Friday, May 12, 2017

Thin Lizzie (Phil Lynott 1949 - 1986 : Gary Moore 1952 - 2011)



For over a decade Thin Lizzie was one of the most successful rock bands in the world. The trio of Phil Lynott (bass player), drummer Brian Downey and a string of flamboyant lead guitarists including Scott Gorham, Gary Moore and Snowy White, gave the world a taste of Celtic Rock, long before U2 were to braze a similar trail. Their mystique was fashioned upon a combination of romantic Celtic imagery and tough macho cool, both superbly crafted by the front man, Phil Lynott. Labeled progressive rockers, they broke with tradition and released an updated arrangement of a traditional Irish folk song "Whiskey in the jar" (1973).



It made the top ten but left them with the label of folk rock, the aftermath meant they had to wait another three years to overcome. The next song came from their Vagabonds of the Western World album, released in 1973, and just about sums up what Thin Lizzie were all about at the time.



Jailbreak proved a commercial breakthrough with success on both single and album fronts. Thin Lizzy toured extensively to sell out concerts. By this time the trio had been joined by Brian Robertson and Gorham and Robertson were both hard rocker players with their roots anchored firmly in the blues. Their guitar harmony lines provided a quirky lyrical side to the group’s instrumentation and both musicians adequately supported each other's solos with crunching power cord, rhythm work. The boys are back in town was released from the same album and became a firm favourite with pop pickers around the globe.



Don't believe a word was another hit single from their immensely successful Johnny the Fox, released in 1976.



Despite the public acclaim the band continued to be in a state of flux. When Brain Roberston severed an artery in his arm their touring had to stop. later however Queen invited Thin Lizzy to tour with then in the US. Fellow Irishman, Gary Moore was invited to join the band and off they went to more success, stateside. By the time they came to record Bad Reputation, Moore had left and they were back to a trio.



Ironically Lynott was fast gaining a reputation of a difficult artiste much of which was related to his ego and drug addictions. The punk revolution of 1977 had no effect on the popularity of Thin Lizzy. Indeed Phil Lynott, the lepricon, and Jimmy Hendrix lookalike formed his own punk band for fun. Despite this Thin Lizzie could record a good love song. Dancing in the moonlight was no exception albeit it may have been a bit quick tempo compared to most.



Lynot sang thick soulful vocals which was a perfect vehicle for his tightly written melodic lines. Downey drove the band while the others played leading lines in harmonic tandem. They were masters of their music genre. Live and Dangerous album was the band's next project. It was a double disc and featured recording of the band playing live. Still in love with you is considered by some to be the best recording they ever made.



On tour again the band made their way across America and onto Australia. Not the most eventful trip which was full of turbulence for the band but their Australian fans appreciated the effort. When they returned to London it was back to the studio to begin work on another album. When the band toured Australia in 1979, Thin Lizzy were at their peak of success and considered by many to be one of the most popular working acts in the business. But the band membership was unstable and when Gary Moore was sacked during another US tour, he was replaced by Midge Ure (Ultravox). Later Darren Whyte took over from Midge who went on to mastermind Live Aid with Bob Geldorf. Phil was becoming more difficult as he slipped into deeper dependency but it did not prevent him from writing more love songs, this time, dedicated to his daughter, Sarah.



Parisiaenne Walkways was recorded with Gary Moore in the lineup.



Whilst there were many competent replacements for the Irish guitarist, his presence was every bit as charismatic as Phil Lynot, and their music together the better for their partnership. A new line up meant changes in musical direction and the group's music fell between heavy metal and pop. The band called it a day at the beginning of 1983 but Thin Lizzy had in their comparatively short career contributed much to the history of rock music. Phil Lynot died in 1986 and Gary Moore passed away in 2011.





Worth an listen:
Whiskey in the jar (1973)
The Rocker (1973)
Jailbreak (1976)
The boys are back in town (1976)
Don't believe a word (1976)
Bad Reputation (1977)
Dancing in the moonlight(1977).
Still in love with you (1978)
Rosalie (1978)
Waiting for an alibi (1979)
Do anything you want to (1979)
Sarah (1979)
Parisiaenne Walkways (1979)
Killer on the loose again (1980)

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