Oh fuck me! I haven’t been here in a bit, and there have been some changes (not to self: get used to new shit)… Well I haven just reactivated my FB, I’m also on Instagram, Tumblr, and now Twitter. Yes, I WILL do a review of TL’s Thunder and Lightning… someday…
Well my fellow reptiles, the Wacko Jacko Clan has done it again! And by that I mean generating more press (and thusly more dollars) by waving Michael’s shriveled corpse in front of a camera.
Four years ago Michael Jackson died of a drug cocktail consisting of propofol (a pre-anasthetic) and bennies (a.k.a. antidepressants- lorazepam). Now I avoid daytime TV like the fucking plague but on The Talk, panelists Sharon Osbourne and Sara Gilbert made a pair of realistic comments on the Jackson Clan taking li’l MJ’s GP Dr. Conrad Murray (serving a 4 year prison sentence) to court for $40 billion dollars. Now both women come from celebrity backgrounds- Sara acting, Sharon metal- where drugs are simply part of the entertainment culture, so they have direct experience with drug use and/or those who use. A combination of inspiration, arrogance, privilege, boredom, and stress has invited the uses of pharmaceuticals as quick fixes. Gilbert was bombarded with Twats from rabid MJ fanfucks screaming their umbrage over their black-turned-white-quasi-Peter Pan idol, and today she backpedaled.
Way to go Darlene.
Why don’t we step into the Wayback Machine and zip back to 27 January 1984. Wacko Jacko was filming a Pepsi commercial in front of fans when a pyrotechnical effect misfired causing Mikey’s scalp and face to catch fire. Suffering 2nd degree burns he was scarred and had permanent nerve damage, not to mention the trauma of the injury. It was either at this time or his two previous nose jobs that Mike began his addiction to painkillers that opened the doors to other prescription drug abuse. Remember coke, weed, meth, and smack, the accepted drugs that stars abuse that turn up in red-topped newspapers aren’t the only ones. Judy Garland and Elvis were total pill freaks, enabled by family, friends, doctors, agents, and producers alike. You think Mikey was any different?
It’s a fact that the last two Jacksons that were solvent were Janet and Michael until the 1993 sex abuse allegations. Michael was more than likely financially supporting his siblings’ lifestyles. But the millions he raked in sales after his death was taken by record companies and creditors with little to spare even for his mother and kids who were handsomely provided for in his will leaving the bulk of his fortune to his charities. This, of course, didn’t sit well with those who expected a big payout, so they held up little brother’s burial for 10 days forcing for his estate to pay for not only MJ’s tomb in Hollywood Forever Cemetery’s private mausoleum, but for ALL THOSE JEHOVAH WITNESS ASSHOLES’ WALL PLOTS! And adding insult to injury, they forced the LAPD to provide a motorcade for the the Staples Center memorial that displayed an empty gold plated casket, but it was a time when the police department was suffering motherfucking cutbacks!
So what can we take from all this? A failed reality show, a ridiculous musical (that only ran in London’s West End), and a Dumb and Dumber kidnapping of Katherine and the kids couldn’t keep these big-headed assfucks afloat, now they have to resort to the talk show circuit and Court TV to kick a dying horse for sympathy and money. People, Dr. Conrad Murray is just one of thousands of Hollywood’s Dr. Feel Goods. If he didn’t procure for Mikey, someone else would have (and we all know that despite an agency “contracting” him on paper under shitpiles of legalese it was really Michael). And MJ had an entourage that wanted to stay in his good graces to get a piece of the action, Murray liked the money addicted starts gave him, and if anybody said “no” they were ignored, threatened, or removed.
Welcome to La-La land people. Careful what you wish for, you just might get it.
Blame Humon for this, but I’d been watching the uber-gay-naff Eurovision Song Contest since I was a kid as we had the Italian station RAI on our former Channel 31 PBS station. Now thanks to Brooklyn-based Vice TV, Heavy Metal in Baghdad has placed a spotlight on a genre of music that is illegal in Acrassicauda’s compromised part of the world based on the deist insanity claim of satanic worship. You can also check out British-Canadian filmmaker-anthropologist-heavy metal bassist-nut Sam Dunn’s Global Metal (and 2 disc CD soundtrack- TWO HORNS UP!) for further exploration and discourse on metal culture versus establishment stupidity.
But I’d like to focus on the European-Asian bridge of Turkey on this post. Now thanks to The Metal Voice who has made me a Myrath devotee, the Turkish metal band Mezarkabul (a.k.a. Pentagram) I think should be playing at the billion dollar waste Barclay Center to give it some REAL flavor that Jay-Z and Streisand just can’t do anymore.
See what I mean?
But I have European relatives and know how they get rabid for their techno dance pop shit. Please tell me that the clubs in Istanbul isn’t playing this pile of fuck:
And YES I fucking know one of Mezarkabul’s former guitarists wrote the 2003 ESC winner. If Alternica would just fucking retire (their ’91 The Black Album was their last good album) the international acts would have their proper shot and nuke everything Cowell built, and people wouldn’t have to resort of pop music to make a living.
Now if Turkey would just fess up to the Armenian Genocide I’d spend my money there.
Although techno dance pop (I don’t care if it’s from the US, Moldavia, Korea, Mexico, or Japan) will likely give you meth mouth, please “LIKE” this video if you HATE totalitarianism. Hitch would’ve been impressed (although he’d probably despise the music as well and wouldn’t be too arsed to write a book about it)!
