THIN LIZZY week starts now!
Tonight, apropos of nothing in particular, I'm beginning a weeklong series of posts about legendary classic rockers THIN LIZZY. Lizzy has always been one of those bands that gets pigeonholed in the category of hard rock. While they covered a whole range of songs, from rockers to ballads and even hints of folk (their version of the Irish folk song "Whiskey in the Jar" was a minor hit for them in America), they seem to have been gradually written off in the years since they broke up and lead singer/bassist Phil Lynott died at the age of 35.
I didn't become a real fan of Thin Lizzy until a few years ago, when I caught their single "Jailbreak" in some movie on cable. I bought a copy of their hit album Jailbreak a few weeks later and fell in love with Lynott's Springsteen-esque songwriting and the band's innovative use of dual lead guitars. Around that same time, I made friends with a neighbor named Shane who was absolutely obsessed with the band. Soon I was taking in listenings of Johnny the Fox and Live and Dangerous. I was converted.
For the doubters out there, I hope this series of posts can help enlighten you a little and maybe steer you toward a band you may have only thought was a punchline a la Spinal Tap. By Saturday or Sunday, I'll have posted enough tracks for a do-it-yourself mix CD. Collect 'em all, put them on plastic and pop them in your car's CD player. Turn this shit up loud and hit the road. That's the only way to listen to Thin Lizzy.
"The Farmer": If I'm not mistaken, this was the band's first single, released on 7" in 1971. At the time, the band was just a trio, so that trademark dual guitar thing hadn't happened yet. Not sure who is playing piano here.
"Emerald": Now there is that double lead guitar thing I was talking about. These aren't just dual guitars; they're dueling guitars! Plus, you've got a song about Irish cities ablaze, dead in the streets and pirates and plunderers running amok. Even better than this is the live version of "Emerald" from the Live and Dangerous album. Cock rock at its finest.
"Black Boys on the Corner": Beyond Jimi Hendrix and maybe LOVE's Arthur Lee, there weren't a lot of black lead singers in the rock world in the late 60s and early 70s. Phil Lynott was one of those exceptions, and he often wrote songs from that kind of an outsider's perspective. "Black Boys" is easily one of my favorite Lizzy songs, from Lynott's howling vocals to that incredible off kilter guitar line that carries the verses. To steal a quote from an old Eddie Murphy movie, "That is a stone groove, my man!"
"Romeo and the Lonely Girl": Back when I discovered Jailbreak, this was the first song to jump out at me as being stylistically different than what I was expecting from Thin Lizzy. It's not exactly a ballad, but it's a sweet little song about a great looking guy who couldn't even trust his friends. I think the stretch of rhyming "Romeo" and "sittin' all on his own-e-oh" is a pretty adoreable stretch for a "hard rock" band.
"Little Girl in Bloom": I'm closing out tonight with one of Thin Lizzy's best ballads, a song told from the perspective of a young pregnant girl's fears about her secret and her world closing in on her. There's just something about the way this song starts, with the drone of feedback and the ominous bassline, that gets under your skin. If you can't get into this song, you're not going to get into Thin Lizzy.
Stay tuned this week for more Lizzy. Many thanks to my friend Mike for sourcing me some of the great material I'll be sharing with you.