Thin Lizzy – Still Dangerous: Live at the Tower Theatre Philadelphia 1977

January 01, 1970

(VH1 Classic)



This recently discovered live recording catches Thin Lizzy
near its peak, on the late 1977 US
tour in support of Bad Reputation. The band’s distinctive dual guitar
sound – the foundation for a whole generation of British metal bands – is in
full flame here, and the live production, emphasizing the low-end far more than
studio releases, gives a sense of just how powerful the band’s rhythm section
was in a concert setting. Moreover, Phil Lynott, by all reports a troubled,
difficult frontman, seems relaxed and happy, his Irish brogue thickening and
thinning as he introduces his songs and band.



It was a period of relative calm for this always contentious
band. Phil Lynott had been ill with hepatitis during much of 1976, but was
generally healthy again. His definitive line-up, the one from Jailbreak,
Johnny the Fox and Bad Reputation had reconvened again with Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson on guitars and
original drummer Brian Downey. Robertson had been kicked out of the band in
1976, when he broke his hand in a fight, but had returned for the Jailbreak sessions as a “guest” and now was back in the line-up. (Though not for long. He
would leave again for good in 1978.)    



Still Dangerous comes from roughly the same period as
Thin Lizzy’s first official live album, Live and Dangerous, which went
to #2 in the UK
and cemented the band’s reputation as a ferocious performer. Yet unlike the
sanctioned “live” album, this one is actually live, no retouching, no overdubs.
As you might expect, its versions of classics like “Boys are Back in Town,”
“Jailbreak” and “Cowboy Song” are far rougher than the studio incarnations –
but they are also more evenly mixed, so that you can hear the bass and drums. The
cartwheeling guitar interplay is still there, still exhilarating, and Lynott’s
singing is just as wonderfully soulful and warm even at its loudest. But here,
you get more of a band sound than you ever heard on the radio, an intimation of
just how heavy and propulsive Lynott’s bass playing was and how integral Downey’s drumming.
(“Massacre” turns almost tribal in this version.) 



You also get a real sense of Lynott the showman, leading the
crowd in handclaps through “Cowboy Song,” basking in the cheers for big songs
like “Boys are Back in Town” and “Jailbreak,” promising “sex and sax” from new
single “Dancing in the Moonlight,” easing the audience into an as-yet-unheard
song called  “Opium Trail.” 



This line-up of Thin Lizzy lasted through just one more
album (Live and Dangerous), and as the 1970s ended, punk rock began to
push aside the kind of outsized, guitar-centric music that Lynott specialized
in (although it should be noted that Lynott also maintained his credibility
among the punks, even teaming with former Sex Pistols Paul Cook and Steve Jones
in the intentionally short-lived combo the Greedy Bastards). Guitarists began
to come and go with alarming speed, and Lynott’s substance problems to catch up
with him.  Thin Lizzy continued to tour
and record, but never reached the peak of creativity and popularity of the late
1970s. Still Dangerous is a time
capsule, a window onto a great band at its absolute best, in its natural,
large-scale concert habitat.    



Standout Tracks: “Jailbreak”,
“The Boys are Back in Town” “Cowboy Song” JENNIFER KELLY


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