Jailbreak (and to a lesser extent, Johnny the Fox) notwithstanding, even Thin Lizzy's most ardent fans would probably admit that the seventies Irish hard rock band was spotty at best when it came to their studio albums.
Not so as a live band however. Onstage Thin Lizzy was another story — some would say they were another band — entirely. With the classic lineup of vocalist/bassist Phil Lynott, drummer Brian Downey, and the dual lead guitar attack of Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson, Lizzy's high energy shows in fact earned them a reputation as one of the best live bands of their era. If there was a such thing as a don't-miss act outside of Zeppelin and the Who way back then, Thin Lizzy was it – or at least, they were about as close as you could get.
For that reason, Thin Lizzy's Live & Dangerous remains one of the seminal live hard rock albums of the seventies. Unfortunately, it's never had a sequel – at least, until now.
With the new Still Dangerous: Live at the Tower Theater Philadelphia 1977, the newly christened VH1 Classics label, along with the folks at Eagle Rock, have unearthed a gem of a long lost Thin Lizzy show.
Culled from tapes recently discovered by guitarist Scott Gorham, the CD captures Thin Lizzy playing their asses off at a Philadelphia show, a concert remixed and remastered here by legendary Rolling Stones producer Glyn Johns — who came out of retirement to do the honors. The only question here is, how on earth could a show this smoking hot have sat in a box gathering dust all these years?
What you hear on this CD is the sound of a still hungry band just coming off a successful tour that most observers felt was about to propel them to that next level of superstardom. They sound like it too. On the album's ten tracks, Lizzy sound like a much tighter band than they ever did on Live & Dangerous. Yet they match the energy of that classic show riff for riff. The dual leads of Gorham and Robertson — which predated the southern-rock model of bands like the Allmans and Skynyrd by a few years — cut particularly sharp here, proving just how underrated they really were.
For his part, Lynott keeps things mean and lean as well, particularly on the nicely segued triplet of "Jailbreak," "Cowboy Song," and "The Boys Are Back In Town." Eschewing his occasional tendency for verbiage of the sort worthy of Springsteen, Lynott is strictly business here. The band rips through these songs with the sort of energy that almost leads you to believe they had a plane to catch or something (and I mean that as a compliment).
Where Live & Dangerous might represent a full course meal in the grand scheme of a great live document, Still Dangerous: Live at the Tower Theater Philadelphia 1977 plays more like the sort of tasty appetizer that leaves you hungry for more. For those already aware of Lizzy's credentials as a great band, this CD will be a nice surprise. For those newer to the band, this is a great place to start.