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Dave Carter <email@example.com> (14.11.2000)
Like most other people, I was first exposed to Thin Lizzy via their Jailbreak album at age 14. What you defined as their 2nd period (1974-1978). At the time, I was also listening to Aerosmith, ZZ Top, Grand Funk (Red Album)... Hard-rockin bands, obviously not innovative, but giving many air-guitar sessions behind locked doors. And the Jailbreak album was a welcome addition. The guitars on 'Emerald' and 'Warriors' was manna from heaven for an air-guitar junkie. And, like you, Phil's voice kinda stuck with me. So I decided to try another Thin Lizzy. I bought the Fighting album. Only one good air-guitar song ('Suicide'), but somehow compelling. Songs like 'King's Venegence', 'Freedom Song', and 'For Those Who Love To Live' were so different for me, so full of imagery and actual thought and at the same time gritty and raw. And I was hooked on Phil's voice. And the potential of the twin guitars used on Jailbreak was too much to ignore. So I bought Nightlife. Shit! Phil went from tough guy to wimp, and not a decent guitar song. But goddammit, it was still kinda good. No way in hell was I bringing this album out on party nights. But I would definately listen to it on my headphones. Next it was Johnny the Fox. Imagery was dripping from the album sleeves on this one. I found myself migrating from air-guitarist to air-vocalist. Phil could paint a picture with some of these songs. But even I could tell it lacked direction. Maybe it was because I was getting older and wiser (age 15), or maybe some of the songs just sucked. No matter, I was officially hooked on Thin Lizzy. My next purchase was a compilation album of their 'First period'. Songs with Eric Bell as guitarist. Totally different, almost alien. It had no merit with me and was forgotten quickly. Bad Reputation was a sight for sore eyes when it was released. This album contains one of my favorite Thin Lizzy songs ('Bad Reputation'). But, once again, it lacked a single focus. What the hell were songs like 'Dear Lord', 'Downtown Sundown', 'Dancing In The Moonlight' doing on the same album as 'Opium Trail', 'Soldier of Fortune', and 'Bad Reputation'? Thin Lizzy was starting to piss me off. That was 1977 and I was waiting for the rockin band that would kill the dreaded disco. Thin Lizzy was not that band. I now had a love/hate feeling for the band. Nobody but me liked them. The Live and Dangerous album was pretty cool in 1978, and they even came to my city that year for a concert (the opening act was some punk-rock band: AC/DC). That was when I saw Phil in person. Next to David Lee Roth, the coolest rocker on Earth (I was 16). I was re-hooked and dutifully bought out Thin Lizzy's catalog as the years went by until 1984. And after Phil died, my Thin Lizzy collecting days were over. Or so I thought! When the CD burners came out for the computers, I decided to record and burn my Thin Lizzy records on CD. I hadn't brought them out in a while. They still sounded good. I half-heartedly put on the First-Period compilation record and was somewhat surprised that I enjoyed it. Feeling older and wiser and less stubborn, I went out and purchased the Shades Of A Blue Orphanage and Vagabonds Of The Western World CD's. I couldn't find their first album. The lack of direction evident in my collection was nowhere in sight in both of these recordings. The 3-piece Thin Lizzy version was tight, light, full of imagery, thoughtful, and rockin'! The song, 'Rocker', is so kick ass. 'The Hero and the Madmen' is sooo cool. And even the Shades album is good. Not rockin, but it has a single direction and is addictive. You're assessment of this band is right on the money. Their first period is the most artistic, fun, and enjoyable. The second period has many, many bright spots, but is eventually frustrating. However, unlike you, I rather enjoyed the Third period (1979-1983). Especially the Thunder and Lightning album. That album brought out the old air-guitar! Thanks for not killing this band in your review. Your rating of a 2 is generous.
Teimuraz Mtibelashvili <temower@Netra.ainova.sk> (23.04.2002)
I am a proud owner of complete (or so) catalogue of "Thin Lizzy"/Phil Lynott i.e. supposedly there's no song recorded by the band/man (demo, live, single or rare flexi) that I have not got.
I enjoyed your reviews very much and I agree with you on many issues. But to aver that I am a 'limited taste person that defies Phil Lynott' is something that even my unsure and utterly reflexive self cannot accept since Mr. Lynott has never been limited in his musical spectrum.
Nevertheless I can easily forgive you this because my personal perception is that you are familiar with his music via Thin Lizzy's official LPs only. Phil used to mention that Lizzy were the band with established sound and direction and it was not easy for him to bring into world all of his ideas through it. That is why 2 solo albums saw the daylight even during the Lizzy active period (1980 and 1982). Also after the breakup he had 2 years at his disposal and he did record some very interesting material but unfortunately no company could be persuaded to sign a heavy drug addict, supposedly at the end of his life, trying to start a new career.
