Thin Lizzy – Live And Dangerous (1978): Review

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Produced by Tony Visconti
Label – Vertigo

Continuous claims by many critics and fans that this is the greatest live recording from the modern era have been scuppered by controversies over its validity as a “live” recording. Whilst it’s not unusual to use over dubs to enhance the recording, Thin Lizzy manager Chris O’Donnell stated that the album was only 75% live. To further slur the “Live And Dangerous” title, producer Tony Visconti reported to BBC Radio that “We erased everything except the drums, and even the audience noise was edited in”. Whatever inconsistencies shadow the recording, it’s still a formidably strong greatest hits album that highlights a band at the peak of their powers, and with a back catalogue of tried and trusted material that makes a double album easy to fill with memorable moments. With the classic duel guitar line up of Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson and powerhouse drummer Brian Downey in support, front man and bassist Phil Lynott takes center stage to deliver some of the best rock/pop of the decade. Lynott was a superb leader, with a magnetic persona that had all the charismatic charm to appeal to both male and female fans alike. He could convincingly deliver both the macho “Jailbreak” and “Warrior” as well as the tear jerking ballad “Still In Love With You” with both chest beating bravado and romantic affectation in equal measure.

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At over 75 minutes one would expect the entertainment to wane, particularly given that there are no visuals to enhance the experience, but on the whole the mix of full throttle hard rock, poignant ballads, swing influence and Celtic imagery make for a varied and enjoyable mix. The album fizzles out badly towards the end with the unnecessarily over long “Sha-La-La”, the self congratulatory “Baby Drives Me Crazy” and the over wrought “Suicide”. However, everything that precedes is a thrilling romp, and the two best songs, delivered consecutively (“The Boys Are Back In Town” and “Don’t Believe A Word”), are as slick and tightly delivered as they are hard as granite. Both Gorham and Robertson deliver some dazzling accompaniments and unlike many live rock recordings from the period, are economic with their sharply focused solo’s. Indeed, to deliver 17 songs is a testament to Lynott and his band’s endeavour to concisely provide the audience with a snapshot of their best, which they undoubtedly achieve.

Plunging headlong into this “live” set that mixes aggression, melody and skilful momentum, there’s little to deny that if this isn’t the greatest live album of all time, then it’s a glorious reminder that Phil Lynott’s band were certainly contenders as one the most important rock act of the 70s.

8/10

Track Rating
1 – Jailbreak (9)
2 – Emerald (8)
3 – Southbound (8)
4 – Rosalie/Cowgirl’s Song (8)
5 – Dancin’ In The Moonlight (8)
6 – Massacre (7)
7 – Still In Love With You (6)
8 – Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed (7)
9 – Cowboy Song (8)
10 – The Boys Are Back In Town (10)
11 – Don’t Believe A Word (10)
12 – Warrior (7)
13 – Are You Ready (7)
14 – Suicide (6)
15 – Sha-La-La (6)
16 – Baby Drives Me Crazy (6)
17 – The Rocker (7)

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