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Their best up to this point - 91%

TrooperEd, June 18th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2011, 2CD, Vertigo (Remastered, Deluxe edition, Digipak)

Thin Lizzy trades Brian Robertson for Gary Moore and the result is one of the most, if not the most consistent Thin Lizzy efforts ever. For all his iconoclastic tendencies, Moore manages to park his butt with the Lizzies not just to shred circles around everyone (Scott Gorham admitted it was impossible for him to harmonize on some of Moore's licks in the studio), but to contribute compositions as well. Lynott and Moore made a hell of a songwriting team, and it just makes you curse Moore for not staying put with the band from the beginning (he first did session work with the band on 73's Nightlife), especially when you consider how many times they would reunite and write together. Hell "Out In The Fields" would have fit right in on Thunder & Lightning!

Though I have to say the choices for singles are slightly questionable. The first time I heard Do Anything You Want To and Waiting For An Alibi I thought they were weak attempts to re-write The Boys Are Back In Town and Jailbreak, respectively. Do Anything's main riff seems to be lifting TBABIT's chorus harmony lick and Alibi seems to be borrowing Jailbreak's rhythm and bass line. To your average ignorant fan, they might hear the first few seconds and think all of Thin Lizzy's songs sound the same as a result. Still, there is one thing DAYWT has that Boys doesn't, and that is one of the greatest lyrical performances in music: "People that despise you will analyze then criticize you, They'll scandalize and tell lies until they realize, You are someone they should have apologized to." If you listen carefully you will hear Bob Dylan chucking his motorcycle through his TV. Black Rose is likely Phil's finest moment as a wordsmith and lyricist. There's all sorts of brilliantly sly and wry lines peppered throughout this beauty, "With Love" probably being the most heartbreaking, if that's what you come to the Lizzy gigs for (nothing wrong with that).

While the two singles are songs I've come to appreciate, for my money, the classics on this are riff-ripper Toughest Street In Town, the sadistically funky S&M and Got To Give It Up, the happiest ode to brutally dying of heroin ever put to vinyl. There is still the token dumb "Fight or Fall" moment in the form of Sarah, an ode to Lynott's newly born daughter, but I suppose if you're a Doctor Who fan you could always imagine it as the sound track to one of those AMV Elisabeth Sladen tribute videos.

The title track, Black Rose is almost, ALMOST a perfect song. The only thing missing is about 90 seconds of a proto speed metal Ride The Sky exciter type of moment which would serve as a perfect climax to the "Danny Boy" section (or is it Mason's Apron? They never exactly point out which section is which). The section in question, which starts around 4:04, is drum roll/irish jig/thrashy section which sounds like a fuse being lit that's set to explode into a Judas Priest type of moment except it never does. Really this is the only part of the song that makes it sound like any sort of epic. The rest is just the same rhythm with some (admittedly excellent) alternating lead guitar work playing some old Celtic melodies. In other words, it sounds like they're trying to make a Rush epic but didn't quite go all the way (blame that on the heroin). Don't take this as slander, as its still one of the greatest Thin Lizzy tracks, but it had the potential to be even grander. And why the fuck can't Thin Lizzy have a sweeping epic under their belt?

Black Rose fucking owns; An essential album. There's no reason for any metal, nay, any rock fan to not own this. The only reason I could think of someone not buying it at the store on sight is if they also see Thunder & Lighting on the shelf and are stuck with a choice between the two. Even then you should buy them both anyway. Don't give me any shit about bills or gas. You were going to spend that so called "bill money" on shitty pizza rolls anyway.

Lizzy's First Full Metal Racket - 90%

brocashelm, April 21st, 2006

It’s a heavier approach we find Ireland’s finest (sorry, U2) rock band swathed in on this effort, having since dispatched guitarist Brian Robertson (injured in a bar fight, he’d later gone to rattle cages briefly with Motorhead) in favor of Gary Moore. The man’s speed, weight and general all around breathtaking guitar abilities could never be anything but a boon to any band, and this wasn’t the first time Phil Lynott and company had called on him to pinch hit. He’d stepped into the breach on the Bad Reputation tour, and here he is as a full-blown member of the Lizzy lineup proper.

Material wise, it’s another straight shooting collection of material that continues the band’s ever upward spiraling legacy, although fewer and fewer dollars were forthcoming despite the overflowing art on display. A much thicker guitar tone than previous is immediately evident on “Do Anything You Want To,” a rumbling, bass driven number that’s fun, but a shade formulaic by Lizzy’s usually mould-busting standards. The real heat arrives with “Toughest Street In Town,” a tale of rough stuff in the city, fueled by Lynott’s visceral visions, and Moore’s relentless shredding. “Waiting For An Alibi” is a great twin-guitar motivated number; featuring some of the band’s most impressive six string layering ever. “My Sarah” is a lovely tune Lynott wrote for his young daughter, which is hardly appropriate for snarling rock, so Lizzy appropriately perform this one at half-mast, with melodious solos aplenty.

By this time it must be admitted that the man (Lynott) and the band’s drug addiction was on the brink of seriously addling their collective futures. Thus, the frankness with which said addiction is confronted in “Got To Give It Up” is startling, and would be downright morose, if not for boasting some of the band’s toughest riffs ever. It’s clear that whereas most rock stars saw drug ‘n booze excess as their right, Lynott saw it for what it was; a yoke he was sadly not able to walk away from, right up until his death. The far punchier and terse “Get Out Of Here” is a humorous detour, and a real relief, while “Roisin Dubh (Black Rose)” is metal greatness galore. Lyrically recalling “Emerald” from the band’s own Jailbreak, it’s another journey into Lynott’s learned Gaelic mind, and boasts some staggering incendiary guitar work from both Moore and longtime Lizzy accomplice Scott Gorham.

And so the Lizzy rampage rolls on, bloodied, intoxicated and still in search of a sizable audience. From here, there would be two more albums (Chinatown and Renegade) of varying quality and varying lineups (Moore would split, not being able to handle the heroin, whilst Snowy White and Midge Ure would have brief and odd tenures with the band). But just as the skies were darkest, the heavens crashed and suddenly there was Thunder And Lightning. Go directly to 1983, if you please, for Lizzy’s crushing coda.