Now I just did the TL National Stadium DVD review, but I think I should do a review of the deluxe edition of their 1975 Fighting album. There are three reasons: 1) In my dashboard I noticed that “Thin Lizzy Fighting” has appeared numerous times under the top searches. 2) Far too many dismiss all pre-Jailbreak albums. And finally 3) The reason why I didn’t review the DE version of Chinatown was because disc 2 contains mostly live performances, soundchecks, Killer on the Loose single B-side Don’t Play Around, US edit of We Will Be Strong (which doesn’t sound too different from the UK version), and a rough cut of Chinatown.
Like so many legendary bands, their early projects are only appreciated down the road, and Allmusic gave the album 4 1/2 stars. After the newly reformed Thin Lizzy with a brash Glaswegian and a rocking hippie Californian taking up guitar duties debuted their 1974 album Nightlife which did nothing to improve their standing with Phonogram, but were kicking ass and fucking groupies, they booked studio time at the euthanized Olympic Studios and spent the latter part of the spring cutting Fighting. Now Nightlife was an eclectic bag of bluesy-jazzy-cum-pop-rock, for their sophomore album Lizzy knew they wanted to go headlong in the hard rock arena. But after the battles fought with cokehead producer Ron Nevison, they were determined not to be underestimated. So Phil decided to produce the thing himself. The problem, he’d never produced an album before. Enter engineer, the late Keith Harwood.
Robbo referred to Keith as “an absolute gem. Sadly missed, I have to say. I loved the guy to death. He was just a real gentleman, and he had all the ideas. Phil hadn’t produced an album in his life before. You know, when it says, ‘Produced by Phil Lynott,’ no it wasn’t. It was really produced by Keith Harwood, with a few ideas from Phil. That’s all it was.” (Popoff, Fighting My Way Back)
Then Robbo does the real celebutard shitty-ass thing and speaks from the other side of his mouth and says in the DE liner notes: “He helped ensure that we got the sounds we needed, and while he wasn’t a co-producer, he made life so much easier for all of us.”
Robbo, man, we love you. We know you’re an alkey, and maybe that’s why you’re such an endearing trainwreck. But ultimately that’s between you, your wife, and your son (although I can’t be sure if he’s still with wife #2). Perhaps you should cut back a bit for at least the interviews. Your fans want to think the best of you, so please avoid the Hollywood 1-D bullfuckery okay?
Getting back to the matter at hand, Fighting was ultimately the album that set the stage for Jailbreak, and while the band was in frame the picture was out of focus. But Thin Lizzy always managed to find speedbumps along the way when it came to the corporate side of things. And their troubles seemingly began with a picture.
Jim Fitzpatrick’s brilliant artwork is woefully missing for Fighting, and ironically it would be the only album to sport their official logo he designed. So to save time and moolah, the label went with photography. Rock photographers Paul Anthony and Mick Rock were given the job to capture Thin Lizzy’s sex appeal and make them look commercially available. What we got were a pair of album sleeves out of never ending fuck-ups.
The sleeve at the top is the “official” one as it was released in the UK. The photo above was used for the NA release, Robbo called “much prettier.” Since he had a real scruffy beard at the time the photos were taken (see UK Tour ’75 liner notes for pics), the Chrises were ready to sack him unless he shaved, so he conceded and kept his post. What was bringing Phil down was that the messages he was trying to impart in the album were about post-pubescent angst and rebelliousness. Not violence and rioting (however Phil preferred his listeners to have open interpretation of his lyrics). But the Liberty Vallance image Phil constructed dogged him everywhere, and more or less nullified his intentions. Not to mention that Thin Lizzy regarded itself as a gang; fighting, fucking, hard drinking, drugging, and rocking were the rules of the road. So how else were they supposed to look other than a “thug band” with that kind of album title. Another proposed sleeve had Lizzy goofing off with prop weapons on the street until someone thought they were for real and dialed 999.
The last proposal was thankfully dumped into the reject bin, because it was just plain motherfucking stupid. As a last resort they got a makeup artist to make them look after a typical after-show party:
While this looks tame and even silly by today’s standards, get in a wayback machine and zip back 36 years and you might understand why it was thought to be in poor taste and frightening.
Okay, let’s get to the meat of this thing! Disc 1 contains the same tracks as the original release and isn’t remastered (thanks Scott!). Rosalie is best known because of Thin Lizzy’s cover, and Phil being a fan of Bob Seger (and The Allman Brothers) was surprised that he didn’t include it in his set. So he decided to give it a proper treatment and added it to the Lizzy catalog. It was issued as a single off the album but went nowhere because the studio recording of it was simply too subdued. That said, the version on Live and Dangerous is the definitive mix. For Those Who Love to Live was unabashed hero worship of Phil’s Man U football hero and drinking buddy, George Best. It’s cool jazzy-pop with an addictive hook demonstrating Phil’s burgeoning abilities as a modern Irish bard. Who else could word paint young, ambitious men on the rough streets of Troubled Belfast dreaming of endless green pitches and glittering gold medals, wanting you to swing your hips and strike cool poses? Suicide remained a staple in the Thin Lizzy set up until the bitter end. It’s hard and heavy blues rock, and I think it helped Phil sublimate his obsession with death, openly criticizing society’s apathy in the face of tragedy.
An interesting note on King’s Vengeance, it was covered by 21 Guns and Tommy La Verdi did a pretty good job. But honestly, I don’t know what to make of it. It was penned by Phil and Scott, and while the music is your typical 70s feel-good sound (almost folky), the lyrics puzzle me and feels a bit unfinished.
