Strange Music/BMG - 2003 - 52 minutes

With The White Stripes, The Kills and all manner of blues-tinged rock bands invading the charts, the timing could not be better for a posthumous release from Ireland's king of the blues guitar, Rory Gallagher.

Gathered together by his brother, Donal, 'Wheels Within Wheels' showcases the guitar hero in some of his quieter moments, using various discoveries from Gallagher's copious archive of studio sessions, accumulated in the course of a recording career that spanned four decades.

It's a mellow, emotional collection displaying Gallagher's enthusiasm for folk music and confirming that the music world lost a legend when Rory died an untimely death from liver failure at the age of 46.

Though it is broadly a folk collection, 'Wheels Within Wheels' contains a wide range of musical styles. The title track is a pop ballad in the style of a late-period Beatles number, and shares the slightly over-sweet quality of a Paul McCartney composition. 'Flight To Paradise' is a virtuoso acoustic instrumental where the master's talent is amply displayed, while 'As The Crow Flies' is Southern blues at its finest.

It wasn't just the folk sounds of the United States that influenced Gallagher. On 'Wheels With Wheels' he interprets 'She Moves Through The Fair' and he collaborates with the Dubliners on 'Barley & Grape Rag', a track from his 1976 album 'Calling Card'.

A trio of scorching jams with Bela Fleck recorded at the Montreux Jazz Festival rounds off a magical collection from an artist whose presence is still influential over a new generation of folk-rock guitarists.

Luke McManus

Tracklisting: Wheels Within Wheels - Flight to Paradise - As the Crow Flies - Lonesome Highway - Bratacha Dubha - She Moved Thro' the Fair/Ann Cran Ull - Barley and Grape Rag / Ronnie Drew - The Cuckoo - Amazing Grace - Walkin' Blues - Blue Moon of Kentucky / Mark Feltham - Deep Elm Blues - Goin' to My Hometown / Ted McKenna - Lonesome Highway Refraining