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If there was ever one album that truly epitomizes cool, calm, and stylish all at the same time, it would be Thin Lizzy’s Nightlife. This album is basically the final album of the old Lizzy era, before they unleashed their twin guitar attacks. This album was made to boogey, and that is just what it is going to do. Showdown, and It’s Only Money are very funk influenced tracks. These tracks are mostly what I was referring to in the opening sentence of this review. There are plenty of tasty leads and solos, despite the lack of another guitarist going note for note in another octave.
This album can kick out some rockin’ acoustic stuff too. Hard rock with acoustic guitar thrown in is great, no? Yeah it is, fuck you. The performer of the song She Knows is Phil Lynott, of course (But when isn’t he? There are some occurrences I’ll get to later in the review). Here he belts out one of his most passionate vocal performances from any album. Nightlife is essentially a sequel to She Knows, as it contains the same acoustic driven force, and it features some more of Phil’s most passionate vocals. Unfortunately, they picked it as a pretty calm tune to end the album. Oh well, it’s classic Lizzy. If there’s one thing you can truly count on from the early Thin Lizzy albums, it’s that they’ll still have the same driving force that is Phil Lynott. This man’s heart is in his goddamn vocal chords, I swear.
The riffing on this album seems more loose and more unrestrained than on later albums. The entire thing really is more laid back than what Lizzy would do later. It’s Only Money throws in a lot of progressive drum beats underneath Phil’s almost rapping of the verse. No, it’s not really rapping. It’s like rapid catchy singing.
Songs like Philomena sort of bring out the best in Phil. It’s a song named after his mom, and his Irish accent is heavy as shit on this one. I don’t know if it was done on purpose, but it adds a special flair to the song. You can tell Phil’s heart is firing on all gears during this song. It also features a little bit of twin guitar action, but with a single guitar and the bass following suit. Pretty cool, really. There are a couple songs that simply don’t deliver in balls, and I’ll have to take some points away for that. Still In Love With You is a classic song. It’s great live. It features Gary Moore sharing vocal duties, and he is at times better than Phil. They’re both phenomenal singers, any way you cut it. It wasn’t made for a studio environment, unfortunately. Dear Heart is a heartfelt piano driven ballad, but it’s kind of lame. Banshee is a slow twin guitar tune. It actually sounds like the predecessor to their amazing Cowboy Song. It has a very western/cowboy type feel to it. Makes me want to go eat some nachos and bang some senioritas, que?
Holy shit is all I can say about Sha-La-La. Despite the title, this song is in no way, shape, or form pussy. This song is really funky. Like really fucking funky. It also features twin guitar leads! The drumming is total speed metal! This song is simply a sign of things to come. This is the type of stuff the band would put out later into the mid to late 70s, and this early prototype is just as good as any other Thin Lizzy song you could pick. Oh, and remember when I said Phil wasn’t the top performer on all songs? Yeah, here that goes to Brian Downey. About 2 and a half minutes in, he breaks into this great drum solo. The only sucky thing is, the drum solo is a lot better (and longer) on Live and Dangerous. After switching back to some guitar leads for a second, the song fades out on another kickass drum solo.
This album contains shades of what would become Thin Lizzy. All of the elements are in the cooking pot, and Phil just had yet to stir them until they were completely mixed. He’ll get that done on the next album….and the 8 that follow!