Down and out in the city
Won’t you give a boy a break
Juvenile on trial before committee
Taken all he can take
But the king shall have his vengeance
Especially on the poor
Some say preaching to convert him
Me I’m not too sure
Spring she comes and spring she teases
Brings summer winds and summer breezes
Blow through your hair till autumn leaves us
When autumn leaves us, oh how winter freezes
And the child is still breathing
With the beating of a heart (with the beating of the heart)
Some say we are equal
Some a million miles apart
Oh my god
Oh my god
But the king shall have his vengeance
While the Queen she represents the innocent
And the child so dependent
But the seasons conquer all
Spring she comes and spring she teases
Brings summer winds and summer breezes
Blow through your hair till autumn leaves us
When autumn leaves, oh how winter freezes
But the king shall have his vengeance
Especially on the poor
Some say preaching to converted
Me I’m not so sure
Morbidity and drugs come to mind for Spirit Slips Away. The track opens with this ominous guitar overture mixed over howling wind on a dust-swept steppe. I believe this demonstrated Phil’s philosophy as to why musicians use was to take creativity to the edge- and over- hence the verse, And when the music that makes you blue/Unfolds its secrets, the mysteries are told to you. Jerome Rimson said Phil never wanted to grow old, he wanted to go out in a blaze of glory, and Gary Moore said that right before the end Phil admitted he had difficulty accepting adulthood which supersedes his addiction to the celebrity lifestyle. You can argue whether or not this was a self-fulfilling prophecy, but the vibes here are eerie and uncomfortable. My favorite track is the Irish history lesson wonderfully disguised as a love ballad, Wild One. This song should be played at every Irish wake, and should be highly appreciated for the twin guitar lead. It’s sentimental, not soppy, and neatly fits in with the youthfulness of the album (whereas Sarah was cute but definitely filler for Black Rose– they were one track short).
Now Fighting My Way Back can’t be called a title track exactly, but it successfully gets Phil’s anarchic message across. He wrote “by hook or by crook”, and by God was he going to get to the top that way as well. Nothing is worth starting if you can’t finish it, and Whiskey wasn’t going to have Thin Lizzy tossed into the one-hit wonder bin, but reinvention is never easy. So if a song can scream “I’m pissed to fuck, mad as hell, and if ya won’t get outta my way I’ll kick your ass” any louder to the Phonogram execs, I don’t know what could. Silver Dollar is a funky bluesy-country number about love on the rocks. Now there are two things that musicians know: 1) music and 2) women. They fuck women in droves, they marry a bunch of times, and they “fall in love” weekly (with women half their age). But there’s always The One That Got Away. It’s a tried and true cliche, but I think Robbo’s feeling a bit too sorry for himself on this one.
On the weird King’s Call promo, a photo of Martin Luther King Jr. flashes on the screen behind Downey. Phil said of growing up black in Ireland was as easy as “having cauliflower ears,” but by the time Thin Lizzy were bonafide rock stars the Irish social landscape was changing. Nevertheless, Freedom Song was the universal theme for racial equality and support for Sinn Fein. Political commentary, nothing new here. Sounds like someone was pretty pissed when writing Ballad Of A Hard Man, and in this case it was Scott. Scott was the pretty face with the gorgeous hair that kept up a supposed flawless image, and while he wasn’t a badass, he has a lot of attitude. Maybe his time in the clink and being crazy stoned in LA influenced this. It’s interesting enough, and could have a place on a 70s blaxploitation flick’s soundtrack.
Now disc 2 has a few, shall we say, recycled bits. Half Caste (Rosalie single’s B-side) Phil’s foray into reggae, made two previous appearances, the first being on the TL CD set/coffee table book Vagabonds, Kings, Warriors, Angels on disc 2, and Lizzy’s eleventh John Peel session (Thin Lizzy At The BBC disc 3). Also taken from session eleven was Rosalie and Suicide. Like We Will Be Strong, Rosalie’s US mix doesn’t deviate too far from its UK counterpart, so what was the point? Try A Little Harder was on VKWA, but at least this was a true alternate mix with different vocals, a nicer fade out, and 40 seconds longer. Ballad of a Hard Man and Song For Jesse were instrumentals, but Ballad had a couple of false starts giving it a grittier feel. Another instrumental was Wild One, and should have been on the B-side of the single! Yeah, it’s that good. The Leaving Town instrumental had an acoustic replacing the electric guitar, and it sounded like the boys were having an intimate afternoon jam with friends at the Speakeasy. Blues Boy, written by Robbo, is a mellow affair with simple (yet rocky) lyrics could have him going head-to-head with Snowy. Dig that fucking solo!
Leaving Town‘s extended take was nearly… six… minutes… long… Okay I admit I got a little bored with this track. This isn’t January Stars, and I think only Clapton (until the very end of the 90s) could get away with this kind of self-indulgent shit. I don’t think ditto marks are appropriate for Spirit Slips Away extended take four. Brian’s Funky Fazer (Robbo’s first name was misspelled as “Bryan” on the sleeve and booklet) must’ve been the working title for Silver Dollar (and I’m glad they changed it). This was yet another instrumental only 10 seconds longer than the vocal. Very nice, but nothing to write home about.
Whew! Done and done! This review took a few days, but I’m glad it gave me the chance to really digest the CD. I hope whoever reads this GOES OUT and picks up a copy of Fighting, and maybe thumb through some music Simon Cowell isn’t brainwashing you to buy? With the announcement of Colony Records’ closure, it brings the end of the independent record store era. And here in NYC small music, movie, and book shops were essential threads that helped weave our pop culture fabric. Now with iTunes, Amazon, and big box stores vacuuming that into a black hole, I’m becoming more depressed at the giant strip mall my city’s destined to be. Hey White, you’re not the only one who’s a limey!
