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Thin Lizzy

  • Thin Lizzy
  • Shades Of A Blue Orphanage
  • Vagabonds Of The
    Western World
  • Nightlife
  • Fighting
  • Jailbreak
  • Johnny The Fox
  • Bad Reputation
  • Live And Dangerous
  • Black Rose

  • Album Reviews |

    Thin Lizzy

    All reviews on this page written by John from County Kildare, Ireland.
    You can contact him via the Twitter or directly at john.j.doyle@nuim.ie

    Thin Lizzy 8 ( 1971 )
    The Friendly Ranger at Clontarf Castle, Honesty Is No Excuse, Diddy Levine, Ray-Gun, Look What the Wind Blew In, Éire, Return of the Farmer's Son, Clifton Grange Hotel, Saga of the Ageing Orphan, Remembering, Pt. 1.

    Coming from the butt-end of flower power sentiment doesn't leave a wasted generation totally optimistic for any messianic rock n' roll combos to magically appear out of the cosmos. Hailing instead from Dublin and Belfast, Thin Lizzy's original guise as a flamboyant power trio looking exactly like a bunch of interstellar hobos, wasn't yet the answer to the alchemists' prayers. As much inspired by The Dubliners and obscure Irish folk as they were by Jimi Hendrix and Cream, their first collection is a nervous introduction, Phil Lynott's punchy songwriting motifs completely missing on the melancholic Honesty is no Excuse, as yet unfulfilled on Look What the Wind Blew In which does go up a little in estimation as he references the fighting on the ropes style of Page and Plant. Lady troubles so glibly essayed in Lizzy's prime see Phil far too tense to sing with a wry smile on his face here. That would have to wait for other nefarious women to tease out of him.

    Not yet the hard-rocking catalysts, Lynott, Eric Bell, and Brian Downey are championed by hipper than thou European DJs, Telling indications why substance as much as raunchy tags prevail throughout Éire, Diddy Levine, Saga of the Ageing Orphan, exercises in saluting a prog-rock beat. Interplay between the trio occasionally branches out for Bell's obvious love of Jeff Beck to shake up the schoolboy tension, a shy prematurely bearded guitarist actually adept to the spotlight when he finds his groove on Ray Gun (one of a handful of original Lizzy's songs Lynott did not make a written contribution to), Brian Downey's drumming even at this stage is fluent, producer Scott English keeping the sound Au Naturale among the perfumed air of mellotrons and phasing.

    It is this chalk and cheese delivery which concocted an identity for Thin Lizzy. Enhancing what are regular displays of adult guile amongst the odd moment of cringingly tight songwriting, the group were still gliding below the ghost of a deflated generation. Thin Lizzy hit the ground running; only 12 months before they were slogging away in anything but cosmic shitholes across the length and breadth of Ireland, these lads grew up fast and knew it too. Whether they were another flash in the pan would remain to be seen.

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    Shades Of A Blue Orphanage 7 ( 1972 )
    The Rise & Dear Demise of the Funky Nomadic Tribes, Buffalo Gal, I Don't Want to Forget How To Jive, Sarah, Brought Down, Baby Face, Chatting Today, Call the Police, Shades of a Blue Orphanage.

    Fidgety meandering jams, premature laments for childhood memories and familiar faces, 1950s tinged shuffles straight from Sun Records, part and parcel of what makes up Thin Lizzy's sophomore LP or David "Kid" Jansen's favourite album of 1972 if you're that way inclined. If you're not, then you may be of the opinion that Shades of a Blue Orphanage is an unsure and patchy affair. Eric Bell expressed concerns over Decca's ambitions for the group, best signified by the ebb and flow experimentation of the opening number, Lynott's rushed lyrics, and a highly inappropriate solo from Brian that sounds so completely out of place for track 1. Monotone post-psychedelic memoirs seem to blight its companion piece, the rather maudlin finale to a tight schedule, where in between only Buffalo Gal with its meeting of the rural Irish Saturday night and the cinematic revelry Lynott so unashamedly idolised earns the moniker of classic.

