Thin Lizzy: Live at the National Stadium Dublin DVD Review

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.

Still in love with you Philo.

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.

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Thin Lizzy Renegade Review- UPDATE!

Nobody gives a break
When you’re down on your luck

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.

UPDATE!!!!

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.

Scott: Hey honey, if I punch myself in the face enough times, you think I'd wake up from this artistic nightmare? Christine: *HEADSLAP!*

Scott: Hey honey, if I punch myself in the face enough times, you think I’d wake up from this artistic nightmare? Christine: *HEADSLAP!*

Thin Lizzy Chinatown review

Before I begin this review, I’d like to give a big shout out to Mr. Martin Popoff for writing the amazing Fighting My Way Back: Thin Lizzy ’69-76. I always pop over to www.thinlizzyguide.com (the most comprehensive Lizzy fansite on the net, so much so the band gave them a thank you credit on the recently released Thin Lizzy At The BBC box set) to see what’s cooking, and there Popoff’s book just jump kicked me in the face, and the next thing I knew it was sitting on my doorstep. It’s a bitingly forthright account of Phil Lynott’s first years as a rocker in Dublin with Skid Row all the way to Lizzy’s smash hit record Jailbreak. It features yesteryear and current interviews with the band, management, crew, friends, producers, A&R, and the kitchen sink- basically, whatever the fuck that made the Lizzy three-ring circus go, so it’s rock n’ roll histrionics straight from the horse’s mouth, and I can’t wait for part two! BUY IT NOW MOTHERFUCKERS!!!

ThinLizzy-Chinatown(HQ)-Front

In Putterford’s book, The Rocker, longtime Lizzy manager Chris O’Donnell called Chinatown “Absolute garbage, and when Phil brought in a keyboard player for Renegade, that was it for me,” he groans. “A once brilliant band was turning into a pile of crap before my eyes.”

You can’t blame his brutality. Renegade was such an abysmal failure Lizzy was bankrupt at that point, the album reaching #38 on the UK charts, no promo videos made, the singles went nowhere (especially the infamous Trouble Boys cover that was dropped from the album altogether), Scott Gorham collapsed in Portugal due to heroin withdrawal and was forced back home, and Snowy White and O’Donnell bailed by the conclusion of the tour.

BUT the luck of the Irish chimed in for Chinatown, going #7 in the UK charts, racking up Lizzy a nice silver record, the single Killer on the Loose slotted in at #10 on the UK charts, and two promo videos were shot both directed by David Mallet (director of The Kenny Everett Video Show where both Lizzy and The Greedy Bastards made appearances). The silver record was highly deserved, three stars out of five. Why so harsh? Consider the conditions it was recorded under: heroin abuse by Phil and Scott for the past year-and-a-half, Phil’s lyricism was faltering due to constant touring stress and abrupt lifestyle change (marriage to Caroline Crowther on Valentine’s Day ’80 that quickly produced two daughters while Phil philandered), the mellow blues guitarist Snow White’s assimilation into the band, simultaneous production of Chinatown with Phil’s solo album Solo in Soho by novice producer Kit Woolven (an unsung hero during the Bad Reputation, Live and Dangerous and Black Rose eras as he served at Tony Visconti’s engineer), and Phil’s abject laziness when recording his lyrics.

Snowy White in Alan Byrne’s Thin Lizzy: Soldiers of Fortune: “A lot of the Chinatown album was made up in the studio, especially Phil’s lyrics. He used to leave his lyrics until the very last minute then light up a spliff and head for the vocal booth and sing off the top of his head. Because he was such a perfectionist he was always changing things and thus it was very time consuming, delaying the album release even more.”

Jerome Rimson: “I watched him record most of the Chinatown and Solo in Soho albums standing at a microphone and making up the words as he went along, and while he was singing there was a full blown party going on in the control room. Just think of it fifteen or twenty people in the control room raging while he’s in the vocal booth trying to rescue these albums.”