I was a bit reluctant as to what to post next since life has been chaotic this summer (and I don’t think this coming rough winter will look any better), so I decided to do another Thin Lizzy review to take my mind off shit!
It’s been a busy year for the TL organization what with touring and re-releasing albums for the next generation of rock enthusiasts. Scott Gorham (the de facto leader) has cracked his businessman’s whip mightily and threw open the old flightcases clearing away the cobwebs and panties to serve up some Lizzy goodies previously seen only on You Tube (especially for NA fans). The deluxe editions of Nightlife and Fighting were great, but I favor Fighting as it has better liner note contents and pics. Also on my list is another up-and-coming TL book co-authored by Scott and music journalist Harry Doherty this November by Omnibus Press (they also published Putterford’s biography). Before I get stuck into this I’d like to thank ThinLizzyFanpage and Blacksabfan (amongst other dedicated fans) who originally put up the video clips featured on this DVD.
Live at the National Stadium is actually a collection of European TV Thin Lizzy specials spanning 1976-83. The videos are fully restored (or as restored as they could be with our current technology) with 5.1 surround and the clever animated title menu used the Still in Love With You performance in the Johnny The Fox sleeve art motif (I hope Fitzpatrick got his royalties). The two documentaries and TV concert run just about an hour each, and the bonus features which are from RTE music show (so obscure virtually nothing comes up on the Google radar) 6/5 Live and the promo video Old Town, a track from Phil’s second solo album. While there’s multi-language subtitles (English, French, German, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, and European Spanish), you’re shit out of luck on the lyrics. Also good to note that there are chapters laid out like a setlist for the TV concert.
Thin Lizzy’s appearance on On Stage at the Stadium was packaged in 1976 and broadcast in two 30-minute blocks, on January 21 and July 12. But lucky us we get the whole she-fucking-bang that includes guitar tuning, everyone high and/or drunk off their tits, Phil’s bass fucking up during Suicide, and just before Rosalie Scott had to pseudo-banter because Big Charlie had to come out and tweak Phil’s gear. The campiest bit was during Downey’s showcase of Sha-La-La where Phil donned a wolfman mask, collapsed, and had to be drug off stage à la Elvis by Big Charlie (also in a wolfman mask). The strobe lights in the drum riser were 70s high-tech fun, but the roadies fucked up on the smoke machine cue when they started to pump arbitrarily between For Those Who Love To Live and Showdown. Another interesting tidbit (especially for those with a soft spot for the Brians) you can’t help but notice that Scott gets a lot of face time when the camera isn’t panning on Phil. This phenomena was also apparent on Lizzy’s first TOTP spot miming Wild One (there are two takes, but the one widely seen is on their Greatest Hits DVD). One of the big problems Thin Lizzy suffers from is that their sound on CD (or vynl back in the day) can’t capture what they put out on stage. I know Robbo hated playing the “old stuff” (pre-Jailbreak and from what some say truly got him fired for), but when you see the attitude, charisma, rawness, and power even in these early performances where the kids had to be subdued by security these are unique individuals doing something that had quite the ripple effect in pop culture. I like the young Lizzy, rough and unshaven using Fairy washing-up soap for shampoo with everything to prove, and nothing to lose.
But by 1982 all the swashbuckling was turning to self-parody, the Renegade album failed, and the tour was a disaster where the after show party was becoming more important than the show. Phil was a smart PR guy and he knew he had to rev up public interest so he consented for RTE to produce the short rockumentary Renegade: The Philip Lynott Story. It was shot between London and Ireland over six weeks that was staged as a friendly afternoon tea between presenter David Heffernan and Phil, Lynott entourage member and Irish blues musician Brush Sheils, Brian Downey, Scott Gorham, and Darren Wharton. This is the first in-depth look at Lizzy’s formation, influences, and some of Phil’s background in Dublin. It includes promo videos Waiting For an Alibi, King’s Call, and Killer On The Loose; an impromptu jam session in Phil’s Kew Road studio/garage (and the last time Snowy White is seen with the band); a gig on one of Phil’s solo band tours at St. Francis Xavier Hall in Dublin, and a performance of Are You Ready at the ’78 Australia festival tour featuring Mark Nauseef and Gary Moore. It was a sweetly whitewashed affair, and whether or not it was Phil’s stellar showmanship but any evidence of marital and professional problems he had simply didn’t exist. In fact Phil quipped, “No girlfriends of mine. Got the wife here.” It’s a bit like a Chinese lunch special, you pay the $6 but you feel like you ate $4.50 worth of food. If they went the distance for 90 minutes, and did away with the promos, musical montages, and that awful Yellow Pearl TOTP intro it would seem less like a commercial. What also was so obvious was the palpable anxiousness of giving something away (with the exception of Downey). Phil didn’t look so hot during the jam, despite his asthma, he was a chain smoker, and he sounded very congested. But heroin can do that as well.
In 1983 Thin Lizzy was ready to call it a day, and with John Sykes taking to the right side of the stage, a silver record under their belts with Thunder and Lightning #4 in the UK charts, they were going out in style. RTE and David Heffernan were re-enlisted to produce another rockumentary on the demise of a long-standing touring band featuring, not so much Thin Lizzy, but their treasured road crew. The Sun Goes Down was filmed during one of their final Belfast gigs and their final two gigs at the Royal Dublin Society (RDS), and although there was mixed feelings of both relief and sadness at Lizzy’s imminent split, no one thought it would be permanent. The band resumed the devil-may-care attitude that shot them to stardom in order to die in a blaze of glory. Darren Wharton was still that cherubic Manchester innocent that joined up at 18, John Sykes stayed cool as a cucumber in his little Van Halen-esque bubble, and Scott hammed it up for the camera. Isn’t it cool that it’s a requirement to show up for work drunk and stoned? The entire balls-out storming gig was edited to span the track Cold Sweat, and closed with The Sun Goes Down from one of the RDS shows (I think this is the second show that was used for the Thunder and Lightning concert video. Phil’s voice was shot to hell as he turned up early, got drunk and high, and the rest is history). I know there were a few negative comments on YT with fans getting frustrated that TL wasn’t on camera until the end, but I don’t believe that the band had anything new to add on the matter, without divulging their addiction problems.