    At least in the latter case study Lynott the songwriter hits us with everything he had bottled up 11 months earlier, saying goodbye to Lynott the shy consciously dressed frontman who signs off forever. Sounding like they still want to emulate others rather than fusing with their own zeitgeist, Baby Face might just have caught Rory Gallagher off-guard, Sarah(no relation to the idiosyncratic melodies of 1979), reports for duty off the muse of the New Day EP. Nick Tauber shouldn't be castigated for what is a let-down; performances are more crisp, acoustically they are as capable as any Irish in-house folk band, instead it is the sum of the parts lost in parody before the group have even earned their stripes, I Don't Want to Forget How To Jive would be throwaway only to be rescued by Phil's series of chunky notes and growing awareness that he is allowed to giggle here and there.

    In the trippy haze of Shades of a Blue Orphanage lies something the mythologists hadn't realised in 1972. Between Van Morrison and what would later follow in hopeless pastiche was Ireland's truest bluest troubadour, his persona a sticky summer day to Morrison's boorish grinch, his songwriting deliciously free of Hewson and Evans' deity complex. Lynott and Thin Lizzy were so close to the glittering prize it probably stung, this exhibit fails to do their cause justice however, much better was to succeed it.

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    Vagabonds Of The Western World ( 1973 )
    Mama Nature Said, The Hero and the Madman, Slow Blues, The Rocker, Vagabond of the Western World, Little Girl in Bloom, Gonna Creep Up On You, A Song for While I'm Away.

    1973 is a bittersweet year for Thin Lizzy. Every nook and cranny they were afraid to explore, left unchartered, or simply turned the other cheek at, is finally unleashed on the splendid Vagabonds of the Western World. Unfortunately after a day of heavy boozing led to a truly shambolic gig a few months after its release Eric Bell would part company from the band, although that story should be kept for another day. One thing's for sure, he left a humdinger of a legacy here, with elements of their classic sound deployed through ringing power chords and a vicious lizard-like riff on the title song, slippery slide-guitar on Mama Nature Said, and the Pièce de résistance The Rocker, Lizzy's true awakening, and a solo from Bell a succession of replacements failed to emulate.

    No such label as the tricky third album applies for these boisterous vagabonds. Gonna Creep Up On You muscles its way through neon etched sidewalks, setting a precedent for better known nocturnal voyages Nightlife, Johnny the Fox, etc, a trio growling with celtic muscle, now finely tuned exponents of stateside metropolitan funk.

    Leaving the leather jacket and testosterone strut in the doorway for Little Girl In Bloom and A Song For While I'm Away sets the closet romantic free with the panache that would become his trademark, difficult not to marvel how a man just turned 24 can be so worldly, one moment a pool cue brandishing sexual predator, the next, a tender shoulder to cry on.

    Eric Bell's fall from grace at least didn't end in his annihilation. Having substituted his wild eclecticism for a mature muse of personal influences, Bell's swansong and Lynott and Downey's first "grown up" body of songs feel like an ad-hoc debut. Handling the anxieties of 1971 and misplaced adrenalin of 1972 with a few deep breaths, one can only ponder on where this line-up would have went from here in the cosmos. It wouldn’t just be Bell's enforced departure that would become noticeable in the next few months.

    This leaves Vagabonds of the Western World as a frustrating unfulfilled adventure. The title track cemented a certain mythical promise and drove home their hard-rock prowess, The Rocker raised dust like a tornado, Lynott's love songs were stupendously confident. Where Bell would've taken his soundwaves next, who knows, his last fully official appearance with the group should be seen as the revelation it is, unfortunately it is one that was cut short.

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    Nightlife ( 1974 )
    She Knows, Night Life, It's Only Money, Still in Love With You, Frankie Carroll, Showdown, Banshee, Philomena, Sha La La, Dear Heart.

