January 31, 2023

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Thin Lizzy ‘Live and Dangerous’ Boxed Set: Album Review

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Even in the freewheeling 1970s, Thin Lizzy were a completely unique rock band – and not just because they were fronted by a huge, half-Irish/half-Brazilian singer-bassist, the late Phil Lynott. A mesmerizing frontman and uncommonly gifted singer and songwriter, his soulful voice, melodic flair and vivid storytelling were rare for a thunderous ’70s-style hard rock band led by a twin-lead-guitar attack. Their defining trademark, such as their biggest hit, 1976’s breakthrough summer song, “The Boys Are Back in Town.”

But for all their talent, promise and success, the group was plagued with problems throughout their career, including an almost comically unstable second-guitarist slot – which changed. six times Over the years – and, most notably, Lynott’s debilitating heroin addiction, which led to inconsistent material and performances and played no small part in his death in 1986 aged just 36.

Still Thin Lizzy was one of the strongest rock bands of their era, and their 1978 double-live set “Live and Dangerous” is widely regarded as one of the best of its kind, even though many of the hard-touring band’s songs were played at the time. It does not include album records over an 18-month period. Anyone who’s ever experienced Small Change will be satisfied in supreme fashion by this gloriously expanded 8-CD boxed set, which combines a remastered version with the original album. seven Complete concerts were recorded for it between November 1976 and March 1978, when the band was at the peak of its powers.

This set should also dispel rumors that “Live and Dangerous” featured extensive overdubs, a complaint producer Tony Visconti has always denied: Lizzy is in explosive form at every gig presented here, bringing a vibrancy and fluidity that was sometimes missing from studio versions of this song. The band’s best-ever lineup is at the top: guitarists Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson shine on every song, providing melodic leads, while drummer Brian Downey is a powerhouse with the ability to swing both thunderous, double-bass-drums. driven beat (and since those members were American, Scottish, and Irish, respectively, they brought their own influences to the band.)

That diversity is reflected in Lizzie’s rare ability to fit into multiple music scenes: Although technically a hard rock band, they opened for countless ’70s arena acts from Queen to Journey, but were also revered by the first wave of British punk rock — Lynott two Sex Pistols formed a side project called the Griddys – and were an icon of the late ’70s “new wave of British heavy metal” although they were hardly a stereotypical metal band. And not least, they paved the way for that other world-beating Irish band, U2.

But what stands out the most here is how great Lizzie’s songs were. Although mostly a hard rock band, Lynott’s soulful vocals have always set them apart, and he brings with him influences from traditional Irish music as well as contemporaries such as Van Morrison and Bruce Springsteen (notably on “Dancing in the Moonlight”, which is a reference to the former’s “Moondance”). owes a lot to), and he could also write soulful ballads like “Still in Love With You,” which are too beautiful and loving to be covered by Sade decades later. And while his lyrics were maddeningly incoherent — for every rousing song like “Johnny” or “Fool’s Gold” there were plenty of dashed-off, sexist and rocker clichés — he also had the rare ability to bring the listener into the song: “ The Boys Are Back In Town ” almost literally does the line, “They were asking if you were around/ where you were, where to find you.” Of the countless second-person songs in rock history, it’s rare to invite the listener into the song in such a casual, conversational, and permissive way. You, The audience, not just cool enough to ask questions from the guys from the back town, they want to hang out with you.

Unfortunately, it was all downhill from this peak, at least creatively. Robertson left for good a few months after the final dates recorded here, and the band never recaptured the chemistry of this lineup. Lizzie split for 1983, and although Lynott released a series of solo records, addiction overtook him and he died less than three years later. A statue of him in Dublin, unveiled in 2005, is a major tourist attraction.

Yes, seven concerts is a lot by anyone, and not surprisingly for shows recorded over just 18 months, there are a lot of repeats. But this is the best kind of boxed set: one you can come back to Nearly 50 years later, Lizzie has never sounded better.

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