Thin Lizzy

ARTICLE ABOUT Thin Lizzy FROM New Musical Express, May 22, 1976

Much has been said about Phil Lynott`s talent. Not undeserved as he even managed to get a postive review in NME. Not a lot of hard rock artists can brag about that.
So here goes. Enjoy!

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Every so often, NME is proud and privileged to present an ecstatic album review; here is one such…

Dizzy over Lizzy

Thin Lizzy: Jailbreak (Vertigo).

By Phil McNeill

Ever since Thin Lizzy followed up their sole hit, “Whisky In The Jar”, back in `73 (plugged remorselessly into the charts by good old Kid Jensen), with the ingenious “Randolph`s Tango”, it`s been obvious that Phil Lynott was something special.
After much chopping and changing, he established a permanent band in time for last year`s wondrous “Fighting” album, featuring one of the best singles of `75, “Wild One” – and now, after a year together, Thin Lizzy are possibly the best British band (i.e. the best band anywhere) since Free.
For a start, they`re a four-piece, which is slightly better than being a trio or a quintet in the perfection stakes. Secondly, it`s a guitar band – no messing pianos, mellotrons or saxes. And finally, all their material comes from one source within the band.
How I survived the past few years without the Quaife era Kinks, the Experience, Free or their equivalent is a mystery – as Lynott says in “Running Back”, “When they say it`s over, it`s not over: there`s still the pain,” and I`ve been wearing out “Highway” like a hole-in-the-heart victim gasping for oxygen. But at last I can lead a complete life again.
The problem is, how to get it across to you, dear reader.

No offence meant, but you might be one of the 10,000,000 people who tried to get tickets for the Stones, and how can I possibly prefer small fry like Lizzy to such superstars as Jagger (or Bowie or Elton, for that matter)?
Briefly, Lizzy communicate, an impossibility for an artist whose stage appearances are necessarily exercises in manipulation and whose records are inevitably straining for self-justification.
Deification equals death, and the sensitive artist either spurns it or is destroyed; only the narcissus survives. Fly away Jimi, fly away Paul – you can still dig The Kinks at the music hall.
So what moves in the grooves? To dispense with the formalities: the personalities are Brian Downey, Dubliner drummer, sturdily anonymous; Scott Gorham, Los Angelean guitarist, casually elegant; Brian Robertson, Glaswegian guitar slinger, sullenly deranged; and Lynott, Dubliner as in Joyce, singer-/bassist/writer, a street gangster with soul.
Onstage Downey`s playing wears an erratic air, Robertson`s seems dangerous, and Gorham`s fragile, but somehow it all comes off very neat, with Lynott the stabilising influence.
Naturally, this uncertainty doesn`t come over on record: they`re well-drilled, and everything, right down to the solos, is unerringly relevant to the song.
So at the risk of devaluing the other guys` contributions, “Jailbreak” is best looked at as totally Lynott`s conception, since there isn`t a single note that doesn`t appear deliberate and considered, with the meticulous precision of Free`s greatest achievements.

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Lynott`s brilliance is easiest expressed through his words, which superficially lean a little too heavily on images of violence, but which add up to a romantic vision of freedom through self-respect, earthy, poetic and very Irish.
This vision runs through the title track, “Jailbreak” (“Me and the boys don`t like it, so we`re getting up and going down”), a tale of urban desperadoes; “Angel From The Coast”, which seems to be about a murder that takes place unheeded in a junk and booze ridden tenement block, like a surreal version of “Suicide”, the stage fave track on “Fighting”.
“Warriors”, is about a kind of vengeful Silver Surfer; “The Boys Are Back In Town” (“Guess who just got back today – them wild-eyed boys who`ve been away… Friday night they`ll be dressed to kill, down at Dino`s bar and grill, the drinks will flow and the blood will spill”); “Fight Or Fall”, a subdued, world-weary call to rebellion; “Cowboy”, about a homesick rodeo rider (“I am just a cowboy, lonesome on the trail / Lord I`m just thinking `bout a certain female”); and “Emerald” is seemingly about a medieval massacre – either an invasion of Ireland or a people`s uprising.
Musically the LP is equally wide-ranging, but similarly unified, from the most delicate to the most attacking, distinguished by Lynott`s lilting vocals and the guitarists` sympathetic, rippling lines and rough-cut harmonies.
“Running Back” would find a welcome on Van Morrison`s “Moondance”, and there are at least five tracks here as good as anything I`ve heard for ages.
“Jailbreak” is a rare treasure.

Thin Lizzy

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Nils Lofgren, Patti Smith, Elvis, David Essex, Strapps, Steve Miller Band, Lee Garrett, Kiss.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be around or upwards of 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

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ARTICLE ABOUT Thin Lizzy FROM Sounds, NOVEMBER 9, 1974

Finally – here is a short, but nice interview with Phil Lynott. His band, Thin Lizzy, is one of those legendary bands that forever will have a place in musical history. A very gifted lyricist and a fantastic musician that unfortunately left this  world much too young (36 years old), but his legacy will live on for generations to come.
Geoff Barton, the journalist doing this interview, deserves a special mention. He joined Sounds at the age of nineteen and have for most of his life done music journalism. In 1981 he edited the first issue of Kerrang! – my youth wouldn`t have been the same without it as it was one of my only sources to what was going on in the rock`n`roll world. Remember – this was way before the world wide web,  so you couldn`t just go online to find whatever you wanted.
Today, I continue to have a musical relation with Mr. Barton through buying “Classic Rock Magazine” where he works as an Editor at Large.
These days, his son, Caesar Barton, continues the family tradition by working in music journalism.