    Huge hit singles like Whiskey in the Jar are at this state of play an albatross more than a meal ticket. For 1974's Nightlife album dual lead guitarists Scott Gorham from California and badass Glasgow urchin Brian Robertson step on board as Lynott and Downey slip away from their Irish roots and set out to open a new chapter. Vivacious single Little Darling recorded with temporary member Gary Moore gives the impression it'll be more of the same straight to the gut all out rock, yet Nightlife, in the necessity to prove Thin Lizzy are finally over their infuriating stop-start-stop interruptions, ends up as the most unlikeliest of their albums. Solemn string arrangements pop up more than once, on Frankie Carroll, essentially a solo track for Phil, they argument a brief night in the life of a Dublin deadbeat, Dear Heart works better, closing the album with all 4 members glued into each other's key changes, building on the sultry minor chords, leaving the strings to do their job in a fine elegant display.

    Musically it's an offbeat album to venture through. She Knows is Phil and Scott's first time writing together, the smooth talking blonde six stringer bringing a touch of his aural roots into a pleasant if unremarkable opener. Not much evidence here of Gorham's subsequent forays in the tight sweaty melodic hard rock that would follow. For much of the proceedings, Scott and Robbo are uncertain how they should introduce themselves to each other, keeping it as conservative as possible on It's Only Money Phil's pragmatic tale of how even "rock stars" get the fiscal blues.

    Still In Love With You has become reified in legend for its epic live renditions sometimes pushing on 10 minutes, don't expect something similar from its first and overwhelmingly straight appearance. A slightly faster pace, yet flat drumming from Brian, Robbo and Scott staring at each other as guests Frankie Miller and Gary Moore just seem to get in the way, Phil's vocal tired and resigned as opposed to heartbroken and weary as it would appear in those spectacular live renditions. Matters of the heart are not so rosy in Lizzyville. Sly and sleazy Showdown brings substance to the flashy exterior, twin leads sparkling when Lynott gives them something to work with, jazz and blues influences are pretty obvious, cut below the surface and find just how versatile Lynott really was long before his solo albums were on the agenda. Downey's Sha La La like Still In Love With You is a more comfortable outing on stage, this is not to discard the emergence of the trademark trad Irish influence on the lead harmonies, or Phil's ever deepening inquiries into the known and unknown.

    Thin Lizzy's new line up sound all at sea for much of this set list, never fully sure if they should sweat out every last drop of romantic melancholia or spit blood on their get out of jail rocker cards. Nightlife is far too muddled too be judged as progress, yet for all its messiness it was a once-off blessed by sweeping beauty and endearing naivety, Phil Lynott was growing in stature as a writer, performer, and rock icon, the first appearance of Thin Lizzy's most celebrated lead guitar duo set in place a formula that never becomes routine, Brian Downey is in full command at all times despite a underwhelming rapport with the mixing desk. Yes it is flawed, but it is fascinating too, and a road Thin Lizzy would rarely venture down again.

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    Fighting 8 ( 1975 )
    Rosalie, For Those Who Love to Live, Suicide, Wild One, Fighting My Way Back, King's Vengeance, Spirit Slips Away, Silver Dollar, Freedom Song, Ballad of a Hard Man.

    Phil Lynott's first lone attempt at production was a sign that after 4 years of restless slogging, patience may have been running out on all sides. Was there any indication that Fighting would at last herald Thin Lizzy as rightful occupiers of the throne rather than mere upstarts who always seemed to lose their way as they got agonisingly close? Well, yes and no. Settling in their new U.K. surroundings gave the lads a necessary boot up the arse, showing them just how workman-like they would have to be. Demos became fully fledged songs over the summer of 1975, with the occasional gig in-between to sharpen their reflexes and test the waters. Hard rocking, throat grabbers like For Those Who Love to Live see Lynott in control of his charges, the guitarists ooze a confidence completely lacking on Nightlife while Phil considers himself privy to unofficially namedrop the kind of hedonism that would eventually take him to the next world. Rosalie is the first ship that sets sail here, Bob Seeger's bluesy little skirt lifter given the Lizzy trademark with Roberston's wailing wah-wah lead setting a precedent for those long haul live jams. it may not have been a successful singles chart venture in that fateful summer, it did not matter one iota, Thin Lizzy were at least artistically if not commercially, finding their own niche at last.

    Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson show here what a lead duo needs, crisp attention to scales, pedals used in moderation, precise timing and awareness of each other's party pieces, the ability to semi-improvise as the other one holds the fort. Wild One was Phil's most "political" composition to date, Scott and Brian oblige its "sensitive" subject matter with a beautiful mix of descending notes and ascending harmonics, Brian Downey keeps a mid-tempo watch on things, Phil himself, often undervalued as a bassist, never once gets caught by the blink and miss 'em key changes. Wild One naturally became a live favourite, Lynott's first tentative studio supervision steps giving it the nurturing it would need on those long haul flights.

    Let's look at the other improvements too; King's Vengeance, fuses acoustic and electric junctures with Phil Lynott's lyrical fantasies and gruff vocal bravado met at the crossroads by Brian D's machine gun delivery of a newly crowned rock royalty’s rite of passage. Bringing a subtlety to historical trauma and a hungry bunch of warriors riffing their way to the top is one thing, Suicide written a few years earlier, is a risky venture enlightened rather than mocked by Phil's urban jungle viewpoint. Standing back just a little from the initial gasping breaths and the latter apathy, Thin Lizzy's iconic frontman is neither a gossiping neighbour nor a ghoulish spectre haunting the final hours of the tragic Peter Brent. Like Frankie Carroll before him, Brent is the everyman Lynott could immortalise retaining a dignity and integrity at all times. Spirit Slips Away swaps existential for metaphysical, not the first time Lynott would address his own mortality in such a chilling manner, a howling wind and phasing on the final mix a little obvious maybe, the manner of Phil's biting conscience is convincing and eye-wateringly frightening with or without studio trickery.

    Creatively, Fighting introduces the recognised Thin Lizzy of mid-Atlantic sold out stadium tours to the world. Commercially they would have to bite their lips for another few months, as Lynott understood on Fighting My Way Back, nothing could be taken for granted, to be a successful band took more than talent alone, “I’m tough, rough, ready and able/To pick myself up from under this table/Don’t stick no sign on me/I got no label/I’m a little sick, unsure, unsound and unstable.” The lesson was leanred on a long hard slog, now they just needed to find that one last piece of the jigsaw.

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    Jailbreak ( 1976 )
    Rosalie, Jailbreak, Angel from the Coast, Running Back, Romeo and the Lonely Girl, Warriors, The Boys Are Back in Town, Fight or Fall, Cowboy Song, Emerald.

    American chart success finally arrives with The Boys Are Back in Town, Irish rockers with a distinct stateside tag are ready to conquer all with the John Alcock produced Jailbreak, a case of just what the doctor had ordered. A fine line is cut between the spring-loaded arrangements and what Rolling Stone saw as Phil Lynott's "Celtic soul...", a cross-pollination of genres where Lynott, Downey, Gorham, and Robbo got to play as rough as they wanted, Warriors, or cry into their beer Fight or Fall.

    Jailbreak is an artistic milestone for the rockers. As mentioned, huge singles success in the U.S.A. left them free to turn their backs on theatres and concentrate on filling sporting arenas where Gorham and Robertson's sheer power could rocket into the clouds, Lynott and Downey were completely in control at this point, old pros doing it with their eyes closed on the cautionary Angel from the Coast, the nihilistic companion piece to Spirit Slips Away, while reliving their Dublin celluloid fancies with the boogie of crowd pleaser Cowboy Song. Most of the album became part of the live set, no surprise really, considering how instantly attractive Alcock's new(ish) sonic horizon was, a man who should be forever idolised in Lizzy circles for a sound that is both classic pop and rock with a whiplash crack, The Boys Are Back in Town is for a generation everything that rock stands for, the band tighter than a enraged cobra, Phil's sly street corner philosopher seducing the returning home-town queen who is "Driving all the old men crazy".

