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This is the most forgotten album in the discography of Thin Lizzy, along with “Chinatown” and the Eric Bell stuff. By the end of the 70’s, it seemed that Lynott and co. were unable to face the changes in the rock scene, the old-fashioned cliches of classic rock became predictable and tedious. Although “Black Rose” was a successful record with some good songs, the listeners demanded something more fresh. Phil began to experiment with elements from reggae, funk, pop and techno on his solo debut record, but the bitter result made things get more and more uncertain for his career. It was obvious that a sequel of “Chinatown” would satisfy nobody, and that it was the right time to change the music direction at once. But they didn’t...
“Renegade” doesn’t offer anything different from “Chinatown”, that was the biggest mistake. The sound got stuck in the same tactics and tricks, in fact there’s a more evident lack of inspiration, ideas and originality. It’s clear that the immaculate melodic riffing, the verses and the skilled guitar jams on “Leave This Town” and “The Pressure Will Blow” had been done and heard before. The most pleasant tracks are the epic “Angel Of Death”, the melancholy “Renegade” and “Hollywood (Down On Your Luck)”, which are more of the same casual bluesy traditional rock on previous releases, but this time the convincing instrumental display of the string section, Darren Wharton’s keyboards, and the satisfying combination of White with Gorham provide the songs of a more coherent and competent sound. The weakness and emptiness that can be found on “It’s Getting Dangerous” and “No One Told Him” make clear that Lizzy weren’t on a fine hour. That couple of tunes could be sung a cappella, because the instruments are just a humble background support to the lead vocals. The lyrics are nothing new either: western, shotguns and magnums, cheesy love stories, broken hearts... The poetry of Lynott becomes dumb and decadent. Sad to see how the legendary glory of the group faded away, the group transformed into a slow clumsy rock dinosaur that gets stagnant in the past sounds of yesterday.
“Fats” and “Mexican Blood” are the bizarre songs on “Renegade”. The weird experiments of Lynott’s “Solo In Soho” go on, this time under the name of Thin Lizzy. The music gets jazzy, elegant and refined with the excellent classy piano performance of Wharton. There’s time for romance, exotic sounds, acoustic guitar melodies, mellow soap box opera lines and tribal percussion. The result of those experiments? Forgettable. On other hand, I must say that although the song-writing is dumb and the songs are musically weak, the band’s performance is professional and passionate. I highlight the guitar job of Snowy White, the guy who joined the band in the wrong time and that has always been ignored behind the fame of Gary Moore and Brian Robertson. I’ve heard everything Scott Gorham has done and everything he has taken part on (he’s my favorite guitarist), and I’m sure he never felt so comfortable and confident working with any other guitarist than White, that’s the conclusion I get from the perfect synchronicity of the guitar work on this long-play, whatever the result was. In fact, the memorable melodic lead breaks on “The Pressure Will Blow” and “Hollywood (Down On Your Luck)” will remain as one of the greatest moments in the history of Lizzy.
Fortunately, the band would rise from their ashes on “Thunder And Lightning”, but that’s another part of the story. Tsangarides horrible production, the lame songs, the unsatisfactory general result... Everything made clear that Thin Lizzy were down on their luck, Lady Chance didn’t dance.
Ok, there are several factors that don't concern music that led to this album being sub-par in contrast to the slew of classics that preceded to it. Granted they are KINDA related to music, but still beyond anyone's control:
-the production. Flatter than an anorexic 5th grader. There was a new producer on board who obviously had NO idea how to handle the Lizzy sound. The reliance of keyboards and how they sound doesn't help either. All together the guitars sound TERRIBLE. A weak hum in the background when they should have been ballsy and up front.
-Phil addicted to everything. He is out of it. Most of the album he is partially flat in his peformance, and you can tell he is struggling. You can tell he isn't all there because this cd doesn't seem to have a drug song on it. Usually he sings about warning himself. Apparently he has lost control. Though this is only a minor part of the cd. The song writing is still solid. Which just proves Lynott was god.
-Snowy White should have never been involved with Lizzy. You could hear his weaknesses on Chinatown, and now they are even more apparent. Any other Lizzy guitarist would have made this album classic.
Alright now the cd. Remember, all songs suffer production. "Angel of Death" starts out with haunting keyboards and driving gallop that carries the whole song. Good epic here. Vader even covered this tune.
Renegade is really weak. It has potential, but it never goes anywhere, and the circles its runs in aren't very engaging. Its too long as well.
Pressure Will Blow. VERY SIMPLE. VERY EFFECTIVE. Production kills it, but this is a solid hard rocker that could be on any Lizzy affair.
Leave This Town. Catchy and rocking. Nothing annoying here except the spoken part at the end. Keeps the tempo up.
Hollywood. CLASSIC TUNE.
No One Told Him. Filler. But good catchy filler. Lynott's poetry really picks up an otherwise dead song musically.
Fats. Filler. Jazzy filler. Its good for experimental sake. If you like that sort of thing...
Mexican Blood. I love this song, a nice little tale of a mexican girl and her criminal boyfriend. Very enchanting. Weak part is again, production.
Its Getting Dangerous. Good tune. I guess this is kinda the "warning" song of the album, but it doesn't really pick up and do anything noteworthy.
Overall the album is fine. For Lizzy fans it is definitely a must, but thats a give in. For casual hard rock fans, it has some of that Lizzy charm, but of course you are much more suited for Jailbreak.