We give a little Irish to you this week with our Thin Lizzy Discussion! Greg Troyan of the band Lipstick and podcast The Lipstick Panel joins us to cover the Thin Lizzy discography. Join us as we take you through each album, giving detailed stories about the production and songwriting. Additionally, we provide our thoughts on each album, picking our favorite songs.
The Thin Lizzy history starts in 1971. Distributed by Decca Records and featuring the trio of Phil Lynott, Eric Bell, and Brian Downey, the first two albums, Thin Lizzy and Shades of a Blue Orphanage (1972), show a band struggling to find it’s signature sound. However, there are several solid tracks on the first two albums. The original lineup ends its run on a high note with 1973’s Vagabonds of the Western World.
The classic Thin Lizzy lineup gets its start with 1974’s Nightlife album. While new guitarists Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson display a bit of their future firepower on tracks like Sha La La and It’s Only Money, the album is markedly mellow with such laid-back tracks as the title track, She Knows, and Frankie Carroll.
1975’s Fighting album would see Thin Lizzy hone their sound into a tight, melodic hard rock. Tracks such as Fighting My Way Back, Suicide, and Freedom Song would show more edge while not losing melody. The ballad Wild One and moody Spirit Slips Away make Fighting a great album from front to back.
Thin Lizzy would burst onto the world stage in 1976 with the release of Jailbreak. The title track and breakthrough single The Boys Are Back in Town propels the band to a much larger audience. Additionally, this strong effort is rounded out with such musical gems as Romeo and the Lonely Girl and Emerald.
1976 would see two releases from the band. Johnny the Fox, while not as successful as the previous album, boasts an impressive track list. Songs like Don’t Believe a Word, Massacre, Old Flame, and Borderline would continue to show the diversity of song-craft from this band.
Furthermore, Thin Lizzy would continue to impress in 1977 with the release of Bad Reputation. While marred with personnel issues during production, the album still delivers. Brian Robertson is in and out of the band during the making of this release, leaving Scott Gorham to handle the bulk of the guitar playing. Nevertheless, Bad Reputation is loaded with fantastic songs such as the title-track, Opium Trail, and the heartfelt Southbound.
Thin Lizzy would document their awe-inspiring live sets with 1978’s Live and Dangerous. Produced by Tony Visconti, the album would becomes a musical gateway drug for many aspiring rock musicians. Named by many as the greatest live rock album ever created, it is a blistering live document.
Gary Moore, who had subbed previously over time for Brian Robertson, becomes a full member of Thin Lizzy in time for the next album. Black Rose: A Rock Legend is touted by many fans as the band’s finest work. Songs such as Do Anything You Want to Do, Waiting for an Alibi, and Sarah do a great job of showing up the band’s sense of melody and technical proficiency.
Gary Moore‘s tenure doesn’t last long and guitarist Snowy White is brought in for 1980’s Chinatown album. Considered by some as a letdown in comparison to Black Rose, it still boasts some impressive songs such as the anthemic We Will Be Strong, Sweetheart, and Killer On the Loose.
1981’s Renegade album is a divisive one among Thin Lizzy fans. The choices of keyboardist Darren Wharton and noted heavy metal producer Chris Tsangarides leaves some fans wondering if Thin Lizzy is abandoning their sound. While different, Renegade still has plenty of strong material including Leave This Town, No One Told Him, and the incredibly dark Angel of Death.
Thin Lizzy releases their final album in 1983. Thunder and Lightning is a strong way to go out. Featuring the playing of John Sykes and, again, produced by Chris Tsangarides, the album is a ferocious final sonic document of a band that should have ruled the world. Songs like the title track, Cold Sweat, and The Holy War close out the Thin Lizzy canon with a bang.
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