Rory Gallagher is the last true journeyman of the Sixties British blues boom, and Calling Card displays the craft that has garnered him a guitar-hungry cult following. Without frills or affectations, Gallagher has remained in solid blues territory while periodically turning up the burners to a rocker's intensity. In terms of the integrity with which he joins these two passions, he recalls Peter Green, whose tasteful guitar defined the original Fleetwood Mac.
Calling Card moves deftly through various blues-rock styles, and while neither his vocals nor his lyrics are particularly arresting, they complement the sure craft with which the songs were written. For with Gallagher, it's the sound that counts, and his rhythm and keyboard trio delivers the assured barroom backing he prefers. Tough and tight, they lay down a sound that calls attention to itself only when you find it consistently returning to your turntable.
The star of the show, of course, is Gallagher's Stratocaster, and "Do You Read Me" wisely kicks off with a brittle rhythm riff and an equally gruff vocal. Funkier still is "Jackknife Beat," which cuts by virtue of its tasteful simplicity. It's on "Moonchild," though, that Gallagher really opens up. Propelled by a vicious rhythm reminiscent of Hendrix's Ladyland, his guitar is energized with a tone that burns with electricity. In three solo appearances, Gallagher builds the tension with sharp lines that bubble with raw excitement until they burst into flurried notes as the song fades.
The tension on the "Moonchild" solo is never completely resolvedgood guitarists always leave you hungry for moreand characteristically, Gallagher follows it with a title tune that boasts straight trebly blues figures. Such fluent variety is precisely his Calling Card. (RS 227)
(Posted: Dec 2, 1976)
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