hiking, seeing as I was only 14 years old at the time.
I’d gone there to buy Rod Stewart’s latest album because I really liked the single he had out at that moment, “You Wear It Well”, off his “Never A Dull Moment” album. I still love that album too.
Tom Murray, the shop owner came out from behind the counter and asked me if he could help me. I said I wanted Rod’s album, which he had in stock, and then for some strange reason I turned my head to my left, looked up high on the wall and said – and I’ll take that one too. ‘That one’ being Rory’s “Live in Europe” album. What possessed me to do so? To this day I have no idea; perhaps it was the cover, the beat-up guitar, a guy with long hair. Something about it struck me strongly, even though I didn’t know him.
After I got back home, I commandeered the record player (it was always a fight over who got to use it) and decided to play Rory’s album first. I was curious as to what it was like. The needle dropped on Side 1, I heard someone introduce him and then… my world changed forever! Really, my mind exploded. I’d never heard anything like that before. Bear in mind, back in ’72 we only had RTE radio and they played a steady diet of Céilí music, Irish ballad singers and the odd pop song.
I listened to all of Side 1 in a sort of trance, got up and turned the record over and was hit with “Going To My Hometown”. That was more accessible but I was still on the outside. This was a new world to me, an alien sound. I got all the way to the last note of Bullfrog Blues… and decided to play the complete album all over again.
The key for me getting into the album ended up being the part of “In Your Town” where Rory takes it right down and there’s only guitar playing. It was a sort of magic moment. It really felt like it was inviting me in… and I dove in, head first.
For the following weeks and months, right after school, I put the album on again and again and I think I slowly drove my family crazy! I brought it to every party and insisted it be played. I even brought it to a local disco and asked the DJ to play it. He asked if people could dance to it. I answered – yes, so he put it on. It cleared the floor in about one minute and he took it off 30 seconds after that. That incident still makes me laugh!
The second serious effect this album had on my life was the fact it made clear to me what I wanted to do in the future… travel and play music all over the world. As I’ve written before, that’s a dream that has come true many times over.