The final three treats are two performances on RTE’s 6/5 Live and The Philip Lynott Album’s promo video Old Town. The Founding and Lost Lizzy lineups mimed Are You Ready and Whiskey in the Jar, but Phil’s vocals were live. It was 1980/81 and Lost Lizzy were crackin’ with Snowy joining in on the fun throwing shapes and taking part in the macho goodness. Phil pulled faces at the camera and stuck his tongue out at Scott who was wearing the show’s black muscle shirt. Eric Bell was kind enough to join Phil and Brian for Whiskey seemingly picking up where they left off. Old Town was an old fashioned ballad starring Irish actress Fionna McKenna as The Girl and immortalized the Ha’Penny Bridge into the annals of rock. It was filmed over two days and Phil was completely in his element mooching and flirting on Grafton Street (where he took a cute chick for a turn), but the scene in the Dublin bar (where he had his aperitif of double brandies) had him looking bloated and weary.
Regardless, it was a fine way to wrap up this DVD of Thin Lizzy specials. Buy it for the On Stage gig and try not to get too frustrated at the bits that do tend to drag.
If you’re a lover of Rob Reiner’s Spinal Tap, I needn’t rehash the “11” joke (which inspired Bad News for all my fellow Young Ones fans), but Spinal Tap was how the end of Thin Lizzy’s Chinatown tour shaped up. According to Byrne and Putterford, their Australia shows were hampered by pyrotechinical difficulties. In other words, the Lizzies could’ve gotten killed. Gorham and Wharton describe onstage mayhem when the band weren’t permitted to bring their pyro effects because of customs’ regulations, and had to hire a local firm. Scott was told that the explosions were going to be massive, and when he saw what looked like flimsy candlesticks with bits of tin foil lining the stage, the chill that went up his spine wasn’t necessarily chemically-induced.
The opener was Are You Ready and the SFX were set to go off when the first power chord was struck, but instead of the usual flame and smoke cloud there was an explosion tearing holes into the ceiling, bringing down debris that hit Snowy in the chest knocking him flat, blowing the PA to fuck, and temporarily deafening everybody. Wharton said that the only thing that could be heard were the acoustic drums and his keyboards. The band retreated to the dressing room, and it took the techs an hour to sort everything and the gig went on.
Thin Lizzy and the US had a short, bittersweet fling that began and ended with The Boys Are Back In Town back in ’76. The following singles never came off quite right and the albums earned RIAA certifications over an extended period of time. Even Live and Dangerous which is hailed as the gold standard for live album recording (and went platinum in the UK staying on the charts for 62 weeks flying high at #2) only went up to #84 Stateside. Mercury Records (which is Phonogram’s American distributor) was run by two guys out of Chicago that didn’t know a damn thing about rock, and when Lizzy left that label for Warner Brothers in time for Black Rose, Warner’s didn’t give a shit about them. The other problem was the band itself. Drugs, sex, partying, and fighting fucked their US takeover. It began with Phil’s hepatitis infection during the Jailbreak tour. It was the Swinging 70s, and as a celebrity Phil embraced the time’s ceaseless pleasures. Getting drunk and stoned daily doesn’t help while putting together your To Do list where “Stop by chemist to pick up Trojans” should be at the top. And there you have it. It also helped spell out Phil’s early demise concerning the irreparable damage hepatitis did to his liver and his love affair with drink. Then when JTF hit stores going silver then gold across the pond, Robbo got into a punch up after eating his steak dinner (and ONLY a couple of beers according to Robertson) at the Speakeasy club with members of Gonzales when his pal Frankie Miller drunkenly interrupted their jam, causing BR to get bottled clean through the hand. Gary Moore came through and did the tour in America, JTF crawled up to #52 and #11 in the UK.
Bad Reputation had Robbo brought back into the fold tentatively, because his punk-ass (along with Jimmy Bain) was mouthing off to Phil (via the press) about starting up Wild Horses while he convalesced/was suspended. O’Donnell claimed that Robbo was for all intents purposes sacked because of his arrogance and was the spark for much of the infighting in Thin Lizzy. While Robbo admits that being young, dumb, and full of come was the cause of much consternation (and being in the wars), Phil didn’t have a leg to stand on considering Moore wanted to return to Colosseum instead of taking up lead guitar duties permanently. When Thin Lizzy hooked up with Tony Visconti the first time around to record Reputation in Toronto, Scott was given lead guitar duties exclusively, but his inferiority complex may have hampered what was excellent playing. According to Moore in Putterford’s book and the 2011 Black Rose Extended Edition liner notes, Scott had worked himself into mental state believing he wasn’t any good, and didn’t want to embarrass himself (which is why he passed up guesting on Moore’s solo album Back on the Streets). He was overshadowed by Robbo’s explosiveness while he is the typical SoCal lackadaisical type who happens to be of Midwestern parentage (Mom Gorham is a Michigander and Dad Gorham is from Iowa). One can see how well the “classic” Thin Lizzy lineup guitarists danced not dueled with Robbo so in-your-face and Scott possessing a certain reserve (it also may be why Scott fell into heroin). Robbo was flown into Canada to do overdubs, but was acting like a real asshole for pride’s sake, but he did want back into Lizzy as much as Phil needed him. However, the Reputation US tour was evil. The drug use skyrocketed, and money was being spent faster than Lizzy could make it. Chris Morrison, Thin Lizzy’s accountant and manager, had endless rows with Phil over the budget, but as Scott put it in Popoff’s book: “Not even the management told us what to do.” Downey concurs with this in Byrne’s book: “The management was never really in it anyway.” Downey and Scott nearly bailed from Lizzy on that tour from problematic performances, being upstaged by fellow supporting acts, and at that time Phil and Robbo’s relationship deteriorated to the point of fisticuffs. Bad Reputation marched up to #39 but took the #4 spot and a gold record in the UK.