    How does Jailbreak stand up over three decades later? Judging that the Wicca and sorcery undertones of Emerald with Brian Downey's rolling fills unleashing the stark bulging eyed percussionist from the unorthodox (for a drummer) quiet-man role, or the stupendous Jailbreak itself, complete with police sirens, Allman Brothers riffing and Phil's rambling, but who cares anyway, lyrics, both push The Boys... right up against the wall in a scuffle to see who really is the boss here, shows clearly that six albums into their career Thin Lizzy were now masters of their own destiny. A monster groove is unleashed, one that is completely impossible to resist, with more than just the compulsory epic while secondary tracks stare on nervously.

    Occasionally Phil may push his luck, "Ohh poor Romeo/Sitting all on his Own-eee-oo...", no matter, Jailbreak is quite correctly lauded as the rock masterpiece it is, in every definition of the term, poppy hooks, aggressive driving riffs, melodically precise lead guitar rock, Downey's ability to switch from conservative time-keeper to skin pounding beast, and a breathtakingly memorable selection of tracks. Filler is not a word that ever even comes into consideration. Thin Lizzy struck gold with this one, and few bands of their, or any generation, deserved it more than them.

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    Johnny The Fox 9 ( 1976 )
    Johnny, Rocky, Borderline, Don't Believe a Word, Fools Gold, Johnny the Fox Meets Jimmy the Weed, Old Flame, Massacre, Sweet Marie, Boogie Woogie Dance

    Immediately after the euphoria comes the contemplation. Oddly considered a concept album Johnny the Fox wastes no time in exploiting the decadent energy Phil and his troops had veritable land-masses of to spare in 1976. Now unstoppable as they chew their way through copious bystanders, such strengths are best understood by the limitations. This album, perhaps in the immediate aftermath of its release, doesn't go very far to explain the "concept" tag, possibly it was marketing beyond musical clout, an urban myth maybe, whatever the case, Jailbreak has the flippant tags and garage rock heat, here we turn to narratives like Old Flame and Fool's Gold, pastures new for a cautious Gorham and an ever more maturing Robertson. It is the cynical, yet necessarily so Lynott, who plays charmer and cad with neurotic fervour on Don't Believe a Word paying off with another hit single, pushing him ever more further ahead of his erstwhile fellow road hungry troubadours.

    Brian Downey's strengths lay in a patience that unleashed a furious thunderstorm if given an inch, Boogie Woogie Dance is a feverous rumble that climbs into the ring with Edgar Winter's Frankenstein, Downey now 99% Hyde and 1% Jekyll if anyone wants to check the figures. Rocky goes a little astray on the Elvis circa 1956 "look at my shiny new guitar!" sentiment, with Lynott's most tedious bedtime story since Shades of a Blue Orphanage, Brian Robertson's patience holds out as the tense Borderline brings reality and bitter moonlight back in view of each other.

    Johnny the Fox Meets Jimmy the Weed takes up from where Gonna Creep Up On You had been put on hiatus, a favourite of sample merchants, it is Downey again to the forefront, the alakazam to Lynott's sidewalk sage.

    Now a machine, not a disposable brand, Thin Lizzy's Irish guile, Californian harmonies, and Glasgow grit comes of age. If it comes across as another day at the office, then that's nothing to be critical of. The music saturates itself with the hybrid eclecticisms of 4 lean mean killers drawn into a rock n' roll wasteland. Disco is taking root, punk is trying to rip everything up, despite Thin Lizzy's hard shell, their romantic lure gets the vote from all combatants again. For all that was chaos in the mid 1970s, Johnny the Fox was the blissful anchor.

