Gallagher and Lyle – Ah, one of my very favourites. They were a Scottish musical duo, comprising singer-songwriters Benny Gallagher and Graham Lyle; they signed for Apple in 1968 and joined up with a couple of other musicians and became part of McGuinness Flint (see M). At Apple they had written songs for Mary Hopkins but were interested in making it on their own. After 2 albums and a successful couple of singles they became a duo in 1972 (the best of years). Their debut was a very quiet, almost folk-song affair. A beautiful gem simply titled Gallagher and Lyle, it has been very hard to find on CD, but I eventually got a Japanese import. What a delight this record is; gentle and lyrical, almost acoustic and soothing words and voices. Takes me right back to the early Seventies when I was discovering new music every week, and this was one of those gems. Best songs; opener ‘Mrs Canatelli’ and ‘closer ‘Desiderata’ – and everything in-between. The record sold poorly but, as was the case in those days, they were allowed to continue slowly building a fan base. They followed this a year later with, if anything, an even quieter album, Willie and The Lapdog. The songs are almost not there sometimes, barely scratching the surface and yet hauntingly beautiful; ‘Among the birks’ and ‘Hotel Constantine’ – there is a yearning in these sad songs that I particularly love. The following year they moved up a gear and produced an album of much catchier and a bit rockier tunes; maybe a change of producer, or they were just writing more upbeat songs but Seeds was a joyful record. The boys seemed to be getting into their stride, reluctant pop-stars that they were. Best songs; I Believe In You’, ‘Layna’ and ‘Shine A Light’ – but really there isn’t a poor song on the record. In fact, I can’t recall a song they might have recorded that I don’t like – a pretty rare achievement. And they kept getting better; 1974’s The Last Cowboy was their best yet, it may even be my favourite of theirs. It kicks off with ‘Keep the Candle Burning’ and doesn’t draw breath until the title track at the end. The addition of brass and orchestra and a full-tilt band on the upbeat numbers brought them more into the soft-rock world. My favourite song though is the lyrical and gentle ‘Mhairu’. But real stardom was now just around the corner. The following year they released their biggest seller Breakaway. Well, it was full of great songs, a couple of hit singles and a warmer more rounded, slightly middle of the road sound. Saying that it really is a triumph of an album. Best songs ‘Heart On My Sleeve’, ‘Stay young’ and my favourite ‘Fifteen Summers’. Suddenly they were on Top of The Pops and famous, and yet somehow I preferred them as quiet folkies….oh well. The following year they released another classic album Love On The Airwaves. This has now become almost impossible to find on CD but I still have my vinyl copy, which might be worth a few bob. Anyway, the album is another great batch of songs – best are ‘Every Little Teardrop’, ‘Never Give Up On Love’ and my favourite ‘The Runaway’. The boys were now having quite regular top twenty hits, but for whatever reason they started to drift more to the middle of the road and lost some of their edge. 1978’s Showdown was noticeably a bit disco, a touch bland; maybe they were just getting tired. But still not such a bad record really I suppose. Best songs; ‘In Your Eyes’ and ‘Heartbreaker’. One more album before they called it a day – 1979’s Lonesome No More. Now I don’t own it on CD, because it is an absolute rarity. Amazon lists it at £1253.00 – can you believe. The tracks are not available on Youtube or Spotify or Amazon Music. I did own it once on LP and have a cassette tape of it somewhere. Anyway, the boys called it a day after that one and settled into early retirement. Benny Gallagher (see just after this post) made a couple of albums and Graham Lyle wrote a few songs for, among others Tina Turner and one record with one of his earlier bandmates McGuiness. (see L). There is of course the obligatory Greatest Hits and a couple of lovely live albums as follows. Heart On My Sleeve – Greatest Hits. No surprises, just a lovely collection of their songs, River Sessions was a few live songs for Cyde Radio, mostly early songs – very nice and mostly acoustic. And I’ve just got Live at De Montfort Hall, a 1977 concert and excellect too.
Benny Gallagher – only 2 albums as a somewhat tentative and reluctant solo performer; On Stage 2006, is a very quiet performance; the songs, many by the duo sound more like demo’s than real songs. Best are ‘How Come’ written for Ronnie Lane (see L) of The Faces (see F), and ‘The Salt Of Her Tears’ which infuriatingly sounds very familiar, though I cannot remember from where. A year later hus one and only solo studio album was At The Edge Of The Wave. – a quiet and subdued record really, gone is that magic spark of creating memorable songs. A sad sort of a coda…still we have the early albums to enjoy.