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!
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.
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.
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.
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