Now that we have MP3 technology, it must not be a problem to share the music and if there is your wish I can gradually send you Mr. Lynott's work that will surely change your apprehension of the "old and dead dude".
thin lizzy ? a great and true hearted rock band. original, a gift from heaven .great stories, great music,recorded great, and most of all, great guitars.wot else do ya need? EDDIE
Jean -Fabien Ducrocq <firstname.lastname@example.org> (14.06.2004)
Dear Georges, About "Warrior" you said "...Note also the brilliant solo by Mr Gorham (or was it by Mr Robertson? Who can really tell with those two?)": Well I never read it anywhere but this one obviously is Robertson's. Gorham's and Robertson's solos are really different in style and dynamics. Robertson's are rapid, brutal, lunatic and orgasmic. Gorham's are worked, very melodic and charming. You should be able to hear the difference. Plus, this difference is part of the band's charm. I cannot believe you never experiment the evident beauty and emotion of Gorham's solo of say, the song "Bad Reputation" ? He leads the song in a few climaxes that the sole souvenir gives me chills. What a guitar class! And the man suffered at that time of complexes about his guitar skills. Unbelievable!
In your rating category "Listenability", you put a poor 2/5 and explained that "The big problem is that Thin Lizzy records, with a few exceptions, are just not tremendously interesting melody-wise. That's not their point at all." This is barely understandable put aside of this sentence read in the Jailbreak review: "In fact, four of the nine songs on here are my absolute favourites in the rich Lizzy catalog - excellent compositions that clearly demonstrate Lizzy's competency as first-rate melodists." So what ? Are they first-rate melodist or not ?
In "Originality" Horror: 0/5. "No originality - just lotsa feeling and unforgettable power." Don't you think that an Irish band which contains a black man singing hard rock with a delicate soulfull voice married with a so complementary/melodic/energetic twin guitar attack and the whole singing about Celtic legends/working class commentary/love songs... Well... Isn't it deserving a better note than 0 ? For example you put Talking Heads a 5 in the same category. I can hardly think about anything original in TH's music. Just another band from NYC.
Beside of that few statements, I wanna salute your review of Vagabonds. This particular album has always been far more underrated and you gave it back the rank it deserved. It seems that, as Deep Purple Mark I, Thin Lizzy Mark I is difficult to handle, to put in perspective beside the suite of the story and by consequences is widely forgotten by the critics, if not considered as "non-authentic" Thin Lizzy.
Temo Mtibelashvili <email@example.com> (23.06.2004)
Hi George! I have to agree with Jean - there are some contradictions in both your reviews and evaluation. In any case I'm addicted to this site (I hope I'll read it all). Thank you a very large innumerable amount of times for it! I do love it (which doesn't mean I agree with you all of the time).
Getting back to Thin Lizzy - Originality 0/5? That's tough. Phil used to say he'd rip off anyone if he could just make it right. The point is he couldn't. He was neither Bowie nor Zappa, righty-right. But listen to Black Rose, for instance. Can't you see any original ideas there? Just listen to 'S&M' for God's sake! And what about that unbelievable percussion/drumwork on 'Bad Reputation'? There are at least 3-4 truly original/inventive ideas (musical) on every given Lizzy album.
[Special author note: I'm afraid I'm simply forced to reiterate what I actually mean by 'originality' here as stated in essay #3. The respected readers obviously prefer the broad sense of the term, meaning that everything "new" that is brought into the world, be it a different melody or a different combination of words, is 'original'. That's fine and dandy, but I prefer to refer to this as "personality" or "individuality" - which Thin Lizzy, and Phil in particular, certainly has got a lot of. But as for 'originality', I reserve the term for huger achievements. Thin Lizzy never invented any new genres or styles. They never tackled any particular lyrical subject that wasn't somehow tackled before. They did not conduct massive sonic experimentation, sticking to tried and true patterns. No, they never "ripped off" anybody, but if that were enough for being called 'original', the parameter would simply lose any kind of meaningfulness for me.]
Temo Mtibelashvili <firstname.lastname@example.org> (07.07.2004)
George, wake up. If you define 'originality' that way, then why do you need that 5 grade scale you use? If 'original' goes for truly 'huge' achievements only, won't those 'huge' collect 5 out of 5? Moreover, please check out other artists' evaluation. Here is a little list just to show you that you either used double standrads or didn't exercise enough attention:
Originality: 2/5. Well, they did have a style of their own. But they didn't get too far with it. Originality: 2/5. Umm, well, that big band sound does account for something. Not too much, though. Originality: 2/5. Well, he mostly learned from his 'older pals', did he not? Originality: 2/5. No innovation in melody, but worthy of at least two points for his love of technical gimmicks. Originality: 3/5. More like a wagon-jumper than anything else, but his image is so unique anyway... Originality: 2/5. Much of the Seventies' stuff is pretty clever and well thought-out, but very rarely 'innovative' as such. Originality: 2/5. This is where they lose, too. Popularize a lot of stuff, yes; but great inventors they were not. Originality: 2/5. Give him his due for his unique piano style, but don't give him anything else. Originality: 1/5. Well, at least nobody could outbeat these guys in holding up through all the lineup changes. Originality: 1/5. Of course, I still have to hear these early Australian-only releases... sigh... Originality: 2/5. It might be a 5/5 in terms of "individual style", but technically speaking, the Danners haven't innovated a lot. Originality: 2/5. One point for the cool guitar tones, one for the general approach. Everything else wasn't theirs, but they made it theirs. Originality: 1/5. Okay. Gotta admit that besides John's amazing guitar tone and abilities, they lose here. Originality: 1/5. Apart from the voice... eh... Originality: 2/5. The "elements" are mostly borrowed, but the overall style is still their own. etc.
