CD Reviews

Thin Lizzy - 'Nightlife' / 'Fighting' (Deluxe Editions) Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     August 17, 2012    
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Re-issues of two Thin Lizzy albums.

Despite a modicum of success as a three piece (with Eric Bell on guitar), primarily on the back of the ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ single, many regard the period with Brian Robertson and Scott Gorham in the band as the most creative and memorable. The Lynott/Downey/Gorham/Robertson line-up was responsible for five studio albums and one live release between 1974 and 1978 but I guess it was only years later that these records were recognised as classics. The recruitment of the fiery Glaswegian Robertson and laid back Californian Gorham, following Bell’s departure at the end of 1973, would be the catalyst for the band’s greatest successes and the perfect medium to project the charismatic Lynott’s developments as a writer.

Though still overlooked by many, the importance of ‘Nightlife’ cannot be ignored. In some respects the two new guitarists were still finding their feet but their performances are a good indication of what was possible musically and how both players’ distinct styles could complement each other. Phil Lynott’s work on the band’s first three albums was admirable but it was the ‘Nightlife’ sessions that would give the first real indications of just how creative he could be and though the record has been criticised in the past for it’s somewhat low key approach it was the first steps towards that indelible Lizzy sound. This is the first time I’ve had a re-mastered copy of the album, so cannot compare it to any other versions that have been available previously and in fact it was the material on the bonus disc that made this ‘Deluxe’ edition so appealing. The extras include 6 tracks from BBC sessions recorded in October 1974, the demo versions of 3 ‘Nightlife’ tracks featuring Gary Moore on guitar and alternate takes of ‘Showdown’ and ‘Still In Love With You’. If I’m honest ‘Nightlife’ is one of the Lizzy CDs I re-visit least and the fact that only ‘Still In Love With You’ and ‘Sha-la-la’ made it in to the ‘Live and Dangerous’ set-list is testament to its limited commercial achievements. Hardly essential I know but I’d sooner have one of the weaker Thin Lizzy albums from the 70s instead of some of the other releases from that era held in higher regard.

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Less than 12 months after ‘Nightlife’ hit the shops, on the back of constant touring, the band were in the studios again recording a follow-up and ‘Fighting’ was finally released in October 1975. It was immediately noticeable that the sound and performances were tougher and had a lot more energy than ‘Nightlife’. This was partly due to the writing but also due to the fact that the band had gelled as a tight musical unit from so much time on the road. Gorham and Robertson are on fire at times, the structure of the songs allowing the pair plenty of room to flex some serious six-string muscle. ‘Suicide’ is a fine example, the extended soloing eclipsing anything they had achieved on the previous release. Covering Bob Seger’s ‘Rosalie’ was also an inspired way to open the record, many believing that the song actually belonged to Lizzy. It was also apparent that the burden of writing did not just fall primarily on Lynott. Both Gorham and Robertson made notable contributions to the songs on ‘Fighting’ though Lynott still takes the most credit for their creation, his compositions displaying a maturity belying his age. Once more the bulk of the material on the bonus disc is made up of BBC sessions and alternate takes. Some of these are decidedly throwaway and is just filler but it's nice to hear the vocal of 'Try A Little Harder' and extended 'Leaving Town'.

Andy Pearce has done a good job cleaning up the sound on both releases and Malcolm Dome adds some detailed notes alongside the quotes from Robertson and Downey. Admittedly Thin Lizzy would receive greater accolades for future records but without the work done on 'Nightlife' and 'Fighting' who's to say how great the band would have become?

Now how about 'Renegade' and 'Thunder And Lightning'

Dave Bott

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