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If I had a buck for every time the songs herein have made my life better I’d be in a permanent blissful stupor. Seriously, for me this is where the Thin Lizzy story really hits it’s stride in every sense. Phil Lynott had honed his song craft skills so sharp they can cut without even being unsheathed, while the band’s performing skills are simply second to none. I once heard somebody say that they felt Prince was so talented that he could do whatever he wanted to musically. Hear, hear, and I must stress that in 1977, Thin Lizzy was a similar proposition.
Kicking of with the regal and visionary “Soldier Of Fortune,” it become clear Lizzy were so far ahead of their metallic time it would take everybody else years to catch up with them. With seemingly no effort, he band peel of this mournful but determined tale with the ease and posture of people so good at their métier that they barely have to try. Good enough to make you cry, this is a true classic. It’s also a tad forlorn for an album opener, and thus the band blast back with the ballsy title song next, a fast, short and tough number that warns about the perils of high living, and friends, if you’re going to listen to anyone on this subject, Thin Lizzy are the guys to pay heed to.
Lynott’s own high living and it’s price are in full frontal concern on “Opium Trail,” a terse and desperate number that reveals the tragic and twisted honesty of the man’s writing. And then…”Southbound.” This lyric of dead cities and dejected hope is another Lizzy landmark, not only due to it’s tragic lyric, but the inventive playing and arranging that fuel this one are truly moving. “Dancing In The Moonlight,” a hit for the band overseas is clever, bouncy, catchy, and so totally un-metallic that people have been caught bitching on websites that it proves Lizzy was not a metal band at all (insert expletives and harsh slang about body parts here). I must say that the album’s remainder is not quite as strong, but damn, fool! When you’ve got three of the best heavy metal songs ever written on one side of a single album, you must feel good about it.
Sad to say, the sun was setting on the band commercially at this point, and an increased reliance on drugs and drink would really start to eat away at Lizzy’s wiring in the years to come. Even more impressive then, that as these weights crushed down on the band, they would still make a few of their best albums ever. Now, that’s impressive.