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Music while you wait

Thin Lizzy`s Phil Lynott has written quite a few good lyrics in his time and now he has a book out “Songs For While I`m Away” with 20 of his songs in it. Here he talks to Geoff Barton about the book and Thin Lizzy Mk. III.

In my mind at least Phil Lynott is a first class, if not a foremost, rock lyricist. Perhaps it`s this which brings Thin Lizzy out of the bag of popular-but-pretty-boring-really bands, sets them a little apart from the rest, and gains them a certain amount of respect from fans and critics alike.
And though I`ve yet to see the new four piece Lizzy line-up, there`s no reason why they shouldn`t continue to be the same old solid, driving and powerful band that recorded “Vagabonds Of The Western World” and notched up no small amount of memorable live performances.
No reason at all…unless Phil abandons his bass guitar for quill pen and sets out to be a poet. Oho – that`s not in the least likely, but nevertheless he does have a book of poems or songs out at the moment, called “Songs For While I`m Away”.

It`s a brief selection of 20 or so of his songs, and most of them have been recorded at one time or another by the band, though not necessarily in the form in which they appear. They can`t really be categorised as poetry as such – they don`t really stand up to the transition on to the printed page – but if you can appreciate them as rock lyrics alone and nothing else, then they become quite superb.
The well-tried and popular rock lyric (i.e.: “Oooh baby, too much, yeah”) rarely says anything at all – no one worries about it that much, and more often than not it`s accepted as a matter of course. But Thin Lizzy lyrics are really the odd ones out. Be they about a juke joint and someone with their cycle outside (wanna try?), or about flagrant fields and schoolboy eyes, the Lizzy lyric invariably means something, tells a story of whatever.
And it`s a refreshing change.

INSPIRES

Lizzy`s management offices were pretty quiet – a typewriter clacked away in the background, and that was about it. Then Lynott & Co arrived, just back from a meeting with Phonogram, their new record company, to disrupt the whole scene. Lynott, clutching a Marvel Comic, strode into the room and caused quite a fracas. “What`s the Hulk`s other identity? Who`s the Silver Surfer?” he quizzed.
The interview, Phil. Oh yes. “…Most of my songs are autobiographical,” he says in rapid, nasal Irish tones, “that`s what inspires me to write. If I experience something, and I think that experience is worth sharing with somebody else – then I write a song. My whole reason for writing songs is to share my experience with…whoever. Maybe the person who listens to our records, or has the book. I hope it`s an experience that they can relate to.”

Peter Fallon, poet and brother to B.P. Fallon, together with artist Jim Fitzpatrick suggested to Phil that he should get “Songs For While I`m Away” together. And so he did. He sent Fallon 50 or so poems from which he selected about 20, and Fitzpatrick chose a couple to illustrate. The above book was the eventual result.
Phil: “It wasn`t my idea at all. But Ireland is such a small place that you can easily get something like the book arranged and on the move. In England you need a reason to do this sort of thing. In Ireland you don`t need a reason. If you get your money back – great. If you lose it all – so what?”
There`s no chance that Phil will lose money on the book, for the first edition sold out quickly and it`s currently being reprinted. It looks like it`s going to be a steady seller for some time.

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PERSONAL

Some of the inclusions in the book struck me as being very personal exercises, notably one about a pregnant girl called “Little Girl In Bloom”, and another about racial prejudice entitled “Black Boys On The Corner”. I wondered if Phil was at all wary in revealing his personal thoughts to a wide audience.
“In the music it`s cool, but in the book it strikes me as being a little different. Recently I`ve been doing a fair amount of interviews concerning the book, and I find it really embarassing to talk about it. Sure I can talk about the book as a book alone – but the minute you sort of go into particular poems, it gets so embarassing, I figure I`ve said it the way I want to say it, so why should I expand upon it?
“But the nice thing about it is that people are looking at me now and saying: `yeah, he writes a decent lyric or two`. They realise that I`m not just a singer in a rock and roll band. So now I know that people are going to be listening to me, it`s definitely going to be harder to write songs. I want to try and make them more meaningful – I definitely want to spend a lot more time on them.
“But what`s really worrying me is that I`m doing more interviews about this book than about the band!”

Okay, so what about the band? The departure of Gary Moore led to the break up of perhaps one of the most visual three-piece bands, but the truth is that Moore wasn`t happy – he considered Lizzy a pop band, of all things. So, now we have Lizzy Mk. III, or thereabouts.

CRAZY

“All those personnel changes – for a while it was really bad, but now it`s beginning all over again. This Lizzy is the best Lizzy that`s ever been.” He pauses, as if expecting some sort of retort on my part, then continues: “When we were a three-piece there was a certain emptiness in the sound, and we couldn`t explore the material sufficiently. But now the current band is playing…well, more like a band should play. With Gary we were like three individuals in one band, it was a crazy line-up, but as a live act we couldn`t fail.”
Gary Moore appears on one track called “Still In Love” on the new Lizzy album “Nightlife”, together with singer Frankie Miller. The rest of it is four-piece Lizzy with new guys Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson.

And before 1975 is out, there should be a Phil Lynott solo album, featuring material vastly different from the band`s usual stuff and showcasing him, if not necessarily in his capacity as musician, then in his capacity as a songwriter.
Phil: “I`m looking forward to the album more as a project than a product.”
And why not?

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This ad would probably be considered too “sexist” today? Not in 1974…

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Elton John, Ken Boothe, Van Morrison, Pink Floyd, Pete Brown, George Harrison, David Puttnam, Mott The Hoople, Bad Company, David Bowie, Phil Spector, Janis Ian.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be around or upwards of 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.