*** THIS REVIEW IS FOR THE 2012 CD REISSUE ***
"Calling Card" is one of five new 2012 CD, Download and Vinyl reissues covering Rory Gallagher's 'studio' album period at Chrysalis Records between 1975 and 1979. His Polydor Label years (1971 to 1974) were released in full in January 2012 (see list below). The next set of studio and live album reissues are due in early 2013 - all supervised by Donal Gallagher - his brother, tour manager and keeper of the flame.
So what's different? In a nutshell - cheaper price, restored artwork with upgraded packaging and 2012 remastering from the original tapes. Here are the finite details...
Released 24 September 2012 in the UK (9 October 2012 in the USA) - "Calling Card" is on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88725461472 (Barcode 887254614722) and comes in a card digipak rather than a jewel case with one Previously Unreleased Bonus Track (50:45 minutes total playing time).
1. Do You Read Me
2. Country Mile
4. Calling Card
5. I’ll Admit You’re Gone
6. Secret Agent [Side 2]
7. Jack-Knife Beat
8. Edged In Blue
9. Barley & Grape Rag
The original vinyl album was released August 1976 in the UK and USA on Chrysalis CHR 1124 (it charted at number 32 in the UK and 163 in the States). It was co-produced with ROGER GLOVER of DEEP PURPLE and was Rory's 2nd studio LP (after 1975's "Against The Grain") for the British label Chrysalis Records.
10. Where Was I Going To? [Previously Unreleased]
When "Calling Card" was first re-issued on CD by Da Capo in August 1998 - the tapes were remixed and remastered by Tony Arnold - giving it a sound some found a little shrill. That first reissue also altered the original artwork in a not so complimentary way.
This time the original tapes have been returned to by ANDY PEARCE and MATT WORTHAM and remastered as 'untampered' versions in August 2012 at Wired Masters Studios in London - and like the sonic blast of "Against The Grain" that went before it in 1975 - they've done a fantastic job. Right from the opening thump of drums on "Do You Read Me" - the sound is full of power and wonderful clarity - and stays like that all the way to the end...
There is however an anomaly in the 'bonus track' situation. The original 1998 CD offered two - a pair of previously unreleased cuts called "Rue The Day" and "Public Enemy (B-Girl Version)". 'Neither' appears on this new 2012 version - instead in their place is a 'new' previously unreleased track called "Where Was I Going To?" - a studio outtake from the original sessions. With regard to the two that are now MIA - Donal Gallagher's original liner notes explained something of their origins - "Public Enemy (B-Girl Version)" was an early take with different lyrics of "Public Enemy No.1" which finally showed up on the "Top Priority" album in 1979 - while "Rue The Day" was a rocking outtake - albeit crudely recorded. Sloppily the new liner notes don't tell us jack about the new song "Where Was I Going To?" - but it is good (extremely personal words for Rory actually) and a worthy addition. The point of course is - don't ditch that old 1998 CD just yet because it appears that for now - those two bonuses are 'exclusive' to that reissue...
The dreadfully garish altered artwork that blighted the 1998 reissue has thankfully been replaced with a repro of the original album cover (in fact all 5 of the gatefold digipaks are gorgeous to look at). The old foldout 3-way inlay is replaced in 2012 by a 12-page booklet. But as well as new colour photos - there's two new inclusions - a review of the album from England's Melody Maker magazine in October 1976 and a reminiscence of Rory written by producer and friend Roger Glover in October 1995. Both are nice additions and poignant too... The CD itself is a picture disc and priced at roughly a fiver sterling - this is a classy little reissue for not a lot of wonga.
The album featured the line-up that had been with him since "Blueprint" in 1973 - GERRY McAVOY on Bass, LOU MARTIN on Keyboards and ROD De'ATH on Drums. Rory covered everything else - Vocals, Guitars and Harmonica.
The 9-tracks are all Rory Gallagher originals (as is the new bonus track) and "Calling Card" is probably his more commercially accessible record. It opens with the brilliantly funky-rock of "Do You Read Me" with its choppy guitar riff and driving drum beat (so huge now). It continues with a double-whammy of speedy rockers "Country Mile" and "Moonchild" - both of which slayed the crowds in his live shows of the time. But then comes probably my all-time fave Rory track - the fabulous bass and guitar blues of "Calling Card" (lyrics from it title this review). It's a nugget I've plopped onto many a 70's FEST CD compilation (always brings the punters to the counter asking after it). The clarity on it is fantastic - Lou Martin's great piano-playing slinkily complimenting throughout. The largely acoustic "I'll Admit You're Gone" is a genuine surprise - containing what has to be some of his most personal and painful lyrics - it's not something you expect of him - yet it is affecting. The overdubbed guitars are gorgeous too.
It continues with two more fan favourites - the boogie of "Secret Agent" and the wonderful seven-minute choppy chug of "Jack-Knife Beat" - and man do they sound good. And once again - just when you think you have him pigeonholed - he hits you with the jaunty yet hurting "Edged In Blue" (which Chris Wright of Chrysalis wanted to be a single). The album finishes in "Pistol Slapper Blues" ragtime style with a National Steel guitar track called "Barley & Grape Rag". Great stuff...
