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Heroin addiction + Gary Moore leaving = - 59%

TrooperEd, December 14th, 2016
Written based on this version: 1989, CD, Vertigo (Japan)

Dear, oh dear. In and of itself its a massive slide into mediocrity, but having the misfortune to come out in 1980; the year where any metal band that could put out a great album, did put out one; sweet Jesus the crippling effect this album did to Thin Lizzy's momentum.

Mind you this album is not garbage, far from it. It's just....average. Yes, yes average Thin Lizzy is still better than most, but this is most certainly something that you would label "fans only" in the proverbial buyer's guide to Phil and the gang (at least to anything to post 1975). If you're one of those playlist folks like me who are fiending for something from every album to put on your Lizzy list, fear not, as there are some choice tunes here that won't bring the party to a screeching halt. The most notable is the one-two punch of Sugar Blues and Killer on the Loose. The latter kinda recycles the main riff to Are You Ready (why wasn't that made a studio track again? It would have solved a lot of problems), but its one of those Vanilla Ice excuses where you DO notice the distinct difference in riffs. It's just probably not the best idea have those two side by side. Sugar Blues is a fast number, and you can't go wrong with speedy Lizzy numbers. The lyrics suit the speed as well, considering the sugar in question is most certainly not endorsed by the DEA (at least not without paying them a hefty customs fee). It's distinctly a rocker though rather than speed metal (which could be applied oh-so-slightly to Killer On The Loose), with that backbeat rhythm that made songs like Beating Around The Bush and Rocker so feisty but danceable.

The second half of this album is where the mediocrity starts to really slip in. Especially with Having A Good Time which is a rather sad attempt at re-creating the party glory of The Boys Are Back In Town. I'm never, ever one to call Phil Lynott contrived or pretentious, but that couple of minutes where he's calling out every other member to do their thing is when Phil is having maybe a little too much more fun than everybody else. Killing of the Buffalo starts out solid but it falls into a trap of fading out on chorus repetition for a little too long (to be fair, you'll be checking your watch and the track time at the end of Killer On The Loose as well). Hey You seems like it will be one of those laid back Fight Or Fall tracks, and the first verses or so are like that, when all of a sudden, around 2:19, Phil gives you a gentle cattle prodding to the dick and forces you to bang your head and smash furniture. I'm all for dynamics, but at this point in the album it feels like the whole song should have been like that, particularly with side two's lulling.

Proceed with caution, and don't spend too much money either. This is actually the only Lizzy album that I would maybe recommend getting used. Would definitely rank no higher than 10 on a top 10 of 1980 list and that's if it's really lucky.

Recommended tracks:
Sugar Blues

One of about 9 flawless Thin Lizzy albums... - 94%

Misainzig, May 21st, 2009

Thin Lizzy are truly an amazing band. Phil Lynott’s poetic and thoughtful lyrics coupled with his superb songwriting skills simply make for an outstanding musical formula that the band has repeated again and again and again to moderate success. Chinatown is simply another nearly flawless Thin Lizzy album.

The positive We Will Be Strong runs out at you with all guns blazing. This song contains some of the band’s most inspired twin guitar leads, and some of Lynott's finest lyrics. If you’ve ever had an off day and you simply don’t feel good, listen to this song. The twin leads give off a very classy positive vibe sure to shake anyone out of a downer. Phil Lynott has one of the smoothest and most reassuring voices in rock, and that causes confidence to literally radiate out of the speakers and into your heart. The title track drops this attitude, and begins to go for a more mysterious rocking feeling. Brian Downey is probably the most underrated drummer in the history of music. His playing here is refreshing, crisp, and is absolutely what ties everything together behind the scenes.

The title track also features a fairly heavy main riff. The distortion is fairly low, but who gives a shit? This is rock n’ fuckin’ roll! It just happens to be rock n’ fuckin’ roll that is borderline metal. Sweetheart is another fairly uplifting tune that yet again shows off Phil Lynott’s casual and suave finesse with the ladies. This man is a ladies’ man to end all ladies’ men. His bass playing doesn’t make its presence nearly as known, being quite content with bringing up the low end of the songs. But what you can hear is enjoyable and spunky licks. Take the intro to Sugar Blues for instance. The bass intro shows off Phil Lynott’s personality. It has a bit of a bouncy quality. Then the vocals kick in a bit later, and the womanizer goes to work. His bass also shines through on the intro to Hey You. What is it with musical atmosphere making me think I’m in a rainy dark city lately? It does that here.

Speaking of heavy, the very middle of Hey You breaks into this fuckin' funkay little speed metal riff. This band can do heavy, and they can do heavy very well! Genocide is another fairly heavy track. The riffing is very vintage 80s heavy metal. Phil Lynott continues his clever lyrical escapade and sings about people not taking kindly to killing of the buffalo. Killer on the Loose is a fast rocker dealing with Jack The Ripper-esque subject matter, while Having a Good Time is about…well, having a good time! This song completely idealizes what’s great about rock and roll.

“Everybody likes to get a little crazy, in their own particular way. But my buddies and I, we go over the top, and go over again today.”

After the first verse, Lynott shows off his poetic and throws in a bunch of wordplay involving similar sounding words. Pretty entertaining, but somewhat useless. There’s a little bit of corny, “HIT ME WITH THAT DRUM AS HARD AS YOU CAN!” type of shit going on. What adds insult to injury is that when Downey actually hits the drums…uhh…as hard as he can, it stays at the exact same volume level. It just seems a little…well, dated? I don’t know. Then again, it’s rock n’ fuckin’ roll! This shit doesn’t have to be serious. Being laid back is probably one of the best qualities a band could even have. Didn’t I is the obligatory ballad, and it rules. Yeah, I’m saying a ballad rules. What are you going to do about it? You’re going to listen to this ballad and agree with me.

Phil Lynott was such a romantic dude. Any guy would be lucky to be half as romantic as he was.

This album is textbook Lizzy. If you like any of their mid/late 70s output, you’ll like this as well. Thin Lizzy simply had some kickass mojo going for about a decade that forced them to continue throwing out great albums, and this one is no exception. No Thin Lizzy collection would be complete without this, as it is one of their MANY masterpieces.