DVD Review: Taste – What's Going On: Live At The Isle Of Wight 1970

DVD Review: Taste – What's Going On: Live At The Isle of Wight 1970
Eagle Rock Entertainment
All Access Rating: A

Taste - What's Going On: Live
at the Isle of Wight 1970 2015
The simmering tension had finally boiled over. In a van, on their way to play the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, Irish guitar hero Rory Gallagher and his two bandmates, drummer John Wilson and bassist Richard McCracken, decided that Taste was done. Somehow, they'd just have to smile and muddle through the biggest gig of their lives as if nothing had happened.

Or, they could go out in a blaze of glory, which the bluesy rock 'n' roll outfit did, burning the place to the ground with an electrifying set that won over an apathetic daytime crowd that practically yawned at their introduction. They were so good, in fact, that they decided afterward to carry on, however briefly. Soon, though, Taste would ultimately reach the end of their rope.

The thrilling action was filmed by Academy Award winning Director Murray Lerner, whose spontaneous cinematic instincts, an eye for action and drama and a gutsy appreciation for the raw, combustible energy burning uncontrollably in front of him threw gasoline on an already raging fire. And it serves as the centerpiece of a new DVD from Eagle Rock Entertainment named "What's Going On: Live At The Isle Of Wight 1970," containing all the tracks from the 1971 Polydor LP and a few more, as the trio stomps all over "Sinner Boy" and "Catfish Blues" in riveting fashion. At one point, as Taste is storming through the heavy blues of "Sugar Mama," Gallagher pumps his fist at Wilson, who reacts enthusiastically by pushing harder and more violently. Seeing Gallagher's slide-guitar work in "Gambling Blues" is a revelation, his soulful soloing a mixture of finesse and daring skill that's simply breathtaking. And when they launch into "Same Old Story," Taste's engine roars to life, their muscle and barely harnessed intensity coalescing into a rip-roaring show of strength and unity.

Preceding this tour de force is an unflinching, well-constructed documentary on Taste that doesn't succumb to banal sentimentality, and yet it speaks in awed wonder of their uncanny musical brilliance. From Taste's origins in Cork, Ireland, through management-inspired lineup changes, financial disputes, touring with Blind Faith and that fateful drive to the Isle Of Wight Festival, the tale of Taste is told with warm memories and genuine honesty, reflecting – through insightful interviews with, among others, Queen's Brian May, U2's The Edge, Bob Geldof and Rory's brother Donel, who also served as the band's road manager – on what made the volatile chemistry of Taste work and how Rory and his sublime talent transcended the sectarian unrest of his native land.

Bonus footage of Taste performing three songs on the German TV series "Beat Club" and videos for "I'll Remember," "What's Going On" and "Born On The Wrong Side Of Time" only enhance the value of a nostalgic package augmented by concise, informative liner notes and great photography. One little Taste is all one needs to be hooked on Rory and company forever.
– Peter Lindblad

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