It’s nearly impossible to get your head around the magnetism that Irish rockers Thin Lizzy retain nearly a quarter century after the band’s founder and mastermind, Phil Lynott, died as a result of herion abuse.
I’ve always been one of those drawn to it myself and have never been able to put my finger on it. But consider that everyone from Bob Geldoff, to a young Bono, to Van Morrison attended Lynott’s funeral in 1986, and that there’s a bronze statue of Lynott standing in the heart of Dublin today.
Then there’s the fan base, loyal to this day. And Lynott seemed to inspire loyalty, enough so that even as the band has continued to play with different front men over the years, Lynott’s family and former bandmates have always made it clear it was more of a tribute than a frail attempt to replace him.
Then, just to bring the point home last year, they released the first Thin Lizzy album in decades.
And that’s why we’re here today.
‘Still Dangerous’ was Thin Lizzy’s first release since the bassist/singer/songwriter died – aside from a seemingly countless number of ‘best of’ collections.
It was a project spearheaded by Lynott’s mother, Philomena, and a number of his former bandmates, including former longtime Lizzy guitarist Scott Gorham, longtime friend and guitar player Gary Moore, Lizzy drummer and co-founder Brian Downey, and guitar player Brian Robertson.
Such was the loyalty that Lynott inspired, all these years later. So what of the album?
‘Still Dangerous’ is a collection of live recordings from Lizzy’s 1977 world tour, the same shows that spawned their 1978 release, ‘Live and Dangerous’ – considered by hard rock insiders as one of the greatest live albums of the era.
The tour was significant for a variety of reasons. It followed the band’s 1977 release, ‘Bad Reputation,’ which included the hit “Dancing in the Moonlight.” And ‘Bad Reputation’ was released the year after ‘Jailbreak,’ the album that put Lizzy on the world map with ‘Boys Are Back In Town.’
(The album Lizzy released between those two, ‘Johnny the Fox,’ is unfairly overlooked. In fact, I forgot it myself in the first draft of this post. It, however, includes the tune ‘Don’t Believe a Word,’ a live staple for the band.)
Most importantly, it was the last tour the band did with the guitar duo of Gorham and Robertson. It was the innovative Gorham/Robertson guitar harmonies that propelled Lizzy to a rock fame that they never fully recaptured after Robertson departed.
Think of the guitar chorus from “Boys Are Back In Town” and you’ll figure out what I mean.
So for Lizzy fanatics ‘Still Dangerous’ is noteworthy for the era it captures. It’s also billed as a stripped-down version of ‘Live and Dangerous’ – there are no overdubs on this one. It’s all from the sound board. And it’s also abridged – there are 10 cuts on ‘Still Dangerous’ compared to the 17 cuts from ‘Live and Dangerous.’
But ‘Still Dangerous’ has some gems, including previously unreleased live versions of “Me And The Boys” and two cuts from the ‘Bad Reputation’ album: “Opium Trail” and “Soldier of Fortune,” one of the best examples of Lizzy’s dual-guitar harmonies.
There are also new live mixes of Lizzy classics like ‘Boys Are Back In Town” and “Dancing In The Moonlight,” as well as a new on-stage version of the band’s best least-known tune, “Cowboy Song.”
So, is this album solely for Thin Lizzy insiders? Perhaps.
But ‘Still Dangerous’ does put on display the band’s unique recipe for success. Namely Lynott’s songwriting, which was largely inspired by traditional Irish folk music, coupled with lyrics drawn from his own poetry. Then there are those guitar harmonies.
Maybe it’s enough to win converts all these years later.
Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jfitzgibbon