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    Bad Reputation ( 1977 )
    Soldier of Fortune, Bad Reputation, Opium Trail, Southbound, Dancing in the Moonlight (It's Caught Me in Its Spotlight), Killer Without a Cause, Downtown Sundown, That Woman's Gonna Break Your Heart, Dear Lord.

    Straying on to what would become a well worn path, Thin Lizzy's ups and downs now begin to nibble at the edges. Perhaps as they were no strangers to having their backs to the wall, Bad Reputation shows signs of quoting their own mythology. Phil's continual curiosity tends to romanticise the glory behind the hard facts as Opium Trail ignored the middle men. Still, it was one hell of a song for all of its ivory tower myopia. Robbo is ever close to blowing his short fuse, here is only credited as a semi-official member, Downey's rarely discussed weaknesses would later compound to force him out of a tour down under.

    So in steps Scott as a temporary general to the troops. Showing that responsibility ignites rather than deflates him, Phil's other lack of worldliness curiosity piece Soldier of Fortune ends up with more credit than it deserves, thematically, harmonically, though Scott's moment to shine doesn’t simply end by brushing off the political cobwebs. Bad Reputation kicks in straight away, a cobra spitting at the punks of London and New York, no wonder they were so quick to adapt the feline Dubliner as one of their own. Come and get it boys, the ball is in your court now.

    Whether Phil Lynott cared too much for critics is debatable; though the mutual respect was surely never as much in abundance when Dancing in the Moonlight rectified the honourable failures of Nightlife. Don't resort to dragging Van Morrison's name up for the trillionth time, Lynott's teenage awakenings are as urgent to the hormones of Noo Joisey beach parties or the Paris wanderlust on his own horizon. It is perfect Irish pop cut from the cloth of a universal sentiment.

    Exquisitely sung, precisely produced, Downtown Sundown follows the lead of the up-tempo ballads scattered throughout Lynott's repertoire, Deart Heart tips its hat to neurotic mid 70s John Lennon. Music by Gorham, lyrics by Lynott, tightly packed chords tremble with a worry and strung out conscience haunting Lynott's most candid piece since A Song For While I'm Away.

    Not as spontaneous or irresistible as Jailbreak, nor as charismatic as Johnny the Fox, individuals seem to carry the weight as others float out to sea. The band, sly road foxes that they are, do not crumble under their myths, they are a sum of sometimes eccentric though always professional parts, hence why they can hold Bad Reputation high above the schlock their contemporaries had decided was a good "response" to the punk phenomenon. Actually, this is a fine collection, like its direct predecessors, leaving an inch here and there for a live explosion while never undercooking its component parts. About a centimetre or two below prime Lizzy, it is rough and sensitive, commanding, unsure, cocky. Frailties each time add spice to the bubbling aggressions. Let's give them a B+ this time around.

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    Live And Dangerous 10 ( 1978 )
    Jailbreak, Emerald, Southbound, Rosalie/Cowgirl's Song, Dancing in the Moonlight (It's Caught Me in Its Spotlight), Massacre, Still in Love With You, Johnny the Fox Meets Jimmy the Weed, Cowboy Song, The Boys Are Back in Town, Don't Believe a Word, Warriors, Are You Ready, Suicide, Sha La La, Baby Drives Me Crazy, The Rocker

    Live and Dangerous. An album that is more than a concert souvenir, it is a sacred text which must be learned note for note, and sound for sound for a disciple to wear his denim jacket with real conviction. Early 1970s live albums were the bait to seduce pop-pickers from behind the sofa into the smokey subterranean covens. 1978's stellar ambush of the eardrums is Phil Lynott riveting Thin Lizzy into the hearts and minds of those fleeing the mayhem of Jailbreak, the stiffs who turned up their noses when Fighting kicked the beer bottles out of the way and Thin Lizzy were revealed as Ireland's ballsiest rockers bar none.

