JOE O’DONNELL’S epic progressive rock album, Gaodhal’s Vision was originally released in 1977 to both critical and commercial success.
Featuring Donegal’s Rory Gallagher, the concept album was O’Donnell’s first and helped launch his international musical career.
Over 40 years later, the album has been completely re-mastered, extended and features previously unreleased material from fellow experimental musician, the late guitarist Rory Gallagher.
Talking to The Irish Post, O’Donnell explains why, given the albums original success, he wanted to revisit and re-master now.
“When we recorded the original album, there were a number of additional tracks that were not used.
“This was because of the limited time space available, which I recall was about 20 minutes on each side of the vinyl”.
A lot of the work was experimental, with the constraints of the vinyl, they did not make the album.
He explained: “There were other things like background noise that were left; although these added to the original at the time, listening to the tapes and with the progress of time, I felt that the recording could now be presented in its entirety.
“When we mixed [the track] The Battle and Retreat, we realised that the sound engineer had made a mistake and used a second-hand tape which ended up shredding carbon onto the tape, with only two tapes made of this track, this was addressed.”
The original album was recorded at Decca’s Tollington Park Studios on a canal barge moored on the River Thames ,which was owned by producer and musician Tom Newman who also produced the recordings for Mike Oldfields’s Tubular Bells.
All the orchestral, drums and backing tracks were recorded at Decca with the overdubs done at the canal barge which contained a 16-track studio.
“Starting at the beginning of summer”, as a relatively inexperienced recording artist, “it was a great experience,” O’Donnell says.
“I did not drive at the time and as part of the deal that I had with Decca, they arranged for a taxi to pick me up every morning at 9am and drop me off in the evening.
“Some days it was a stretch limo that arrived to pick me up, because this is all they had available.”
With O’Donnell working on his own at the time, he did not have a regular band.
To put the album together he brought in musicians that he had previously worked with.
“I used to jam with Rory [Gallagher] at the marquee in London.
“I rang him up and asked if he would do it and he said yeah.
“Rory turned up at the studio with Tom Driscoll, who was his main man, roadie and best friend, along with his famous Strat, [a 1961 Fender Stratocaster] his famous Martin acoustic, a small amp and a crate of Guinness.
“Rory would ask me what I wanted him to do, I would put up the backing track and simply ask him to play.”
As part of the process of digging through the original tapes, O’Donnell has found a lot more of Rory’s work that was left out of the original album.
Having expanded the tracks and album has allowed for more of Rory’s contribution to be brought back in.
O’Donnell has a new band called Shkayla, which he has been with for some time.
Talking about the band's contribution to the re-mastered album he explains: “The new band is great, what they have managed to achieve with what they were presented with is really fantastic, I could not be happier.”
In order to extend the original tracks, the members of Shkayla had to first learn the originals, some of which was experimental and improvised in the studio all those years ago.
The re-mastering process has allowed the tracks to be both extended but also added to, with double bass being added to the orchestral originals.
The new album, Gaels Vision 40th Anniversary Edition, contains all of the original concept album, plus the tracks that were left out first-time round.
Gael's Vision was officially released on October 26 and is available to purchase here.