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Wednesday, September 15, 2004


Known to most by their 1976 hit "The Boys Are Back In Town", Thin Lizzy delivered a brand of swaggering hard rock to audiences around the world during the seventies and early eighties. Following the release of 'Jailbreak", on which the fore-mentioned single appears, Lizzy was on the recieving end of a string of bad luck thet interrupted tours and combined to keep them from breaking in America. Their recorded output, however, leaves little to be desired. Hard Rock anthems, ballads, funky grooves, and the twin lead guitar attack for which they are still famous today helped establish a legend that still looms large in Europe. Their first hit came in 1972 when their management, looking for a hit to establish the fledgling band from Ireland, released the rocked up version of an old Irish folk song, "Whiskey In The Jar". The success of that single backfired on the band as they became associted with folk music instead of the Hard Rock they were concentrating on. Things got worse on New Year's Eve of 1973, when Eric Bell, the then lone guitarist in the band, fed up with the trappings of success, fell apart in a fit of drunkeness on stage. The next day he quit the band. Phil Lynott, singer, bass player, songwriter, and defacto leader of the band recruited Gary Moore, an old chum from Dublin, to fill in. Gary lasted a few months, before he too departed to start his jazz fusion band Colliseum. Determined not to be left without a guitarist again, Phil hired two guitarist; Scott Gorham (USA), and Brian Robertson (Scotland) to round out what would be the classic Lizzy lineup. Two albums came and went without much notice; 1974's 'Nightlife' and 1975's 'Fighting'. I love these albums, and recomend them highly, but it would be 'Jailbreak' that would set the standard. There is no weak song on 'Jailbreak'. Heavy riffs, jazzy grooves, and funky romps combine with the poetic and romantic lyricism delivered by Lynott's smokey sexy voice. This record is a must. 1976 also saw the release of 'Johnny The Fox', which features the same classic Lizzy fare, but fails to rise to the standard set by 'Jailbreak'. Lynott's bout with hepatitis and the record companies demand for product set the tone for this 'rushed' LP. Then Brian Robertson got in a bar fight and deeply gashed his hand on a broken bottle. Phil fired him and brought back Gary Moore to finish the Australian leg of the tour. Gary then left again as the three remaining Lizzy's returned to the studio with producer Tony Visconti (T.Rex, Bowie) for the sessions that would produce the 'Bad Reputation' LP. In the studio Scott Gorham did his best, but it was decided that Brian Robertson would be hired back on to finish the record and do the tour. 'Bad Reputation' is probably the most lavishly prodiced Lizzy record, and many consider it to be the LP that should have followed 'Jailbreak'. The live album 'Live And Dangerous' followed. Again produced by Visconti, 'Live and Dangerous' is considered by many to bethe best live record of all time. (I put it in the top five along with UFO, Kiss, Ted Nugent, and the Stones). Strapped for cash after self financing huge tours, it was in 1978 that Phil realized he could play shows for cash under a different name, and thus the 'Greedy Bastards' were born. Comprised of Lynott, Gorham, and member of the Sex Pistols and The Damned, the Greedy Bastards released a chritmas single; "A Meryy Jingle" and played numerous shows around England. It is generlly accepted that it was during this time that Lynott and Gorham started using heroin, which would in turn slowly kill Thin Lizzy. 1979's 'Black Rose' (Gary Moore is back) is another great album produced by Visconti, but it seemed the heyday of the band had come and gone. Successive releases, 1980's 'Chinatown' and 1982's 'Renegade' feature future Roger Waters sideman Snowy White replacing Moore. While there are killer tracks on these records, the demise of the band was eveident. In 1983 they gave it one last try, replacing White with virtuoso John Sykes, they released one of their best records; 'Thunder and Lightning'. How the hell they made this shredding metal record while sedated on dope is one of rock's enduring mysteries, but kick ass it did. So much so that their farewell tour lasted almost two years. In 1984 they went their seperate ways. Gorham cleaned up, Lynott did not, and sadly perished just after the new year in 1986. There has never been a band like Thin Lizzy, nor a frontman like Lynott. Their street gang mentality coupled with amazing skill combined to make a true legend of rock.

I saw them six times they were amazing
Ive never come close to the unifying feeling of a lizzy concert. It was truely spiritual perhaps an odd word to associate with hard rock but it was.
I miss them especially phil every day
he was the brother I never had.
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