Thin Lizzy - Greatest Hits
Thin Lizzy are possibly the world's second greatest pub band and have a fan base that includes such luminaries as Les Battersby but why? Listening to the compilation, nothing is more obvious than the fact that, when all is said and done, Thin Lizzy where a band terminally restrained by their lack of real talent or artistry. Now, that's not to say that they aren't any good, far from it, but they lack the magic X factor that makes a band truly great. What they did manage to do was churn out song after song that would probably end up as best song in the jukebox in some dull provincial village - where after a hard day down t'pit, various local characters would drink the night away to the sounds of Status Quo’s 'Caroline' followed by Lizzy's 'Whisky In The Jar' or the ultimate Friday night drinking song, 'The Boys Are Back In Town'.
It's 'The Boys Are Back In Town' that kicks off this compilation and it does sound great, for some reason. There seems to be some kind of digital trickery going on, but it sounds crisp and fresher than ever. And come on, if you don't think it's an absolutely wonderful song, there's something wrong with your ears and your heart. It's never sounded better than it does here so there's reason one for buying it. Reason two, if you're a die hard fan, is those brand new, never before heard live tracks, The Boys Are Back In Town and Cowboy Song, both recorded at Sydney Opera house in 1979. They both sound absolutely spanking brand new and fresh; Lynott's voice is high in the mix, and there's a tangible 'live' vibe to them. They don't sound like the recorded versions either, but are powerful and, surprisingly, quite moving.
The CD notes, written by one Phil Alexander, make much of the bands likeliness to The Darkness, for some reason, and, well, there might be something in it if you glanced idly at the bands in a dark room, but The Darkness, big old fakes as they are, could never in a million years reproduce the sort of soul and feeling present in these here tracks. Something like The Sun Goes Down or Emerald can never really be replicated again and certainly not by a bunch of post-modern irony rockers.
The other reason you might want to invest in this is for its inclusion of some of Phil Lynott's solo work. You're better off never, ever listening to his collaboration with Gary Moore for Out In The Fields which contains, in three awful minutes, all the very worst elements in rock music - daft lyrics, overblown choruses and a deep sense of utter irrelevance. What is mystifying is that it's followed by another of his collaborations with Moore, Parisienne Walkways which was an absolute gem of a song then, and still is now. It's lovely, warm guitar work still haunts. You also get the quite hilarious Yellow Pearl which he wrote with Midge Ure and is a bizarre electro-pop sci-fi tale of something or other. Still, it's not as bad as Out In The Fields and in it’s own way is quite good and surprisingly modern. In many ways, the mix of rock and electronica was about twenty years ahead of its time. Lynott, of course, appeared on that other classic of 70's pomp rock Jeff Wayne’s The War Of The Worlds and this song seems very much influenced by that. It ended up as a theme to Top Of The Pops of course, and here it is, in all it's weird glory.
So there you go, there are a few good reasons for adding this to your collection. The only thing to be said against it, really, is that it's Thin Lizzy for god's sake. When all is said and done, they're simply a 'meat and potatoes' pub rock band that sometimes managed to plumb the most awful depths of mediocrity. Listen to Black Rose which combines the worst pomp rock themes with some especially turgid imagery and guitar work. Do you really want something like that in your collection? It's like something they stole from the dustbin of The Tygers Of Pang Tang. On the other hand, when the stars where aligned correctly and someone had added something to their water, they were capable of creating something truly special, like The Boys Are Back In Town. On this particular release, though, the good outweigh the bad by a fairly high margin and you won't really be disappointed with it. The new tracks are another nice bonus and you can even watch their videos by logging on here and slipping in the CD. A very nice touch.