Archive for December 2008
As far as being a fan of a band, especially an older band like Thin Lizzy, I am a relative newbie. In 1997 one of the consultants that I worked with (now a good friend) gave me his record collection which consisted of German pressings of UFO, MSG, Scorpions, Van Halen and Thin Lizzy to name the main ones. He told me to sell what I didn’t want and pay him for that and keep anything else that I wanted to keep for myself. Of course everything went except for the Thin Lizzy stuff.
Now, let’s back up another decade or so. I remember being at Daniel’s (Cathedral71) house and he had Renegade on cassette. He played Angel of Death from that album for me and I thought it was pretty cool but never gave them any attention until I acquired that record collection 10 years later. One of the LPs he had was a compilation called Lizzy Killers. Like most people who had ever owned a radio, I was familiar with The Boys are Back in Town and Jailbreak, both of which were on the LP, but I had never heard Whiskey in the Jar or Wild One or pretty much anything else by them. So I started playing the other LPs more and more.
I cam remember when Z-Rock had its local affiliate and they used to play Cold Sweat just about every day and I always thought it was a cool song, but it still didn’t make me want to learn more about them. After spinning those LPs of Kraig’s for a few months, I was hooked. Such a talented, versatile band.
Here’s how their discography breaks down for me:
Thin Lizzy – 1971
Lots of blues and jazz influences on this one. Definitely not one of my faves but the standout tracks are Honesty Is No Excuse and Look What the Wind Blew In. Lizzy was a 3 piece band in this era and Eric Bell’s playing just never did it for me.
Shades of a Blue Orphange – 1972
I like this album even less than the debut. It just seemed like a very uncomfortable record. I rarely listen to it. Call the Police is about the only song I can say that I love on this one.
Vagabonds of the Western World – 1973
This is the album that seemed to be a turning point for the band. They started to heavy up a bit. This also includes Whiskey in the Jar (later bastardized by Metallica). Lots of really good songs on here; Little Girl In Bloom, The Rocker, A Song for While I’m Away, Black Boys On the Corner. Thankfully for Lizzy, this was Eric Bell’s last album with them.
Night Life – 1974
Exit Bell, Enter Brian Robertson and Scott Gorham. I’ve always considered this album a bit sultry. It’s got it’s bluesy overtones with songs like Still In Love With You, Showdown and Night Life. It’s a soft album but probably in my top 3 of their catalogue.
Fighting – 1975
Now they are beginning to rock it out. I still find it odd that they chose a Bob Seger cover (Rosalie) to open an LP with but it proved successful for them over the years. Lots of great songs with stunning guitar work like Wild One, Fighting My Way Back and Suicide. They also keep it diverse with mellow songs like For Those Who Love To Live and Spirit Slips Away. Gorham and Robertson are a perfect fit.
Jailbreak – 1976
Yep. Two huge hits from this one: Boys Are Back In Town and Jailbreak. Those are two songs I could live without for sure. But there are some other fine gems on here like Emerald, Romeo and the Lonely Girl, Running Back, Cowboy Song and Warriors. Damn fine album that was really their only lasting effort in the States.
Johnny the Fox – 1976
This one was written while Lynott was recovering from hepatitis and is recorded a half step down from standard tuning. When writing it, he said the lower tuning helped him sing while he was laid up. Lots of great songs on here and this is one of my faves by them. Borderline (possibly my fave Lizzy song ever), Don’t Believe a Word, Old Flame, Fool’s Gold, Massacre and pretty much the whole album are worth putting ears to.
Bad Reputation – 1977
Another favorite of mine and loaded with great songs like the title track, That Woman’s Gonna Break Your Heart, Dear Lord and Dancing In the Moonlight.
Black Rose – 1979
Definitely not one of my favorites by them and I don’t really know why. Robertson left the band and Gary Moore filled in on this one. The only 4 songs I like are S&M, Got To Give It Up, With Love and Waiting for an Alibi. The rest just doesn’t do it for me.
Chinatown – 1980
Each album of Lizzy’s follows a good progression of getting heavier and it was well-known that Phil liked metal. Gary left the band and Snowy White came in. He never looked like he fit but he was a fine player. Lots of great songs on here including the title track (great dual guitar stuff), We Will Be Strong, Didn’t I, Sugar Blues and Hey You. Phil seemed to write a lot about his personal life and his drug use came up in his songs over and over. This was a rough time in the band as both Phil and Scott were hooked to the gills on smack.
Renegade – 1982
This is a hard rock classic. Angel of Death, Hollywood, Mexican Blood, Leave This Town, Renegade…I love this album except for the song Fats. I just never felt that it fit but it did show some fancy bass playing by Phil and it sounds like he’s playing a fretless on it. All that being said, I love it.
Thunder and Lightning – 1983
Exit Snowy White, enter John Sykes. Lizzy entered the metal era. The title track, Holy War, Cold Sweat. Damn! This album is perfect and I really wish they would have stayed together to do one more. Even though it’s not heavy, The Sun Goes Down is definitely a standout track and another one where you can hear Phil pour some of his heart out in the vocals.
Unfortunately, they didn’t do well stateside and even more unfortunate is that they are basically known here by one album and 2 to 3 songs. One this that is kind of nice is to see how many bands from that era and later cite Lizzy as an influence. Phil’s songwriting abilities are certainly highly regarded in the music business and it’s easy to see why.
Thanks Kraig. Thanks Phil.