Having read the stuff above I felt sorry for Phil, really. At least you could go like this: Originality: 1/5. Give them their due for obeying that black bastard's commands...
The same applies to 'listenability' criteria - Amon Duul, which I have 4 albums of scoring as high as Thin Lizzy is... strange (Phil and the guys had some hit songs (the ones I actually hate too) and hit albums). Or does 'listenability' have a deeper metaphisical meaning?
[Special author note: Oh dear. Putting an equation sign between the numeric rating and the accompanying one-liner is obviously out of the question. For each of these bands, a PhD could be written on the degree of their originality - obviously, the one-liner cannot convey everything. Here, I can only reiterate: Thin Lizzy, in the musical sense of the word, have done NOTHING original. They have written A LOT of good music - but they were working deep within the hard-rock formula. What's wrong with that? NOTHING AT ALL. Creedence Clearwater Revival did originate a somewhat new style of guitar playing - Fogerty's approach of "unsophisticated calculation" to his riffs and solos was something I don't remember hearing from rootsy bands before. Yet even there, it was a minor achievement - which doesn't prevent me from acknowledging their greatness in other areas. As for Phil's being the black leader of an Irish band, I think it's Phil's parents we have to award the extra originality point to, not Phil himself.]
I read your reviews with great interest. I defintely disagree with your calling Lizzy a not too original band. Hell, the bands of today are not original! You also need to really listen to ALL the Lizzy albums again, EVERY LIZZY album was different, that is why I come back to them again and again. Bad Reputation is one album that could vie for best of the seventies status. NO rock group has come out with anything closely resembling the feel and tone of that LP! Yes, some of Lizzy's work was better than others, but as Led Zep sounds outdated with the passage of time, Vagabonds, Bad Rep, Black Rose and yes, even Nightlife has a "freshness" and honesty to them that lasts to this day. When I hear these "so-called" bands of today, they vainly try to capture the "Lizzy" sound, but they are way too interested in pierceings and tattoos to succeed.
Scott OHara <Scott.OHara@sopa.nsw.gov.au> (25.07.2006)
Hi there George it was interesting to read your review which put Thin Lizzy in the context of the US rock scene in the 70's - I'm assuming you have come to their music from an 'american perspective' as opposed to their native Ireland/UK perspective, which believe me is quite a different thing.
Given they sold very few lps in the US I think your article goes a long way to explaining why. I'm Australian and the context here in Oz was much more like the UK context for their music - Thin Lizzy was at the heavier end of what was available, and far more visible, receiving airplay and even TV play of their video clips than in the US. I do, however, have to disagree with a couple of your ratings - if you'll permit me to make the case!
Originality: 0/5. No originality - just lotsa feeling and unforgettable power. There are some very strong claims for originality in this act. The first was the Twin Guitar approach from 1974 onwards. Many bands had two guitarists but Lizzy were the first to really effectively deploy them as 'twin leads' rather than the rhythm player and the lead player, and while plenty of bands have done this since, none have captured a unique and distinctive style and tone in the way they did it. The second would be the ingenious way that the melded hard rock and Irish folk music. Irish folk music is much better understood and aprpeciated now, but in the 70s and 80s it was a joke! No serious musician would look to damage their credibility by going anywhere near it. It was the realm of the Fureys and Daniel O'Donnell - records your Granny might like to get for Christmas. Thin Lizzy broke through with a brave take on Whiskey in the Jar, which dispenses withthe musical accents and original iggy feel to great effect - and has become the standard way to perform the song. It really took off, however, in tunes like Roisin Dubh and emerald, where violin and tin whistle style melodies are performed by the harmory distorted guitars and made into something unique and truly magical. Also, you did criticise the lack of strong melody in the songs, but I would suggest that the harmony guitar format and the strong melodic sections for the guitars is a deliberate counterpoint to offset the more simple melodies of the vocal parts which were limited by Phil Lynott,s relatively small range (he's a brillinatly distinctive singer with a great rock tone and he made the most of those assets within the limitations). I believe the melodies arranged for Guitar in their material is generally very strong, and often highly original and memorable. Finally, given how you have raved about many of the songs in your individual album reviews, I think your intro perhaps undersells Lynott as a songwriter as well. You have described his strengths very well, but an additional one is his very clever and consistent use of internal rhyming patterns (where several words in a single line rhyme with each other - see 'With Love' on Black Rose as a good example). Again this is a good example of Lynotts individuality and innovation as no-one else has really made that a major part of their style in the way he did. ...and going back to the context, I think there is a case for looking at his lyrical output alone and putting him in the Irish Literary tradition alongside people like Brendan Behan. Had rock music never existed, his best lyrics would easily stand alone as an impressive folio of contemporary poetry - I don't think too many of the lyricists you have rated more highly could say the same (but obviously that's not the criteria you are using to rate them!!!)
