Taste was an Irish, blues-based rock power trio formed in 1966 in Cork, fronted by teenage prodigy Rory Gallagher (vocals/guitar) with Eric Kitteringham (bass) and Norman Damery (drums). The group played in Hamburg and Ireland, but the mix didn't work out musically, so Gallagher rebooted the band in 1968 with Richard McCracken (bass) and John Wilson (drums). It was a better fit, and after relocating to London, the band scored sweet opening slots on both Cream's farewell shows and Blind Faith's only road jaunt. Taste's first record, Taste
, was released in 1969.
The band were popular on UK stages - where much of the audience attention focused, not surprisingly, on Gallagher - and Taste's follow-up, On the Boards, came out in 1970, they same year the band played the important Isle of Wight Festival and were called back for several encores. But in an era of heavy and loud power trios (Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, Mountain, Blue Cheer), Taste's somewhat softer material ("Hail," "If the Day Was Any Longer") skewed more blues than rock ("Leavin' Blues," "Catfish," "Railway and Gun") seemed weaker by comparison, and their original songs often just weren't up to snuff.
By 1970, this Taste had lost its flavor, though two live albums (Live Taste
, Live at the Isle of Wight
) followed. A few years later, In the Beginning
collected tracks and demos featuring the original 1966 trio.
Why Should I Care?
Primarily because Taste was training ground for Gallagher's solo career as an underappreciated blues-rock giant. "Sinner Boy" served as a slide-guitar showcase for Gallagher. And when pushed, Taste could break out with some heavy boogie songs and chugging rockers ("Blister on the Moon," "Same Old Story," "Eat My Words," "I Feel So Good") as well as songs that touched on jazz ("It's Happened Before, It'll Happen Again") and an unlikely cover of Hank Snow's country classic "I'm Movin' On."
Gallagher was a very prolific recording and touring artist in the '70s, but much less so in the '80s. And though he was a cult favorite, he never quite broke through in the U.S. He died in 1995 at the age of 47 due to complications after liver transplant surgery, no doubt aggravated by a healthy appetite for drink.
In 2006, McCracken and Wilson announced that Taste would reform, with Sam Davidson handling guitars and vocals on both older and new material. Today, Wilson and Davidson perform occasional dates as Taste.
The Best of Taste
(2000) (single CD anthology)