    They were bleeding outside and inside after the highways of America and Europe got more familiar, if it was hurting it doesn't show one iota here. Their genial working-man ethics ensures a double-album of what are basically greatest hits doesn’t reek of fraud, rumours of excessive studio tinkering remain too, though a scintillating Still in Love With You and the rambunctious Rosalie/Cowgirl's Song are so close to the bone a cloak and dagger operation would have only ripped out the foundations. On the rip-roaring Sha-La-La and Emerald the case for the defence is victorious.

    Out of the studio Phil's charisma is like a rampant wolf on the prowl, "Does anybody here have any Irish in them?" he jovially goads an equally up for it bunch of rockers, Robbo and Scott celebrate a farewell to arms with the punchy Warriors, Brian Downey's mission statement throughout rests somewhere between wearing the captain's hat Southbound, Are You Ready, and the don't fuck with me he always keeps for the peak of the party, ref - any others that takes the speakers to hell and back. Downey marches to his own beat throughout, 10 seconds into Johnny the Fox Meets Jimmy the Weed try to fight off doing the exact same strut through a Friday night in the local.

    A well rehearsed "spontaneous" number Baby Drives Me Crazy sets up Dublin cowboy Lynott to try his hand at the Delta bluesman shtick, Gorham, Downey, Robertson, and a barrage of boney arsed kids all respond in kind. Don't bother rooting out the eternal greatest hits collections. This is a far more edgy starting point, somewhere between the fraternity aura and the occasionally on the ball critical rhetoric, Live and Dangerous sits like the half full bottle of Scotch in the booze cabinet when the folks are out of town. In at the deep end, the sweat, flickering strobe lights, adolescent dreams, blistering Marshall amps, the bricolage for Lynott's dynasty, it's the perfect prescription for a rock 'n' roll catharsis. Go on, take a sup, nah, a huge gulp is more like it.

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    Black Rose ( 1979 )
    Do Anything You Want To, Toughest Street in Town, S&M, Waiting for an Alibi, Sarah, Got to Give It Up, Get Out Of Here, With Love, Róisín Dubh (Black Rose): A Rock Legend

    Nine effectively produced tracks by Tony Visconti mark a thoroughly entertaining back to basics tenth album. Robertson has skedaddled for good this time, so Gary Moore officially joins up for the second time, co-writing the classic Sarah while re-energising the licks alongside Gorham on the equally ballsy and melodic Toughest Street in Town. The "new" axe slinger works a treat as Scott saves his most potent guile for Got to Give It Up a track more harrowing through the mists of time than anyone back in 1979 could have dared imagine. Just what Phil got up to in-between recording time in Paris makes the skin curl looking back now.

    Tense and melodically crisp too, the group treat this as a slight departure from expectations (S&M is delicisiously sulky, although never as vicious as its packaging merits). With Visconti in full charge, they can focus on their own craftsman strengths, neurotic Waiting for an Alibi was the compulsory top 10 hit in the U.K., Visconti leaving his mark with a smoother mix, something that opens up vast spaces for Lynott's growing new-Romantic ideals. All in all, three hit singles in total come from an album always likely to impress with a fine division drawn between formula and eclecticism, Róisín Dubh (Black Rose): A Rock Legend fusing traditional Irish scales and Lynott's Celtic vagabond narrative, is one of their most ambitious endeavours, a thundering riff building to a suitably drawn out melancholic coda. Sounding completely spontaneous as usual, Phil's oral narrative is as much a mirror image of his own glories and horrors as the fabled Celtic warriors of ancient battlefields and bustling metropolitan streets he laments.

    Commercially this is one the last times they would be given the light of day outside of Europe. For all the cult of personality critical rhetoric, Black Rose sounds like what the band want a Thin Lizzy album to be. This translates to what the casual fan just as much as the zealot wants, epic journeys Lynott hammers home his own status with, prime cut guitar pop, welcome experimentation. Black Rose fuses all three with a cocky shine, after 10 albums any band of any genre could afford to be happy with that.

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    this page last updated 31/01/10

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