Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Phil Lynott: Thirty Years Gone



(I realized after posting, it was no longer 2016. It is actually 31 years since Phil Lynott's death. But I am running with this anyway.)

Today marks the 30th anniversary of Phil Lynott's death and it has been an even longer time that I have been singing his praises.

At a recent gathering of friends, an occasion where I had been asked to supply a playlist of music, the subject of bad songs had come up. I don't recall any of the conversation other than one friend suggesting Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back In Town," accompanied by the universal "two fingers in mouth" sign for gagging. She had been unaware of my love for Thin Lizzy and that song, until approximately 20 minutes later when the song began to randomly play off of my playlist.

It doesn't matter so much whether you like or dislike "The Boys Are Back In Town." What matters is the unfair tossing of both the song and the artist into categories where they simply do not belong. Thin Lizzy weren't "one-hit wonders." They weren't a "glam band." They weren't "heavy metal." Thin Lizzy were one of the most unique bands of their time, with an original twin-guitar sound that had not been heard before or since. It's lazy to simply define a band based on one song and it is easy for Phil Lynott's often brilliant, occasionally heartbreaking poetry to get lost in the haze of the music, which was played by one of the best drummers in rock and roll, Brian Downey, and some of the most melodic guitar gods of the 70's and 80's in Eric Bell, Scott Gorham, Brian Robertson and the late Gary Moore.

I don't suppose thirty years after his death I have a shot at changing the minds of anyone who considers "The Boys Are Back In Town" a novelty like C.W. McCall's "Convoy" or something as odious as Terry Jacks "Seasons In The Sun," two songs you will occasionally see on commercially available compilations along with Thin Lizzy. But I thought that minor injustice should at least be given a bit of a fight.

Below you will find a handful of songs showing a softer side of both Lynott and the band. These songs aren't meant to be definitive. They are not my favorite Thin Lizzy songs. But I do love them all. To these ears, they highlight all the qualities of a great band: good songs, great playing, hooks, memorable choruses. But mostly, they feature Phil Lynott's wonderful words, rhymes and phrasing.
















16 comments:

Mark said...

Lynott's 1980 SOLO IN SOHO is one fine album, and got next to zero attention upon release. The song, ODE TO A BLACK MAN (see https://youtu.be/-jhh3V7t9T4) from SOLO is to die for.

Shriner said...

I would never have even considered "The Boys are Back In Town" as a novelty track -- much less a "bad song". You need some new friends, Sal! ;-)

Though, that said, my interest in Thin Lizzy revolves around the hits (The Boys..., Jailbreak and Cowboy Song). It's a band I should probably appreciate more, but I don't know why I don't. (The same thing goes for Marc Bolan/T. Rex...)

buzzbabyjesus said...

The first few times I heard "The Boys Are Back In Town" I thought it was one of Bruce Springsteen's best songs.

Dr Wu said...

Thanks for sharing, Sal.
'I’d rather listen to Thin Lizzy-oh' - Belle and Sebastian

ken49 said...

Where should one go after Jailbreak, maybe not necessarily for the hard rocking Lizzy?

Chris Collins said...

"Live and Dangerous" is one of my favorite albums ever.

Sal Nunziato said...

Ken49,

Every record will have its hard rockers, but "Night Life," which is two records prior to "Jailbreak" has some great ballads and more acoustic guitar in general. Also, "Bad Reputation" is a great place to go after "Jailbreak."

Dayn McBee said...

Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Way back when, I wore out both my Jailbreak and Bad Reputation albums.

Jeff Duvall said...

Thin Lizzy is one of the few bands that buying the greatest hits album can actually give a new listener a pretty good overview of styles they covered.

Dancing in the moonlight, Bad Reputation the songs from Jailbreak, Don't believe a word, Wild one, Still In Love With You, Waiting for an Alibi...

Never have to skip a song.

A walk in the woods said...

Sal, you're solely responsible for me a) noticing Thin Lizzy at all beyond their radio hits that we all knew and b) me goin' on to become a big fan of them over these last few years.

My music tastes were formed in the late 60s, then the 70s - but I wasn't into Thin Lizzy then, totally off my radar. I perceived them as hard rock, which I wasn't and still am not into.

But now I see 'em as the street romantics - albeit quite rockin' - that they were. A corollary to Springsteen. I mean, nobody's mentioned "Old Flame" here - whatta damn song!

I now have almost all their albums, all in the 2-CD deluxe versions, which are a lot of fun. [Mark, that was a great tip to check out Phil's "Solo" album - I'll definitely get that one.] I love their twin-guitar attack, and there's something about Phil that makes you want to root for him. Great band.

Anonymous said...

I'm still a sucker for "Dancing in the Moonlight"even though their harder rocking songs as a whole are great

Anonymous said...

Your sentiments of Phil and Thin Lizzy reminds me of one of my guilty pleasures. The band Golden Earring I feel the same way about that band as you do about Lizzy. However I really never need to hear "Radar Love" or "Twilight Zone" again. But their albums "To The Hilt" "Mad Love" "Live" are never far from my turntable

Mark said...

I've searched the world wide web over for a live version of "Running Back To You," and have come to the sad conclusion that they never played that song live. If I'm wrong, someone please let me know! As far as I can tell, they've also never done "Romeo and the Lonely Girl" at the album speed, just a slowed down version. I consider those two the best, most moving one-two punch in the Lizzy catalogue, though there are of course many more highlights as others are saying.

dogbreath said...

Nice choice of songs. No argument from me. Lizzy were a great band, especially live, and Lynott's writing & singing on the ballads really showed his poetic, romantic side. I can still remember a 70s gig when his performance of "Still in love with you" had my then girlfriend in tears & swooning over him (the swine!). Every time I get to Dublin I always pay a visit to Phil's statue & thank him for the good memories. Cheers!

Steven Portela said...

It kills me that they are considered a one hit wonder by 95% of the people who even recognize them, and that people are sick of Boys Are Back in Town, which to me is a perfect rock song and recording. I guess if all you ever heard of Led Zeppelin was Whole Lotta Love you'd think they weren't that great either. Maybe a closer comparison is Black Sabbath- the vast majority only think Iron Man (thanks for all of this, classic rock radio).

Jimbo said...

Thin Lizzy brought joy to me whilst living in Ireland during the troubles. Phil made me read and research the history of Ireland and the legends of long ago, along with Horselips. Without Phil and Lizzy I doubt my moments of air guitar to Live and dangerous would have saved me a lot of aggro from my parents and damage to the furniture especially using a broom and playing emerald. People have different reasons for liking and disliking songs a bit like religion really, I grew up disliking the Osmonds but I have to say the album the Plan is really good but suspect most male rockers will not give it a listen but go to You tube and listen to "Hold her tight". I've learned over the years to listen to every and anything in music. You don't know if you like it if you haven't tried it. It's people like you who have great blog sites that make me listen to stuff I might give a wide berth to, so thanks for feeding my addiction.