Producing Live and Dangerous has the band at odds with Visconti because they insist not one thing was overdubbed. However I side with Visconti on this one boys. Phil overdubbed all his vocals AND did the backup vocals as well. It also has very clean performances for roughly a year’s worth of touring (30 hours of tape Kit Woolven sifted through to cull together the album from different shows around the globe). Not buying it? Compare it to UK Tour ’75, granted that was one show at the Derby College of Technology, but there was background noise, audience participation, and guitar tuning, but most of all you can hear Robbo’s and Scott’s distinctive backup vocals. I know, I know, it’s a man thing… But Live and Dangerous was the end of the line for Robbo and he was dismissed one month after the album’s release following a botched Spain show. For their American tour Gary Moore was drafted and this time for an extended stay, but the tides turned for Downey who begged off the tour from exhaustion and drugs, and super sub Mark Nauseef began his Thin Lizzy jaunts (you saw him on skins for their famed Sydney Opera House show before a million psychotic fans).
Black Rose’s US romance was blunted by heroin and Phil’s craziness. Moore and Lynott had a love-hate-more-love-more-hate relationship until Phil’s death.While Moore definitely said and did things that were uncalled for, I think his frustrations came to a head and was nearly driven to violence (Jim Fitzpatrick Lizzy’s album cover artist and one of Phil’s close friends referred to Gary as a manic depressive with borderline violent tendencies and self-confidence problems). Gary felt that Lizzy could have been as big as Journey (who they were supporting at that time), but Downey who knew the score was far more realistic, and saw how things were going in a downward spiral during the Black Rose recording in Paris with Visconti (not to mention experimenting with smack himself) and had no choice but to resign himself if he wanted to continue with the band. Black Rose: A Rock Legend was their magnum opus going gold and reaching #2 in the UK. In the US #81. In my opinion, Americans at the time just didn’t get it, I suppose you had to be a Thin Lizzy fanatic, Irish, or an insane rock enthusiast. It also has to be said that the Warner’s advertising was crap. Visconti called the album “Celtic music by a rock band”, and Scott said that at this time despite the fact that heroin was seeping through causing production in to slow down Thin Lizzy was at its tightest creatively and performance-wise. Gary Moore is credited largely for bringing in major Irish influence for the album (in this era three out of four members were Irish and Scott’s maternal great-grandparents were from Enniskillen, Northern Ireland).
But when the Chinatown tour reefed Scott’s home shores, the album creeped up to #120, and no Thin Lizzy single had charted since The Cowboy Song (#77). Then to make matters worse Scott managed to dislocate his knee during a smack trip at a gig at the Ontario Theater in DC and was up to his hip in plaster. For some crazed reason he decided to tough it out and perform the remaining three weeks sitting on a bar stool. A single fan photo of this feat surfaced on MyShit (the site has switched its focus to the pop music industry since Fuckbook and Twatter have cornered the global market on social assworking), while the venue is dark, you could tell it’s him because he had (has) distinctive hair. Wisely by the end of the tour, Scott stayed behind in LA for Xmas and New Year’s with his family to let them take care of him. It was also the last time Thin Lizzy toured America with Phil at the helm.
At best Renegade is a concept album gone horrifically wrong. Once again Renegade and Phil’s second solo album, The Philip Lynott Album, were being produced at the same time in London and the recently defunct Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas (where Phil and his assorted entourage of Lizzies, solo band members, Huey Lewis, and other friends would go to fuck off for “working holidays”. Scott Gorham: “Sitting there under a ton of sun-tan oil on this beautiful white beach, sucking on a few Bahama Mamas and looking at all the bikinis wiggling past.”). Kit Woolven was doubling as producer and engineer, but wasn’t about to make the same mistakes exasperating himself as he did with his previous Lizzy trek. He brought in Chris Tsangarides who was slated to produce the new Wild Horses album and worked with the Tygers of Pan Tang. Eventually Woolven (mostly) produced Phil’s second solo album and Tsangarides produced Thin Lizzy’s final two studio albums.
Because Thin Lizzy was already committed to some festival dates, the new album material was left discarded at the studios because nobody was able to make a decision as to what was going to be worked on when or first. Meanwhile the band racked up a pair of compilation album successes with The Adventures of Thin Lizzy (#6) and Lizzy Killers going gold and silver. The festivals were an overall hit, but the day they played Milton Keynes, the Trouble Boys single was released and spluttered up to #53. Trouble Boys, a Rockpile cover, (that featured the Percy Mayfield song Memory Pain on the B-side) everyone save for Phil was dead-set against releasing. Snowy White suggested recording Memory Pain, but watching the performances on Rockpalast was painful enough. Trouble Boys was promptly dropped from the album. That Milton Keynes gig was, coincidentally, a disaster because the support acts were anything but hard rock, there was torrential rain, and a crowd of below 10,000.
