Rory Gallagher - Calling Card (1976) - Album Review

By Sergio Ariza

A special album 

Calling Card
is a very special album in Rory Gallagher's discography. It is the first in which someone other than himself, in this case Deep Purple's own Roger Glover, lends him a hand in production. It is also the fifth and last of the line-up with which he recorded the best albums of his career, including works like Tattoo, Irish Tour '74 or this album, that is the one formed by Gallagher himself, Gerry McAvoy on bass, Rod de'Ath on drums and Lou Martin on keyboards; after this album only McAvoy would stay with him. But if there is one thing that makes this album special, it is that it is the most varied and best collection of songs of his career, demonstrating that, as well as being an exceptional guitarist, Gallagher was also a remarkable songwriter.


The best moments of his career may have come when he was on stage, but that doesn't mean that his studio albums don't contain true wonders, and possibly this album released in 1976, is the most varied of them all. Glover's hand is noticeable in a clear, hard rock sound, with great examples such as the enormous strength of the opening song, Do You Read Me, with a funky touch, the riff of Secret Agent, with an organ backing it up, reminiscent of Jon Lord, (Glover's partner in Deep Purple), or the best of all, the essential Moonchild, one of the staples of his live repertoire, in which he once again shines with his legendary and worn Stratocaster. Listening to this song, one can't help but to lick one's lips thinking about what would have come out of a possible collaboration between Gallagher and his compatriot Phil Lynott of
Thin Lizzy.

The title track is also reminiscent of another Irishman, with jazz touches that seem to be taken from Van Morrison's Moondance, while Jack-Knife Beat has a relaxed groove with a certain Latin touch. But what gives this album its magic lies in its two magnificent ballads, I'll Admit You're Gone and Edged in Blue. The first is an acoustic beauty in which Rory brings out all his delicacy and sensitivity. His acoustic slide work is masterful but the song stands on its own; a folkie wonder that shows us the Irishman's tender side. It sounds somewhere between Rod Stewart's early solo albums and a late 60s Dave Davies song. The second is of the most underrated songs of his career, one of his most memorable melodies, the most pop and perfect, in which he delivers some of his best moments as a guitarist.


We often forget that this giant guitarist also knew how to write a great song. It is clear that Rory Gallagher was ecstatic on stage, but he also knew how to make the most of the studio. His image outside of the pyrotechnics that surrounded the rock scene of the time, is also that of the guy who gave his all to his music, whether on stage or behind the booth, as he was an artist who was full of emotion in every moment of his performance.   

On this Calling Card, whether playing blues, jazz, folk or rock, you can feel that in every second of its remarkable 45-minute duration.