Diversity: 1/5. Never a real factor worth consideration for these guys. I must also disagree with this assessment. From Ballads to blues to rock with a few jazz excursions (Fats, Dancing in the moonlight) and some funky pieces (Black Boys on the Corner) there is a broad range of styles across most Lizzy albums and certainly across their career. Moreover, everytime there was a change of guitarists, the melodic style, arrangement style and overall feel changed quite a bit as well. Take the double picking modal frenzy of John Sykes, through Gary Moore's Blues and modern classical influences, to the Irish melodies mentioned before through to the subtle distinction in styles between Gorham and Robertson when soloing in the same song, and there is a huge diversity there. If you throw in Phil Lynott's two solo albums (effectively Lizzy albums because of Brian Downey's constant involvement) then you have 4 vinyl slabs of experimental pop to consider too... Having said all that - I'm enjoying your site. Thanks for the effort you have put in!
No reader comments yet.
Teimuraz Mtibelashvili <temower@Netra.ainova.sk> (03.05.2002)
This album is very underrated, but mainly by those who put it aside after couple of listenings as it tends to grow on a listener. It's like a real gem that reveals itself to you once your eyes (ears) are ready to see (hear). There is a trilogy on the album made of "Buffalo Gal", "Brought Down" and "Shades of Blue Orphanage" that defines its direction and overall feel. The title track - Phil managed to capture all of the ephemeral pain/sorrow/melancholy that floods you when you look back at your childhood. Suffice to say this is the song where the power of time is evident to the artist to such an extent that he can even draw you in his pool of emotions, which are actually yours as well! And then there is "Buffalo Gal" with its clever guitar/bass interplay. You know the feeling of "everyone I ever loved I'll love till I die"? You love someone but the passion is gone - "you're thirsty and there's no more water". Phil was mature enough at 22 to reflex very intricate moves within ones soul.
Mark Blakemore <MarkBlakemore@hotmail.com> (21.02.2001)
I think I'm in agreement on this one.....a great album highlighting all the strengths of the early Thin Lizzy line-up - and more inventive than their later more famous incarnations.
I think Thin Lizzy may be my favourite heavy rock band. I also think that they are one of the few bands that have forged a consistent blend of melodic hard-hitting power rock and 'head-nodding' funk (along with earlier incarnations of George Clinton's Funkadelic group from roughly the same period of time) without sounding like one of these music forms have been tagged on to the other in a contrived manner. For this reason I think they were ahead of their time - predicting the money-spinning formula of 80's rock - i.e. heavy music that kids could dance too. Fortunately Thin lizzy never became anything quite as awful as 'Gun's and Roses' or late period Aerosmith.
Key to the sound is the rhythmically inventive playing of Phil and Brian Downey who do lock into some tight yet inventive patterns throughout the first 3 Lizzy albums. Phil is a fantastic bass player who appears to have been influenced by R n B players, such as Bootsie Collins, as much as power trio players such as Jack Bruce. Guitarist Bell then has pretty much a free reign to either double up Phil's Basslines (like a funkier Cream) or solo and noodle with his bluesy tone. I think that Phil Lynott also has pretty good vocal chops - effective on the ballad 'Little girl in Bloom' or growling through rock rave-up 'The Rocker'.
I Iike all three of their earlier albums yet Vagabonds is more consistent and just shades it. However in the UK there are plenty of budget compilations that focus on this less well known material - collecting the best material of the three albums.
Karl and Tamara Cuthbert <email@example.com> (20.06.2001)
l love 'the rocker' and 'whiskey in a jar', only songs from this era I have, from dedication
you sold me and I am gonna test drive it
type my thoughts later
Martin Corcoran <firstname.lastname@example.org> (12.10.2001)
The following was stated on your site in relation to "still in love with you"
'Why all the incessant guitar wanking when the solos are as generic as possible? Ugh.'
Gary Moore was the "guitar wanker" and you have one great sense of humor!
Very, very underrated LP. The only thing suffering on this effort was the production of Ron Nevison. He was too preoccupied with KISS to worry about Lizzy. Out of all the Lizzy albums, I wanted THIS ONE remastered the worst because there was alot more going on, but the thin production killed it. And by the way, BB King did the title track on his Dueces Wild CD!
peejaydee <email@example.com> (26.02.2003)
The track "for those who love to live" is about the soccer player George Best ,a brilliant football player of the late sixties,early seventies who played for Manchester United and Northern Ireland but who loved a drink,the night life and the adulation of the female sex and eventually frittered away his career into the oblivion of an alcoholic
Rogier Ensing <firstname.lastname@example.org> (05.12.2000)
Jailbreak rocks. My favorite song is "Cowboy Song". It starts rather lame, but ends up to be a nice rock song with one of the most passionate guitar solo's (I like those very much) I've ever heard. Quite the same goes for "'Romeo And The Lonely Girl" (Poor Romeo, sittin' all on his own-ee-oo; if words don't rhyme, make up your own words, cool!). Number three is the aggressive "Warrior", a tough song with a coldhearted killer-riff! In fourth place we find "Jailbreak", a wild song, which makes me think of a few teenagers who are off to do something they shouldn't do. "Emerald" sounds a bit to earnest for the general atmosphere which this album seems to blow into my room when I'm listening to it, nevertheless I like it just as much as jailbreak. "The Boys Are Back In Town" is -compared to the previous songs I mentioned- rather silly, in my humble opinion. "Running Back" is a nice song, but I don't like the rather pathetic attitude of the singer, it makes me sick. I can't remember the title of the second track, but that's because it didn't impress me. "Fight or Fall" is touching, but also funny: all those vocals at the end of the song sound cool. All in all a pretty respectable rock album and one my favorites.