Phil admitted he wasn’t the best at choosing album titles would throw everything at the wall until something stuck. Since Trouble Boys flopped (which was a provisional album title) Phil needed a new idea, so to clear his mind he decided to go for a drink when it literally flew by him. Phil spotted a Thin Lizzy fan on a motorcycle with the band’s logo on his leather jacket with the word “renegade” going down the side of it. And that encounter laid the framework for Lynott’s smashing title track (another version of the story in the new liner notes had Phil on the tour bus when spotting the rider). The sleeve art was done by Fitzpatrick, if you go to famed rock photographer Denis O’Regan’s site (he met Phil in ’79 I believe, and Phil wanted to fuck his girlfriend) you’ll see Phil brandishing the Renegade flag. It’s a good thing that the star was stuck in the upper right hand corner rather than center like on the sleeve because Thin Lizzy was in enough hot water, they didn’t need anything that resembled allegiance to Ho Chi Minh since the Cold War was reaching its precipice back then.
Now Phil had a penchant for writing in code (Parisienne Walkways: “I remember Paris in ’49” [Philip Parris Lynott born 20/08/1949]; Romeo and the Lonely Girl: Romeo is an anagram for Moore; originally Angel From the Coast was supposed to be about Scott [Los Angeles = City of Angels]) but as his addictions worsened and the band fell apart it became more evident what his songs were alluding to. For the title track Phil was in full cry, back in the saddle as the storyteller (and Snowy’s arrangement is heavenly). I even was tolerant of Wharton’s keyboards. If the boy who lost his sights found his footing if only temporarily, he proved that he didn’t have to try very hard to make his audience tremble.
The best goddamn track on this album hands down is Hollywood (Down on Your Luck)! A collaboration of Scott and Phil (although during Rockpalast Phil credits Scott solely) which is autobiographical on Scott’s part, and Phil’s love of Americana. But I can’t help but feel a bit slighted as a New Yorker:
Not like living in New York
Man, it’s tougher…
Not like in New York
It’s high rise, it’s concrete and complex…
Not like in New York
All you’ve got is Broadway…
St. George Carlin said, “Living in New York is a character builder.” And being from LA is a caricature maker, so I can understand why Scott doesn’t live in LA anymore. Oh yeah, wasn’t your Sweet Marie (Broussard) a New York heiress? Sour Grapes, perhaps? But getting back into the song in question, not only could you dance to it, I can’t hear Wharton at all on it! Thank the universe! But if Phil was under pressure for the band to come up with the goods, then it was ready to blow on the next track…
Also penned by Phil and Scott, The Pressure Will Blow isn’t so much about living the Lizzy life, but their lives in general. Phil growls with ferocity at the powers that be (label, wife, dealers, fans, friends, and critics) wanting a way out but they’d dug a hole so deep they couldn’t get out. And it’s a great song for when you’re in a jam and need to get your rocks off. Lizzy was stuck in a rut doing the same damn show night after night, but iridescent pebbles of truth and sincerity fell loose every now and again.
It’s Getting Dangerous has Phil in command as storyteller (with Scott co-writing) once again. I can’t help but feel that this track is a companion to We Will Be Strong (or should it be a second chapter?), but it would be an oversimplification to place all the blame on the heroin. While it isolated Phil and Scott, professionally Lizzy suffered greatly as they remained stilted creatively and mired in the aftershocks of excess that all successful musicians face. You get to the top, and you find what? More of the same. Phil lost touch with his audience and the world at large so he could only offer up a caveat emptor: How he tried his best, he said, “Watch out for the danger.”
VH1 Behind the Music: Thin Lizzy– Scott Gorham: “The great Thin Lizzy goal all of a sudden now it started to feel like it wasn’t achievable any longer. And if it was, I wondered if I even cared.”
Listening to the last five tracks, I knew Thin Lizzy was slipping. Opening the album is Angel of Death…
Scott Gorham: “…Was too heavy metal for words, and I hated it. I mean, how much more corn do you want? There were great big hunks of butter dripping of that sucker!”
Clocking in at 6:18 I know that Phil was inspired by Prophecies of Nostradamus (on the Rockpalast DVD it’s listed at “Desaster”– what in the holy mother of ass is that?!), but this had the oddest beat that reminds me of the William Tell Overture. And Wharton’s keyboards do drive me up the wall. Phil’s narration (reverb and regular) is unintelligible and just plain silly.
Leave This Town had some potential with a cool bluesy rock opening, but it feels stunted. Also, regardless of who’s handling lead guitar, spend less time showing off fanciful tricks and play music. Another bit of narration by Phil with yet another cowboy back story was way out of place on this track as well.
No One Told Him was an attempt at reinvention of Dear Miss Lonely Hearts, with the exception that it was a dismal failure at finding a catchy pop sound. Then I was completely lost with Fats and Mexican Blood! What the fuck were these tracks doing on a Thin Lizzy album?! I couldn’t tell if Phil was trying to be a low-rent rocked up Cab Calloway for Fats intentionally. The lone bright spot for Mexican Blood was the acoustic Spanish guitar. Other than that it was nothing more than a cheap south of the border spaghetti western with a synth flamenco sound. Renegade tripped over its own feet going to #38 and #152 in the US.
Well looks like Scotty finally got off his ass between Black Star Riders gigs and recordings (will have a review of All Hell Breaks Loose sometime this life time) and gave the black sheep of the TL discography the “deluxe” treatment.
