There are certain bands who hold an undeniable legacy. They are so firmly cemented in rock history and so valuable that it would be futile to argue against their esteemed status. Walk into any pub on a Saturday night and its almost guaranteed that The Boys Are Back In Town will be bursting from the jukebox. Read any “Greatest Live Albums” poll and 1978’s Live And Dangerous will feature in the top five, and have you ever seen Dan Hawkins of The Darkness wearing anything other than a Thin Lizzy t-shirt? The influence of the classic Irish quartet runs through three generations as effortlessly as water pouring from a tap.
The most revered line-up of bassist/frontman Phil Lynott, guitarists Brian Robertson and Scott Gorham, and drummer Brian Downey had a knack for creating infectious, melodic ’70s rock that switched effortlessly between hard rock, pop and blues. This astutely compiled collection of 36 glorious tracks, which includes a taste of Lynott’s solo material, inspired photos of the band and a brief but insightful foreword, aptly demonstrates Thin Lizzy’s seemingly unrestrained talent.
The obligatory inclusion of tough rockers The Boys Are Back In Town and Jailbreak alongside the delicate Sun Goes Down, the tender emotion of Still In Love With You and the laidback and sensitive Sarah, highlight Lynott’s powerful yet soulful vocals. Rock and soul are two styles that would appear in theory to be the antithesis of each other but Thin Lizzy were a fine exemplification of how to successfully merge the two. Listen to songs like Don’t Believe A Word, Bad Reputation and, of course, Whiskey In The Jar for solid proof of their superlative musicianship.
It is difficult to mention stand-out tracks because each song holds particular merits for one reason or another, such as Black Rose which cleverly uses twin guitars in unison like the folk music of their homeland, or Are You Ready which sounds like good, early Saxon and Rocker which opens with a gritty but memorable riff and includes some passionate John Bonham-style drumming.
Thin Lizzy was the training field for Whitesnake guitarist John Sykes, and fellow Irish guitar legend Gary Moore, who made a comeback by replacing Robertson as lead guitarist in 1979 on the excellent Black Rose album which peaked at Number 2 in the UK charts. Robertson would later have a brief and forgettable stint in Motörhead.
Two Gary Moore and Phil Lynott (post-Thin Lizzy) tracks make an appearance: the out-dated Out Of The Fields and Parisienne Walkways, the song which is considered to be Moore’s signature theme. Other Lynott solo material includes Yellow Pearl and King’s Call (a tribute to Elvis Presley) which are taken from his first solo album, 1980’s Solo In Soho.
Thin Lizzy lived the typical drug-induced, hedonistic rock lifestyle which ultimately led to their demise and Lynott’s self-destruction. He died from internal abscesses and blood poisoning on January 4 1986. This band-approved Greatest Hits collection is an inspired tribute to the legendary rock star.
When listening to Whiskey In The Jar or other classic tunes here, it’s hard not to think of Lynott’s infectious grin as he plucks his bass strings and sings his heart out into the microphone. A couple of previously unreleased live tracks will probably allure even ardent fans, despite them owning every other track. Otherwise, for the casual listener and someone who wants to take a bite of classic ’70s/early ’80s rock, this really is an essential purchase.