March 3, 2010

Classic Review: Thin Lizzy "Thunder and Lightning"

  Thin Lizzy - Thunder and Lightning, released March 1983. Produced by Chris Tsangarides. Standout tracks: Thunder and Lightning, Cold Sweat, Baby Please Don't Go, Heart Attack.

Last month, we revisited the first Black Sabbath record in the Classic Review. This month, on the 27th anniversary since these legends called it quits, we take a look at the final record by Thin Lizzy, called "Thunder and Lightning". Huh, we did a first last month and this month, a last. Not intentional.

Thin Lizzy was on its last legs, after years of line up changes, drug and alcohol abuse and half hearted releases that went no where and, in 1983, leader Phil Lynott, realizing it had ran its course, decided to give Thin Lizzy a fond farewell. He recruited a new guitarist in John Sykes and together, they crafted the best Lizzy release of the 80's in Thunder and Lightning. Sounding fit and ready to take on the young rock bands of the time, Lizzy went right for the jugular.
 Starting out with the killer title track, Thunder and Lightning never lets up with only a couple notable bumps along the way. Trying to sound current and desperate, songs like "The Holy War" and "The Sun Goes Down" seem a little out of place but maybe necessary because, had they been hits, maybe Lizzy would've tried to hang on for a little longer. The other noticeable "updating" that they tried was the addition of a keyboardist. While lots of bands have keyboardist and use them very effectively (Deep Purple!), for Lizzy it was a step in the wrong direction. While the title track is ferocious, the ridiculous keyboard solo quickly makes you raise an eyebrow and giggle a little. When you have two very good guitar players, why go and do that? Let’s hear that signature TL double harmony guitar solo!! Every record has its moments, I suppose, and thankfully, the rest of Thunder and Lightning is good enough to make you forget that annoying keyboard going on underneath the rock.

Everyone knows the standard Lizzy sing along tunes of "Jailbreak" and "The Boys Are Back in Town" but "Cold Sweat" is hands down, one of the best Thin Lizzy songs ever. Look it up and listen. They put it down on that tune. And if you don't believe me that its one of the best, go ask The Sword, who've recorded a version of the song that will be released later this year. I can't wait to hear that. I'm sure it’s a fitting tribute to an underrated song.

While Thunder and Lightning might not equal “Johnny the Fox” or “Bad Reputation” in the Lizzy catalogue, it is still in the top 5 of their output and ended up being a fitting end to an energetic, creative and, quite frankly, inconsistent recording career for this sometimes over hyped band. At times, they seem to be unmatched when focused, but the dangers of fame seemed to have infested them and brought down a once dominant band. Thankfully, while others have failed at this, they seemed to have saved one of the best for last.


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