Before becoming a solo star, Rory Gallagher fronted the blues-rock trio Taste, which experienced reasonable success in the U.K. in the late '60s and early '70s. Taste was molded very much on the model of Cream, adding some folk, pop, and jazz elements to a blues-rock base, and featuring a virtuosic guitarist. They weren't in the same league as Cream, particularly in the songwriting department, and were (like Cream) prone to occasional blues-rock bombast. But they weren't a bad band in their own right, exhibiting a lighter touch than most British blues boom outfits. The focus of Taste was always upon Gallagher. In addition to playing accomplished and versatile lead guitar, he sang in a gentle but convincing fashion, and wrote the band's original material. Much of Taste's repertoire was more restrained and balanced than the territory Gallagher would explore on his '70s outings, which placed more emphasis upon him as guitar hero. Gallagher also played occasional saxophone and harmonica with the group. Gallagher formed the first version of Taste in his native Ireland in 1966, with bassist Eric Kittringham and drummer Norman Damery. In May of 1968, he relocated to London and, still months shy of his 20th birthday, formed a new version of Taste with bassist Charlie McCracken (who had played bass with Spencer Davis, though not at the peak of Davis' hit-making days) and drummer John Wilson (who had been a drummer with Them, likewise not during one of their well-known incarnations). Two studio albums followed in 1969 and 1970, the second of which made the British Top 20. Taste was still virtually unknown in the States when they broke up shortly afterwards, although a couple of live albums were released in the early '70s to keep some product on the shelves. ~ Richie Unterberger
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