Saturday, October 3, 2015

Rory Gallagher - 1976 [1991] "Calling Card"

Calling Card is the sixth studio release by Irish singer/guitarist Rory Gallagher. A 1976 release, it was his second of four albums released on Chrysalis Records in the 1970s. Deep Purple/Rainbow bass guitarist Roger Glover co-produced with Gallagher: it was the first time that Gallagher worked with a "name" producer and the only successful such collaboration. It was also the last album Gallagher would do with Rod de'Ath (drums) and Lou Martin (keyboards). After Calling Card Gallagher retained only his long-time bass guitarist Gerry McAvoy and hired Ted McKenna on drums. This revised power trio was Gallagher's line up for the next five years, when Brendan O'Neil took the sticks.
The sessions for the album began at Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany, in the summer of 1976. Glover came on board as co-producer after having met Gallagher when the latter opened for Deep Purple on an American tour. The choice of Glover signified a conscious attempt by Gallagher to try new directions from the hard rock he was best known for. Calling Card is one of his most diverse albums. It also reflects the synergy that the band had developed after years of playing together. As producer Roger Glover commented “they all seemed very dedicated to Rory, there was an allegiance, born of years of smoky clubs and endless journeys”. This was the fifth and last release featuring this line-up.

Gallagher's second album for Chrysalis -- and last with his longstanding trio of Lou Martin (keyboards), Rod De'Ath (drums) and Gerry McAvoy (bass) -- was a milestone in his career. Although Calling Card was produced by Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover and not surprisingly contained some of his most powerfully driving rockers, tracks like the acoustic "Barley & Grape Rag" and the jazzy, soulful, finger snapping title cut -- a perennial concert favorite -- found the Irish rocker not only exploring other musical paths, but also caught him on one of his most consistent songwriting streaks ever. Even "Do You Read Me," the muscular opening track, is a remarkably stripped-down affair that adds subtle synths to the rugged blues rock that was Gallagher's claim to fame. While "Moonchild," "Country Mile," and "Secret Agent" displayed catchy hooks, engaging riffs, and raging guitar work (the latter adds a touch of Deep Purple's Jon Lord-styled organ to the proceedings), it's the elegant ballad "I'll Admit You're Gone" that shifts the guitarist into calmer waters and proves his melodic talent was just as cutting on quieter tunes. And it's a crime that the gorgeous "Edged in Blue," certainly one of the artist's saddest and most beautiful pop melodies, was overlooked in his catalog. The 1999 reissue sports track-by-track and first person liner notes from Gallagher's brother Donal, crisp remastered sound, and two additional songs not included on previous versions, one of which, "Public Enemy (B-Girl Version)," later appeared on the Photo-Finish album in an inferior performance to this. Arguably Rory Gallagher's finest studio effort, it was among his best and most varied batch of songs, and it is a perfect place for the curious to start their collection as well as an essential disc showing Gallagher at the peak of his powers.

Rory Gallagher's "Calling Card" was never a huge commercial success and it will probably never make a top 100 albums list, but those who are lucky enough to know Rory's work are aware that this is perhaps the greatest album ever recorded.
First off, I can't overemphasize the incredible musicianship this album offers. Rory Gallagher was one of the most amazing guitar players who ever lived. Give him shred, blues, jazz, folk, rockabilly, he could play it and any given subgenre flawlessly. Also, he was a tasteful player. No "excess" noodling and repetitive A minor runs here. "Calling Card" also features the stunning Lou Martin on piano, Gerry McAvory on bass (great chemistry between he and Rory) and the enormously talented Rod de'Arth on drums.
There's no shortage of good rockin' tunes on "Calling Card". Most notably, "Country Mile", "Jackknife Beat", and the almost Deep Purple-esque "Moonchild".
But there's something for everybody, including the jazz/blues fusion title track, the melancholy acoustic number "I'll Admit You're Gone", the folk jam "Barley and Grape Rag", and arguably the best track, "Edged In Blue" (which might have been a hit for Rory had he decided to release singles).
I urge anybody to give "Calling Card" a listen. Without a doubt, you'll be hooked.

Track Listings

1. Do You Read Me
2. Country Mile
3. Moonchild
4. Calling Card
5. I'll Admit You're Gone
6. Secret Agent
7. Jack Knife Beat
8. Edged In Blue
9. Barley & Grape Rag


Rory Gallagher
    Guitar, Vocals, & Harmonica
Gerry McAvoy
Lou Martin
Rod De’Ath
    Drums & Percussion



  2. Thank you very much for this one (and your great blob as well)!