Jose Pravia <email@example.com> (27.01.2001)
I agree with you that Vagabonds of the western world is very underappreciated. I don't agree that Jailbreak is overrated but that's because I really dig this album Bad Reputation kicks ass, especially "Oh, Lord". I didn't find Fighting all that hot.
"The boys are back in town" does sound very generic at first. I have a friend who has got a great ear for rock and roll and who has heard tons of stuff who also thinks the song is some kind of the run of the mill mid-seventies schlock. But believe me that there are many music lovers out there (not just Thin lizzy fanatics) who consider the song amazing. I probably won't convince you that the song is great just by writing some words here but perhaps I can give you some insight as to why some of us swear by it.
1) It's got an anthemic epic POWERFUL opening. I know that these are just supposed to be power chords borrowed from The Who. I love the Who just as much as anybody else but these are not just run of the mill Who chords. The way the chords bash one after another create a grand cinematic intro of some sort. I also love the bass walking in between each power strum.
2) The lyrics and especially the way Phil Lynott delivers them throughout the verses. It's the same storytelling approach used by many singer-songwriters, but whereas most singer-songwriters are overly sentimental, Phil Lynott is just plain cocky! When Lynott starts rapping I'm reminded much of Rod Stewart's entrance on "Maggie Mae". It's a very laid back but forceful style. it's very mesmerizing.
How can you not dig lines like:
"You know that chick that used to dance a lot/Every night she'd be on the floor shaking what she'd got/Man when I tell you she was cool, she was red hot/I mean she was steaming..."
Or how about...
"Friday night they'll be dressed to kill/Down at Dino's bar and grill/The drink will flow and blood will spill/If the boys want to fight, you'd better let them"
If any other hard rock band recited similar lines you would be reminded of the so-called style of "cock rock". But Phil elevates it far beyond that. He really gets into the song, and he teases you throughout with his trademark irish drawl.
3) In the middle of the song, right around the time the second chorus comes along, the twin guitar attack of Robertson and Gorham combined with Brian Downney's drumming produces a sizzling effect.
4) I agree that listening to the chorus alone would not have the desired effect. The melody in the chorus is very good in my opinion but I can see why some people would be put off by the various echoes where the line "the boys are back in town" gets repeated several times. Usually I'm so entranced by the whole thing that I don't mind this minor point. This is certainly not a song that can be judged by it's chorus alone.
Many critics have compared Phil Lynott to Bruce Springsteen, and this song in particular to songs such as "Born tu run". the analogies are clear. They both celebrate working class values. Both "The boys are back in town" and "born to run" have an cinematic epic feel to them. The thing is that I cannot stand "born to run". Springsteen's yelling annoys the hell out of me, and those stupid jingling bells throughout the song sound really corny. To me Phil Lynott is closer to Rod Stewart or Van Morrison. Critic Chuck Eddy agrees with me, so I can't be that crazy.
Many critics have compared Phil Lynott to Bruce Springsteen, and this song in particular to songs such as "Born tu run". the analogies are clear. They both celebrate working class values. Both "The boys are back in town" and "born to run" have an cinematic epic feel to them. The thing is that I cannot stand "born to run". Springsteen's yelling annoys the hell out of me, and those stupid jingling bells throughout the song sound really corny.
To me Phil Lynott is closer to Rod Stewart or Van Morrison. Critic Chuck Eddy agrees with me, so I can't be that crazy.
Tim Blake <Tim.Blake@stats.govt.nz> (18.07.2006)
Vagabonds Of The Western World seems like a decent album, but it does feel quite confused and underdeveloped. The riffs usually seem quite unmemorable and the songs tend to drag, and the production is very thin. Seems like a quite primitive (not in a good way) version of Thin Lizzy. I only mention this because I can't understand how it could possibly be their best album, whereas Jailbreak makes an extremely strong case. For starters the production is massive. Next up the riffs are huge, and if not that, very memorable and tuneful. The album has a strong pop streak while retaining powerful, crunching hard rock moments. In general your review was ok but it almost seemed at the end you were saying that just because it is a 'typical' hard rock album it has no choice but to be flawed. It seems hypocritical to single out hard rock as having to be flawed but letting others like punk and new wave go. It's not the genre, it's what you do with it, and this is a near immaculate record.
