CD Review: Thin Lizzy – Still Dangerous: Live at The Tower Theatre Philadelphia 1977 (VH1 Classic Records)

Keep your eyes peeled for leprechauns and their pots of gold as it’s St. Paddy’s Day this week and everyone’s Irish! The green beer (and green puke) will flow like a river all week as people cast off gloomy thoughts of the economic meltdown caused by the greedy bastards at the banks and on Wall Street, who were aided and abetted by George Bush’s inept leadership and his clandestine ties to Halliburton and Big Oil. Can you tell I am a little angry? Well, let’s just keep this little review here based around music and though I feel like fighting as much as any Irishman around this time of year due to reasons I’ve mentioned above (and also inebriation), the best thing to do is to grab some music by one of Ireland’s best rock bands and rock out with your Shamrock out!. And, hey, before you can say Bono, it’s not those U2 wankers I am talking about. It’s the original Irish rock band: hard rockers Thin Lizzy who have just released a new live album recorded back in 1977 featuring an unreleased performance from a time when the band was at the top of its’ game.

While most probably consider the Irish rock band Thin Lizzy a one-hit wonder due to their only hit The Boys Are Back In Town from their best-selling album Jailbreak (the title song was also a FM staple for quite a few years) the band had quite a long career, lasting from the late ’60’s (they released their self-titled debut in 1971) to the early ’80’s with the band’s final release being Thunder and Lightning in 1983. Formed and led by singer/songwriter/ bassist Phil Lynott, the band distinguished itself from the rock and roll brethren by combining Lynott’s slice-of-life, workingman’s lyrics with a distinctive twin lead guitar attack, of which all solos were played in unison by the band’s two lead guitar players. Another major difference between Thin Lizzy and other hard rock bands is that Lynott happened to be black. Interestingly, that fact was never really dwelt upon by the rock press and the band’s fans as Thin Lizzy rocked so hard as to make as superficial differences as race moot. Unfortunately, Lynott’s untimely death in 1986 sealed the band’s fate for good, though some members have taken to reforming the band now and again for nostalgia purposes to comparatively little fanfare.

This set is simply killer and serves as sort of companion piece to the live album they did release officially in 1977, Live and Dangerous. Originally criticized for having their performances “enhanced” by studio whiz and Live and Dangerous producer Tony Visconti (If you listen to the album, you’ll know why as the band simply sounds TOO incredible for the album to have been recorded live. I mean, the electricity literally crackles with hyper energy and ferocious rock and roll.) this set should answer many of the questions brought up about that first live album. The main difference between the two is that Thin Lizzy’s first live album was a compilation of different songs recorded at various cities during their tour and this album was recorded at one show. But, interestingly, that would be the only real difference between the two albums. Seems there was little studio wizardry added to the first album after all as this album has the same incredible energy and incendiary performances. Recorded at a show towards the tail end of the same tour that produced the first live album, the band simply sounds incredible, giving rockers like Boys and Jailbreak an incredible amount of energy while playing masterful versions of Cowboy Song and Opium Trail. While seven songs appear on both albums, the sheer power of the rock and roll contained on both of them should be worth the expense of having them both. I mean, I only have this new one in my collection but I have the heard the other and I am going to track it down as I now have to own it.

Though Thin Lizzy is gone, they should never be forgotten as not only was the band one of the better hard rock bands of the ’70’s but they paved the way for the rest of the Irish rock bands to follow. Lynott and company were truly one of rock’s best acts despite their negligible chart successes and this live document reminds us that when the band was on (as they are at this show and on this recording) they simply could not be bested.