Taking a cue from Bad Reputation’s remastered re-release, Renegade was also a remastered single disc expanded edition with new CD sleeve art and cool liner notes. Now we all know this band was essentially a group of thirty-something burn-outs by 1981 drowning in smack and debt, but Philo managed to rally the troops and wave the Lizzy gold star red banner before changing lineups for the last time. So let’s talk about the sound, clean and crisp where you DON’T have to put the volume up to 15 on your cell phone or Ipod. Pro Tools cleaned house, enhancing Phil’s voice simply to adapt to the technology of our new professional and private entertainment systems. Despite the destruction drugs, drink, and smoking had done to Phil’s vocal cords, his delivery was at times just as powerful as the Jailbreak era. If he had lived, Phil would have matured into the artist he so desperately wanted to be.
Now let’s jump on those tracks. You get two additional versions of Hollywood (YAY!), the first is an extended cut, clocking in at 6:17. Scotty was awarded Metal Hammer’s 2013 Riff Lord Award, and this is a good demonstration of why. I know Robbo bitched about Bad Reputation being over saturated in riffs because Scott carried the can for the majority of the guitar work as Robbo was on probation. When it comes down to it, he’s an all-American rhythm guitarist, and maybe after 40 years of knowing the dude, Robbo may still not get it. The second nod and wink to Scott’s hometown was off the 7″ promo running at wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am 3:20. The harbinger of doom single Trouble Boys and its B side Memory Pain are also in the lineup. As far as I know the only CD release that Trouble Boys had was on the 1991 Greatest Hits collection that also featured the Lawrence Archer/Grand Slam ripoff Dedication that Scott and Downey re-recorded prior to the 21 Guns debut. I give it a pass, even though desperation at recreating the Rosalie success just reeked on that release. And finally, a cut of Renegade just 33 seconds shorter with a faster fade out. All-in-all I’d say buy it for the nostalgia, the remastering, and the few gems you can unearth. There’s no real way Scott and Downey can bring any more justice to it, it was just part of the simultaneous break down and evolution of a band that didn’t quite fit in with the 80s.
The last thing I wanted to get into was the CD liner notes and photos. Darren Wharton was infamously fucked when he was not given a feature for the back sleeve pics that depicted the four principal members of the band posturing with the Renegade flag. Well we finally get to see his photo on the third to last page! I wonder who has the flag and its battle axe topped pole? In the notes Downey stated that it was no secret to Phonogram that they were well aware of Phil and Scott’s heroin addiction, and made every effort to put them on the backburner. Phil was a perfectionist, and he drove producers up the wall when he recorded, so any roughs that the label was getting were probably sliding further down hill in the quality department. No matter what sort of gymnastics Morrison and O’Donnell were doing, they were getting fed up with Lizzy, but were powerless to stop Phil from spiraling. Phonogram clawed back so much money from Phil’s solo projects and Lizzy that promotion suffered. No one gave a tinker’s damn about Lizzy stateside, and fans found out about Lizzy concerts the day of the show. But you couldn’t ignore what they were doing to themselves, and it was evident during photo shoots from Black Rose. One shot had Phil leaning on his knee holding a black silk rose downward. But he looked ready to pass out, eyes nearly closed. In a group shot for Chinatown with a pair of Chinese models in qipaos and the guys in stylish overcoats, Scott was out of it and unable to look at the camera. You could make out Phil was most likely staggering around between shots. In Renegade it was worse. Scott looked drowsy and bloated in several shots, Phil seemed to be extremely agitated. Two photos reflected this mood change, the first in the two page spread (by Denis O’Regan) and another photo of this sad shoot is on Denis’ site. The second is the front of the back cover, and neither Scott or Phil were My Guy worthy.
Y’know I don’t give a fuck whether these guys had threesomes on every drug known to man, but it’s damn heartbreaking that they can’t be our heroes by their own volition. I suppose we have to grow up sometime.
P.S. Just got the dirt on Scott’s emergency room fashion disaster- by Scott himself! It was the final leg of the American Chinatown tour, and Lizzy was playing at the Ontario Theatre in DC. Scott was speedballing at the time (a deadly cocktail of coke and heroin, a pastime Phil engaged in as well according to Byrne’s new book), and he would fuck around with Downey jumping on and off the drum riser, when he miscalculated and crash landed on his knee. A roadie had to literally drag Scott with his guitar on his back to the backstage, and his knee swelled up to the size of a football. Now fashion dictated wearing skinny jeans, unfortunately it made the shit Scott got himself into, well, shittier. But despite all that, Scott finished the show- blitzed to the eyeballs. After that Scott got his cast and for the remaining weeks Darren Wharton had to dump him in a wheelchair and ferry him around the airports. Nothing like being 18-years-old and paying your dues in a big-ass European rock band.
P.P.S. To all of Savile’s victims, Operation Yewtree came too many years too late. The BBC and the British entertainment establishment knew of Jimmy Savile’s crimes and it would not surprise me if executives even witnessed his abominable acts right in Shepard’s Bush studios. Esther Rantzen is a hypocritical bitch, a secretary turned TV presenter to get into the gilded celebufucktard world who exploited herself to the married with three children Desmond Wilcox (who was more than likely a serial cheater) and only married him when she was pregnant with their oldest child (who I believe became an orthodox Jewish nutter to rebel and get attention), and then to sterilize her image (as well as get enormous tax breaks in a country that has state subsidized enterprises such as the NHS which is why many wealthy Brits emigrate and/or buy citizenship to other nations with dodgy tax laws) sets up a charity for children that are sexual abuse victims that was patroned by a monster. If I could have chosen a better clip for Hollywood, I would have done it, but there aren’t many to be had.