I also think that 'Emerald' is by far the best song (including the opening...farkin' epic!), and that the 'OooOoo poor Romeo, left all on his owneooo' is endearing, not lame, but I could picture seeing the other view on that. Personally I love that line, and that's possibly my favourite song (but hay, Emerald is...'the best', if ya get me). The weak points come with the limp 'Running Back', and boring 'Fight Or Fall', but Vagabonds has many more superfluous moments than this one. Everything is bigger and better, the lyrics, the song-writing, and especially the guitars (the riffs!). The majority of the songs on Vagabonds had somewhat strangely atonal melodic-less riffs, and they didn't do much for me. But I don't intend to bash that album, I like it, but it seems underdeveloped. I also like Bad Reputation a lot but I can't say it is quite as good as Jailbreak. A total classic of hard rock and none too flawed.
Karl and Tamara Cuthbert <firstname.lastname@example.org> (20.06.2001)
Johnny is a weaker album.
material just too much of a rehash of previous goodies
he should have recovered from his hep a little longer
they put out too much material an album every year and should have been more selective on their material to release
still, there is just something about Lizzy that just catches you and won't let go
Jean-Fabien Ducrocq <email@example.com> (13.11.2002)
Johnny the Fox is my favourite Lizzy album There is no bad track on this album. I have read somewhere that "fool's gold" and "old flame" among others where weak songs. The persons that are considering the album as weaker than its predecessor don't have understood the general mood of the album: Sick. Borderline. Frightening. Emotional.
"Fools gold" While the song is playing, i see some far west images, the night is falling, it's raining on the red ground, An old man is digging in the ground, in search of such a fool's g...
"Old flame" It's a song that i can't hear because it fragilizes my mind for the whole day. The subject, the great melancholy and nostalgy of the general theme and the solo cause me an intense emotion.
"Borderline" A sad man is trying to forget the pain that has just awaked in his heart, the alkohol is calming the suffering for a moment, he can look around a little less frightened, he realize he is on the threshold of becoming insane.
I discovered the album in summer of 93. I remember the whole day became bizzarre, oppressing, since the first seconds of "Johnny". The whole album is borderline. It reflects a sort of sickness of the mind. A weakness in the ability to find happyness. The different atmospheres that you can hear in the album are all frightening. Extremely serious, except a few numbers (johnny the fox meets jimmy the weed).
My knowledge of your language is limited. I fear that i cannot defend this album as i woud want. It's sad because I am it's greatest fan in the world. I have lived an unforgetable experience with it, some 9 years ago.
This album has touched my being where it hurts. At a personal level, the experience revealed me the sensibility i had forgot and that was in me since my birth.
I place the album at the same level that The lambs ... of Genesis, Fugazi of Marillion, Faith of The Cure (Robert Smith played "Dont Believe A Word" on a TV show this year).
Dave Carter <Dave_Carter@csgsystems.com> (20.01.2004)
Jailbreak introduced me to Thin Lizzy. Great dual guitars, fantastic 'warrior' imagery, mean atmosphere. That album just made you want to got out and look for a fight. Johnny The Fox goes in a slightly different direction. Same great guitars, same great Phil voice, still lean and mean. But it lacks a single 'theme' or image. It takes you to the inner city ('Johnny The Fox'), back in time ('Massacre'), on stage ('Rocky'), and into a seedy bar ('Borderline'). Then it goes sloppy sentimental ('Old Flame', 'Sweet Marie') and then adds on some decent rockers ('Don't Believe A Word', 'Boogie Woogie Dance'). Not a bad song in the bunch.
Karl and Tamara Cuthbert <firstname.lastname@example.org> (20.06.2001)
stronger in my opinion than Johnny, and I do agree, 'Dear God' is the best tune
-this song seems too genuine
Splendid album!!! Ahh, the opening track, 'Soldier of Fortune', in all it's harmony guitar splendor is fantastic. Supposedly Robbo was limited to a few tracks on this album but as I read an interview with him, he's on more tracks than they led you to believe. Though I love JTF this album to me is Phil and the boys at the top of their game. This was Phil starting to let the outside world in on his extra curricular activities, Opium Trail & Bad Reputation, and his cries for help in Dear Lord. Fav track is "That Women's Gonna Break Your Heart," which takes me back to an "Old Flame" in high school!!! Just a nice chunk of the Lizzymobile in all it's hard rock glory!
David Carter <email@example.com> (15.01.2004)
When I had the album, I wished that they would have put the hard songs ('Soldier of Fortune', 'Bad Reputation', 'Opium Trail', 'Killer Without A Cause') on Side A and the soft songs ('Southbound', 'Dancing In The Moonlight', 'That Woman's Gonna Break Your Heart', 'Downtown Sundown', 'Dear Lord') on Side B. Then I could have had 2 Thin Lizzy albums. Because that is how I always viewed this album. The Side A album would have been out on party nights and the Side B album could have been for studying. They both had distinctively different atmospheres. The hard songs were edgy, mean, and kick ass! The soft songs were catchy, soothing, and terrific. They just shouldn't be mixed up.
'Soldier of Fortune' - This song does radical tempo changes once too often. It is my least favorite of the hard songs. The lyrics are anti-war from the mercenary point of view.