For me 1975's "Against The Grain" was the first 'studio' album to capture the sheer guitar-blast of Rory Gallagher 'live'. 1976's "Calling Card" only cemented that new freshness - but in a classier way. In some respects "Calling Card" is a bit more subdued that its 'souped-up' predecessor but is more accomplished somehow - and is still one of my favourites. In fact for me this and "Against The Grain" are up there as 2012 CD reissues of the year.
Like most Irishmen, I can't be rational about Rory Gallagher. I saw him and his band as a teenager live in Dublin in the early Seventies and the experience was mind-blowing (I'm actually in the audience at Dublin on Irish Tour '74). I then bought every album he ever put out after that and always looked forward to hearing where his flying fingers would take me next.
Rory was sadly lost to us in 1995 through liver failure - and it still hurts to think that this most unassuming and brilliant of guitar heroes is gone. God bless you mate - we miss you.
Whole-heartedly recommended...as are all the titles in this wicked little reissue series.
PS: the titles in this 2011/2012 CD, Download and LP reissue series so far are:
1. "Rory Gallagher" (originally UK released in May 1971) - REVIEWED
2. "Deuce" (November 1971) - REVIEWED
3. "Live! In Europe" (May 1972)
4. "Blueprint" (February 1973)
5. "Tattoo" (November 1973) - REVIEWED
6. "Irish Tour '74" (July 1974) [2LP set on 1CD - Sides 1 to 3 are Live - Side 4 is Studio Jams]
7. "Against The Grain" (October 1975) - REVIEWED
8. "Calling Card" (August 1976) - REVIEWED
9. "Photo-Finish" (October 1978) - REVIEWED
10. "Top Priority" (September 1979) - REVIEWED
11. "Jinx" (April 1982) - REVIEWED
1 to 6 released January 2012 on CD and Download. 180-gram vinyl versions of each were also made available 27 February 2012 on the "Music On Vinyl" Label
7 to 11 released September 2012 on CD and Download. Limited Edition 180-gram vinyl versions of each will be made available 22 October 2012 on the "Music On Vinyl" Label
on 1 November 2014
Calling Card may not exude the dripping sweat and passion of Live in Europe or Irish Tour, but musically, it is Gallagher's masterpiece. The standard of his songwriting is first class - there is not a single weak filler track - while bringing in Roger Glover as producer gives the whole production a much more sophisticated feel than the at times back to basics sound that characterised much of Gallagher's studio output.
The contrast with Against The Grain, which was released the previous year, could not have been more marked. Instead of the undiluted blues and straight ahead rock of the former (some of it rather forgettable), Calling Card brought out the jazzier side of Gallagher's music, something that had been hinted at ever since the days of Taste. And if had acceded to Chrysalis's wish to release the beautiful Edged In Blue as a single, goodness knows what trajectory Gallagher's career could have taken, especially in the US.
So once you have inflicted some long term permanent damage to your eardrums after listening to the aforementioned two live albums, this is the one to buy, if you really want to hear what Gallagher was truly capable of as a musician. Unfortunately it slightly slipped under the radar screen on first release, just scraping into the lower reaches of the UK charts, BUT it should be right up there in everyone's Top Ten lists.
And as a postscript, this latest reissue finally does the album proper justice. The original cover artwork has been fully restored while the sound quality is superb.
on 10 December 2013
I have this as part of a set of 5 albums but wanted the remastered versions as they have sleeve notes and the one I had didn't. Its Rory, its brilliant, I just love everything he did, all his work is timeless and flawless, just wonderful
Rory Gallaghers work sort of exists just under the radar, so to speak. It is always there and loved with a passion by his fans, yet rarely seen mentioned in print these days unless someone is listing of their influences, or favourite guitar players.
This new from the analogue masters reissue series ought to delight the hard core fans as they address and correct some issues, too much reverb, new mixes, new stereo placings that were made during the previous conversion to cd. Donal has got the team to go back to the final Rory mixes and freshly digitise them using the latest equipment in order to produce what could be described as the best sounding cd versions of Rorys small but incredibly potent back catalogue. The new issues also come in a neat cardboard foldover sleeve along with new sleevenotes
Rory plays a blinder on this particular outing. I always felt that having Lou Martin in the band helped fill out the sound during Rorys solos and that Rod de'Ath had a bit of swing in his drumming that loaned the music a lighter feel than the heavier rock three piece of later years.
Anyone who is fan of the guitar gets a real feast of then here, acoustic, slide, electric......all played by a master musician.
on 4 December 2014
All Rory fans know Calling Card is arguably his one of his best. For new fans Calling Card is a must have. It's got everything on this album that any rock fan would love from start to finish. This 2012 remaster sounds great. Warm, clear and balanced, it's the version to own.
Great job Donal!