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THIN LIZZY Reissues Universal (2010)

Thin Lizzy

One of Ireland's best known, most successful and most influential classic rock bands get an overhaul of 3 of their best know albums. And judging by the end results here, I can only pray that it's the start of an entire catalogue programme that is long overdue and very deserving. It's so hard to believe it's 24 years since founder member Phil Lynott died.

The band's early history had been dogged by line-up changes, including tours completed with three guitarists (Gary Moore, Andy Gee and John Du Cann) who didn't last the course, with only the former laying down any recordings (which appeared on the Nightlife album). And with label trouble and singer/bassist Phil Lynott's Celtic angle conflicting with other members' blues influences, it took a little time for the band to settle, to find a comfortable direction.

1975's Fighting was the first album where the band and their new twin guitar really gelled, but here we start off with 1976's Jailbreak. The album kicks off with the title track and you are instantly struck by the excellent sound quality; the music is as clear as it is crunchy, the effects are all there.

An underrated classic is 'Angel The Coast', with some intricate guitar play on the intro. This is some of Brian Robertson's and Scott Gorham's best work, and the bass is solid yet non intrusive.

'Running Back' is a more commercial track, and 'Romeo And The Lonely' a ballad where Lynott's vocals take centre stage. The stand out track is the iconic 'The Boys Are Back In Town' which took the band into the charts around the world and has been heavily used on TV and radio ever since. And rightly so. From the catchy chorus to the rapped vocals and guitar harmonies, it's a classic rock song where everything comes together perfectly.

The album closes with 'Cowboy Song' and the brilliant 'Emerald', the latter a perfect balance of hard rock and Celtic tinge.

The second disc has some demo versions and four BBC sessions, but I'm not sure how necessary these Redux Remixes are. ****½

Later the same year, the band released Johnny The Fox, largely written by Lynott while recovering from hepatitis, which had forced the Jailbreak tour to be cut short. The album was a little more laid back in comparison, but from the opener 'Johnny' it's still heavy and classic Lizzy.

There is more of a smoothness to the album, even in the stand out solos. Here, the track to check out has to be 'Don't Believe A Word', which adds a hint of boogie and sees both guitarists working well together.

'Massacre' is one of the heavier tracks and hints at the previous album's 'Emerald'. ****½

Thin Lizzy

Skip forward to 1978 (1977's Bad Reputation was recorded largely without Brian Robertson who had injured his hand in a brawl), and the band issued a live album that replaced plans for a studio album. The resulting Live And Dangerous was recorded over the previous two tours, with from 25% to 75% studio overdubs, depending on the source you read. Either way, this is one of the best, most powerful, energetic and all round essential live (or part live) albums you will ever hear.

When a tight live band gets some studio tinkering, then remastered here, the sound is excellent and the versions of many Lizzy classics blistering.

Over two discs you get 19 tracks (including two previously unreleased Live & Dangerous outtakes), which opens with 'Jailbreak' and takes in 'Emerald', 'Dancing In The Moonlight', 'Rosalie', 'Don't Believe A Word' and 'The Boys Are Back In Town', the set closing with 'The Rocker'. The addition of 'Opium Trail' and 'Bad Reputation' make the album all the more alluring.

Yes Lynott's bass is up in the mix but then it often was.

There is a third disc, a DVD featuring 11 tracks, each in both video and 5.1 surround sound. *****

On this basis, the whole catalogue does need this treatment, pretty essential listening.

Review by Joe Geesin

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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