'Bad Reputation' - This is my favorite Thin Lizzy song of all. The lyrics, tempo, bass line, and guitar are perfect!! I love how the bass and drums alternate who dictates the tempo. I never get sick of this song. The lyrics get you in a nasty mood.
'Opium Trail' - This song is about drug use and drug trafficking. Great symbology in the lyrics. The slight echo in the vocals adds to the eeriness. I love how Phil harmonizes with himself. Again, Robbo does the meaner guitar licks. I recommend this one!
'Southbound Again' - A lot of people like this song. I don't. The story told is interesting though.
'Dancing In The Moonlight' - Nice catchy song. Since I am a big Bass Guitar fan, I like this song. The saxophone is a nice touch. But the guitar work is better.
'Killer Without A Cause' - I really don't know what this song is about, but I like it! It has very interesting tempo changes. It is another nasty Thin Lizzy song.
'Downtown Sundown' - I like slow Thin Lizzy songs. Phil has a great voice for ballads. This song is very soothing. Once again, great guitar work.
'That Woman's Gonna Break Your Heart' - This song is so out of place in this album. I like it but I don't know why. Some days it is irritating and other days it fits right in.
'Dear Lord' - Great Intro!!! As a kid, I hated this song. It sounded preachy. Later in life when I found out Phil was such a drug addict and obviously suffered from LSS (Lead Singer Syndrome), I can appreciate the honesty.
Out of all the Thin Lizzy albums, I ALWAYS come back to Bad Rep. I bought the album at the Clemson University bookstore my freshman year in '77. Needless to say I still have that album to this day. I bought the remastered CD about a year ago and have frankly worn it out. This album has so much "stuff" on it that everytime I listen to it I hear something new. Yes, at this time Robbo and Phil were sick of each other, but this is a good album! Really, I don't know where to begin! Soldier of Fortune is so fresh that it sounded as if it recorded yesterday, hell, the whole album sounds like that! Southbound is my favorite track, it's almost as if Phil is taking you back to a time and place where everyone has gone or will go. What really got me was Phil's bass playing, by this time Phil was in true form, a mean bass player, he shines on this effort. Scott Gorham has some of his best guitar work, just check out the title track and Brian Downey with that gong...wow! Robbo also was great, check out the wah-wah work on 'Opium Trail' and 'Killer Without A Cause'. Last but not least, Tony Visconti produced a masterpiece, if only he had stuck around after Black Rose! Eventhough the album did better overseas than in America, I know alot of people ask me who's that when I play this CD. I say Thin Lizzy and they say Oh!? This album has and always will stand the test of time. Eventhough this was Robbo's last studio album with Lizzy, it's a classic!
Dave Carter <firstname.lastname@example.org> (14.11.2000)
It was a good album, but not as 'Live' as you think. I read an article from the sound engineer and it stated that the entire album was overdubbed in the studio. Most of the 'Live' material was scrapped. The engineer said it was the worst live crap he had every heard, and even Phil agreed. So what you are hearing is another 'studio' version, complete with studio effects that mimic crowd noise, echo, etc..
Aidan Wylde <email@example.com> (15.01.2001)
I'm Irish and I grew up listening to Thin Lizzy. I lionized them in the way you might have lionized a fine Russian rock band as a teenager (or even preteen I think) -- even if they weren't the very best, you might sorta have felt they were.
I never did really like Live and Dangerous, though. I just felt there was something not quite right about it. I've never gone back and listened to it as an adult, so my opinion might be a little different now. It does have a good tracklist.
Despite my personal reservations about this album, I was surprised by the comments on your site from Dave Carter:
So I looked for the remarks. They're by Tony Visconti, from his very interesting website, but they're not really negative. It appears that the band began doing studio overdubs on some vocal parts, and gradually overdubbed more and more when they saw that they could. He certainly does not say that 'it was the worst live crap he ever heard.'
Here are the links, as I had a little trouble finding the info on Tony Visconti's interesting site:
As opposed to all the reviews and maybe truths that this was not a live album, still their best album if looked at as a middle period (BEST Period) greatest hits package. This was the first Lizzy album I bought in the fall of 78. LIZZYFAN since!!!
The way I heard it, it's about 75% the original live recordings and 25% overdubs. No matter ... it's by far their best record, and unless you're a serious fan it's the only one you really need - OK, so there are some good songs on their next album or two, but their best studio work was nearly all behind them and most of the songs here are better than the studio versions - with the possible exception of "The Rocker", which does lack Eric Bell. I'm with you on the songs that could have been left off, except "Still In Love With You", which is a fine ballad (in this version at least) and features a lovely guitar solo - who cares whether it was overdubbed or not. If you want one Thin Lizzy record, better to get this than a compilation.
Nicholas Rogerson <firstname.lastname@example.org> (27.01.2004)
This is an outstanding live album and has quickly become a fvaourite of mine along with Live At Leeds, Allmans Live At The Fillmore and Free Live!