The album was recorded between April and August 1980 (a whopping FIVE fucking months before surfacing in October ’80!) at Good Earth Studios in Soho near London’s Chinatown. No doubt dragon-chasing and eating take-aways had some influence on Phil. The sad thing was, Lizzy was back on the grinding tour treadmill in May to break in Snowy as soon as his Pink Floyd contract was up and the quiet introduction of Darren Wharton for the band’s new keyboard section. Not to affront Darren, but I don’t think he was/is suitable for Thin Lizzy. I know Midge Ure played a role in that (him being part of the preposterous Lizzy lineup when Gary Moore split in July ’79 during the disastrous American leg of the Black Rose tour) considering he was a member of the prissy synth-pop band Ultravox (Vienna was single of the year at the ’81 Brit Awards making Ure a kajillionaire. Then he and Geldof teamed up for ’85’s Live Aid that made them media moguls but hasn’t done a damn thing for Ethiopia proving you shouldn’t give to “charities” that add to the problems of third world countries where corruption and and war are endemic, and poverty is ingrained into the culture- oh yeah, and they didn’t invite Thin Lizzy or Phil because according to Geldof “they weren’t that big”) but keyboards just didn’t give any real texture to Thin Lizzy’s sound, and at times I found them quite annoying, in Thunder and Lightning particularly. I know Phil was trying to change with the times, but he was failing at it. And NOBODY had the balls to give it to him straight (or were high out of their fucking heads). Another problem was the release of Lynott’s Solo in Soho album one month prior to Chinatown. This could’ve been the catalyst for Lizzy fans’ cool reception of the new material, and after listening to it on You Tube, I can’t blame them. The only (Lizzy-like) song I liked was Dear Miss Lonely Hearts (co-written by Jimmy Bain). Whatever the Phonogram A&R guys were smoking was probably responsible for the thought that King’s Call would be a hit. Now I’m not a real Dire Straits fan, but Mark Knopfler is too much of a straight man to play off Lynott’s rocker personae. If I were around at this period, I wouldn’t know what to make of shit either. Soho put a big fucking damper on the hard rockin’ hellraiser myth Phil created for himself. I’m not against musicians branching out, but not when your current award-winning formula is still being marketed. Cases in point, the Kiss solo albums being quite crap, and Freddie Mercury’s Mr. Bad Guy didn’t sell to me either.

Now we all need a good rock anthem as part of the “soundtrack of our lives” (Dick Clark, aren’t you dead yet? UPDATE: Dick Clark, November 30, 1929 – April 18, 2012. He lived up to his name), and We Will Be Strong is a hell of an anthemic rock song! What I will not accept is it being compared to Do Anything You Want To. The lyrics are weaker, and it’s just plain telling of the tragedy that would unfold over the next six years. I feel that Johnny the Fox was playing Philo’s mind and he was sticking to the script for image sakes. What I conjure up is a prematurely aging man shaking his fist to the heavens, thunderously proclaiming his last stand as his friends drape his arms around their necks to drag his broken, bleeding body away from a street fight that wasn’t meant to be won.

Now the album’s title track was hella slammin’! Thanks to Snowy, this blues rock riff-filled track has monster White hot licks that lash out. While Byrne describes Phil’s lyrics going between the “banal and lunatic”, I think he needed to delve into that sinister part of himself (and Thin Lizzy)- and if he visited it more often he might be still with us today. The promo is shit hot, but you could tell scary things were going on behind the scenes. Phil put on a few pounds, was stubbly-cheeked (as was Scott- for dramatic affect), and sweating like fuck! I know the band spent ten hours on the specially built set at Molinare Studios, and you melt under those hot-ass lights, but his menacing look fit the ambiance of the song. Brian Downey blasted away on those drums working them for all they were worth. Scott waved the Lizzy flag with gusto sexually assaulting his audience with a siren wailing solo, ushering in his brand new ’80s stage act that I dubbed “The Scott Gorham Russian Knee Dance Piss Take.” Don’t believe me, go watch their Rockpalast performance on You Tube! The only drawback was Snowy. Poor Snowy. For the playback (what a bitch!) “performances” that I’ve seen of Chinatown, he pushes himself too damn hard, and at times appears woefully wooden. I can’t help but think that that (along with time constraints) played a part in the too-early fade out on Lizzy’s usual TOTP stop.

Sweetheart is my guilty pleasure. Think of the thickest, heaviest, syrupiest slice of ice cream cake splattered on your plate at your best friend’s birthday cookout in 90-plus degree heat, ruining that Baby Phat blouse that was screaming at you in Burlington Coat Factory. It’s the kind of pop that almost doesn’t want me to murder Bon Jovi or those Irish jokes known as Bob Geldof and Bono. The thing is, I just don’t know what the fuck Phil is talking about. If you could decipher this, drop me a line in the comment section.

If I was to stand in a general election
Would you tell me about your close inspection
And how I never stood for detection
Or would you take another man?
If I told you I had the solution to starvation
All the nations would be their own salvation
And those that lead us lead us not into temptation
Or they pick another man?

