Tuesday, 25 September 2012

"Calling Card" by RORY GALLAGHER [Co-Produced With Roger Glover Of Deep Purple] (September 2012 Sony/Capo/Legacy CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...When The Blues Comes Calling With Its..."

"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" by RORY GALLAGHER 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 [Side 1]
2. Country Mile
3. Moonchild
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.

The Eleven Titles in the 2012 RORY GALLAGHER Remasters Series
CD Digipaks, Downloads and 'Music On Vinyl' LPs:

16 January 2012 CD DIGIPAK and DOWNLOAD:
1. "Rory Gallagher" (May 1971 debut) – released January 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88691917352 (Barcode 886919173529)
2. "Deuce" (November 1971 2nd studio LP) – released January 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88691917372 (Barcode 886919173727)
3. "Live! In Europe" (May 1972 1st Live LP) – released January 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88691917432 (Barcode 886919174328)
4. "Blueprint" (February 1973, 3rd studio album) – released January 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88691917452 (Barcode 886919174526)
5. "Tattoo" (November 1973, 4th studio album) – released January 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88691917462 (Barcode 886919174625)
6. "Irish Tour '74" (July 1974, 2nd Live Set, 2LPs onto 1CD) – released January 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88691917472 (Barcode 886919174724)

27 February 2012 VINYL:
1 to 6 above also released 27 February 2012 on Limited Edition 180-gram vinyl versions on the "Music On Vinyl" Label

24 September 2012 CD DIGIPAK and DOWNLOAD:
7. "Against The Grain" (October 1975, 5th studio album) – released September 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88725461492 (Barcode 887254614920)
8. "Calling Card" (August 1976, 6th studio album) – released September 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88725461472 (Barcode 887254614722)
9. "Photo-Finish" (October 1978, 7th studio album) – released September 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88725461462 (Barcode 887254614623)
10. "Top Priority" (September 1979, 8th studio album) – released September 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88725461452 (Barcode 88725461452)
11. "Jinx" (April 1982) – released September 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88725461432 (Barcode 887254614326)

22 October 2012 VINYL: 
7 to 11 above also released 22 October 2012 on Limited Edition 180-gram vinyl versions on the "Music On Vinyl" Label

PS: Most of the eleven above have been reissued since 2012 in standard jewel cases but have different catalogue numbers and barcodes. The jewel case version of "Deuce" for instance is Barcode 886919369625 and has the restored artwork, picture CD and expanded booklet of the 2012 issue. So if you want the 'digipak' repro artwork versions – use the Barcodes provided above when ordering...

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