What makes this such an effective performance, is that Lizzy resist from going into jams, prefering rather to keep the songs short. The songs are so powerful that you are left gasping as each one comes and goes so fast. Tight is the best word to describe the performance. Lynott is superb on the bass and Downey on drums makes sure the rhythm section is never too loose. The two guitarists are just so good at predicting what the other one is going to do. The solos are some of the best I've heard, and again, like they songs, they are so effective because they aren't long and don't lose their way.
Quite simply, this album deserves to be owned by all serious hard rock fans, and those, like me, who have are rather sceptical of the hard rock era of the 70s. A lot the music from this era (Queen, Aerosmith etc.) is dispensable. This album is not, because it doesn't indulge in the hard rock/cock rock tendancies of self indulgent solos, songs lengths etc. This album stands tall because it delivers mightily on the performance front. It is stripped down to the bare bones and succeeds thoroughly.
Never mind all of the controversy surrounding this LP, this is frankly the GREATEST live album of all time. Whereas alot of the music from this time period sounds stale and dated, this album has stood up as a shining example of a band clicking on ALL cylinders. Lizzy at this point had all the pieces in place on L & D and with Tony Visconti producing, you know this was something special. Pick any cut, they all shine on this one. My fav is...ALL OF THEM!! It's so hard to pick one.
Everything about this album, from the packaging to the choice of songs was on point. The boys were at their nastiest on this LP, they were determined to let people know what Lizzy was about, they smashed it and then some. Classic Rock Magazine voted this as the Greatest live Rock album of all time, a true testament to a band that has stood the test of time!
Karl and Tamara Cuthbert <email@example.com> (20.06.2001)
'Sarah' brings tears to my eyes
reminds me of my kids
too bad that he was too fucked up at this point to get beyond the cock and rock to kick the drugs and booze
it is nice to see a softer inside of a "tough" rock n roll Irish man
Warren Mendonsa <firstname.lastname@example.org> (15.06.2001)
chinatown was the first lizzy album i had.... hand me down from my uncle. it rocks from start to finish, only song i didn't like was 'genocide'.
Karl and Tamara Cuthbert <email@example.com> (20.06.2001)
I really like this record, my favourite is 'having a Good Time', only critisism is on this song, when he asks Brian to give it to me one more time, ie smashing drums, it wimps out with some guitar, what were the producers thinking? still a very good record, and Snowy does help the band
THIS IS THE ONLY ALBUM/CD THAT I OWN FROM THIN LIZZY, WHERE IT CAME FROM I DON'T KNOW, I REMEMBER PLAYING IT MORE AND MORE AND MORE UNTIL IT BECAME ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITES. I JUST GOT THE REMASTERED CD ON METAL BLADE,AND THE SOUND IS PERFECT. THE DRUMS ON THE TITLE CUT ARE ALWAYS GUARANTEED TO GET YOU ROCKING..THE WHOLE ALBUM IS,AS YOU SAID.A PLEASANT SURPRISE.RIP PHIL LYNOTT.
Jeff Melchior <Jeffmoncheri@aol.com> (18.02.2001)
Actually, I had never heard anyone say that Renegade is Thin Lizzy's weakest album. In fact, among fans, it's considered one of their high points. (Well, among critics, it's usually considered the opposite. Never seen a positive review - G.S.). It is fairly dark, though, even by Lynott's increasingly dark standards, so that may have something to do with it. Whatever - I like it - worth it for 'Angel of Death' alone. There are moments that kind of bore me ('Fats', for instance) but I've yet to hear a Lizzy album that wasn't a little slow in parts. The inspirational moments more than make up for them, however.
Karl and Tamara Cuthbert <firstname.lastname@example.org> (20.06.2001)
about the 4th Lizzy record I purchased
I like is from beginning to end
I think that 'Fats' is a great diversion from some of the previous Lizzy catalogue
I like the gravel and thorns in Phil's voice
Another tune not mentioned in your review is 'Mexican Blood', catchy and I just thoroughly enjoy it when Phil growls out, "and he drank a little tequilla" cheesey lines, but I do like Cheez Whiz on my soda biscuits this record is definitley one to get for any Lizzy fan who can get beyond 'the Boys', 'the Rocker', 'Rosalie' and 'Jailbreak'
Critics howled at this album when it came out in '82, but then these same 'critics' were praising bands like Men At Work and Flock of Seagulls...so, where are those bands now!? Frankly, Renegade is an album that was so different for Lizzy that it's hard to put it in any catageory. Frankly, I loved the album, but it took a while to warm up to it. Even now, I have to get used to this album, because it was a significant departure from Black Rose and Chinatown. The title track, Renegade, is a classic, one of Lizzy's best songs. "Mexican Blood" was also very interesting as well as 'The Pressure Will Blow' and 'Fats'. This may or may not be one of LIzzy's finest efforts, but it sure beats the crap out of what was 'popular' at the time.
John Janis <email@example.com> (08.12.2001)
I agree with you on most counts.This album is very underrated.It is heavy by Thin Lizzy standards but it isnt that heavy.Personally it is my favourite album of theirs.My favourite is 'Bad habits' too but you never mentioned 'This is the one' and that is a great song.Funny thing is that one never gets mentioned for some reason.