Sweetheart
It’s affecting me
Sweetheart
It’s so effective
Sweetheart
Do you detect in me
A sacred sweetheart

If I told you about my plan would you believe me?
This is my body, my blood, would you receive me?
Or would you be the first to deceive me
And take another man

If I told you that I’m not the man to worry
Would you believe me when I said I was really sorry?
Or would you rush off in a hurry to take another man?

Sweetheart
Disconnect from me
Sweetheart
You have got no respect for me
Sweetheart
It’s affecting me
My sacred sweetheart

And when you’re troubled and when you’re ill
You know I’ll help, I always will
And when you’re troubled and really down
You know I’ll always be around
And when you’re troubled and really broke
There is hope, there’s hope, there’s hope

Sweetheart
It’s affecting me
Sweetheart
You’ve got no respect for me
Sweetheart
It’s so effective
My sacred sweetheart
Sweetheart
Disconnect
Sweetheart
It’s so effective
Sweetheart
It’s affecting me
My sacred sweetheart
Sweetheart
Sweetheart
Sweetheart

Killer on the Loose… am I the only Thin Lizzy fan that hates this song simply for the fact that it and it’s video is stupid? Now pop culture has been the scapegoat for society’s ills since time immemorial. The bunch of bitchy church ladies who get their rocks off of minding everybody else’s business condemning the song and Lizzy as proponents of serial killer Stuart Sutcliffe’s reign of terror have got to hop off the coke spoons for a bit. I disagree with Scott when he said it was tasteless on Lizzy’s part, but it was bad timing. Just to give the church ladies the finger, I would’ve kept it in the set. I don’t know why so many Lizzy fans hail this as the album’s best track, because when you read the lyrics it does dip into the nonsensical end of the pool (although nowhere near as bad as Yellow Pearl). Phil’s train of thought was starting to come off the rails on this one, and how clever Woolven muddied the lyric I’m a mad sexual rapist in the mix, because as an afterthought he knew Philo was treading dangerous waters with that one.

“I’ll be standing in the shadows of love
Waiting for you
Don’t unzip your zipper
‘Cause you know I’m jack the ripper
Now don’t wail, don’t…”

The voice warping was utterly cartoonish, Lizzy was reaching on that bit. The video harkened the band’s death knell. Everybody looked strung out, moody, and bored. The models couldn’t dance or emote, and weren’t pretty. They were anorexic freaks, and the makeup artist should’ve been drug out in the street and shot. The whole pickscraping solo made Snowy seem more awkward, Scott could give a shit, and Downey was clearly looking to clock out. They should’ve saved the money on that one and put it to making a promo for Hollywood.

Now Phil’s surreptitious nod and wink to coke (or smack depending on the slang you use) Sugar Blues is a great showcase for Snowy’s talents. It slows you down to get you down. But not too down because I’d rather do something else while listening to this track…

The last four tracks are nothing but filler fluff. The worst offender is the highly hooky Having a Good Time. Lazy-ass soundcheck is correct! Slapping some words together that rhyme while describing your off-stage antics with the Lizzies doesn’t make a song Phil. Genocide is a cousin of the Wild Horses’ Reservation, and a revisit of Massacre:

At a point below zero
There’s no place left to go
Six hundred unknown heroes
Were killed like sleeping buffalo

What makes shit more disturbing were the war cries Phil lets loose during Rockpalast. Didn’t I was a super-saturated ballad about “the one that got away” that dragged on for four minutes. Were the harpsichord and strings-sounding synth section necessary, I wonder? Not to mention certain verses sounding reminiscent of Toughest Street in Town. Closing out the album is Hey You, a little diddy about Phil feeling sorry for himself. You know, doing what he swore he’d never do that during the interview on that Irish chat show?

Forget all these backslappers
You don’t stand a chance
Why don’t you go home?
Go right back to where you come from
Don’t get involved in this masquerade
This big city is going to eat you up
All the backslapping
Hey you, you’ve got it made

Don’t we wish he would’ve taken his own advice?

P.S. I know Scott’s birthday is on St. Paddy’s Day, so I’ll wish him a happy 61st today because I’ll be too fucking wasted to post on the day. Happy B-day Scott! You rock! I love you!

P.P.S. And now for your aural/visual enjoyment, I give you the Lizziest track on the Solo in Soho album: Dear Miss Lonely Hearts!