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They Weren’t There Yet - 49%

OzzyApu, December 27th, 2010

I thought I’d be able to venture anywhere in Thin Lizzy’s discography and enjoy an album to a standard created by Lizzy themselves. This expectation is surely met with full-lengths in the popular era and even with the tail end of Eric Bell’s era on Vagabonds Of The Western World. Checking this one out, I can see why it isn’t exactly a popular one (not that I always adhere to popular opinion), even for core Lizzy fans. At this point it was still Eric Bell’s band, with Lynott only beginning to show his influences and Downey strutting what was on paper rather than what he felt (he does get his own drum solo on the first track, though).

Of course it’s normal for bands starting out to find a sound they’re comfortable with. Looking at bands like Neurosis or Katatonia (I know, nowhere near traditional heavy metal or hard rock), it takes a few releases to make something of a band’s sound. Well this one I was expecting hard rock since Lizzy only got harder as the years went by, but in fact this is lighter than hard rock. The heaviest tracks are the utterly funky “The Rise And Dear Demise...” and the two short punches of “Baby Face” and “Call The Police”. From most perspectives, these tracks are consistent in mid-paced rhythm with bluesy showmanship by Bell. Downey never strikes the kit with a ton of power, since Shades Of A Blue Orphanage is very laid-back, Americana in atmosphere, and warmhearted in attitude. This isn’t an aggressive album, and Lizzy is sticking within the small boundary of what they know how to play.

Lynott weaves between his thick, trademark yelling (“Chatting Today”) and soft-spoken croons (“Sarah (Version 1)”); both sides are rich in texture and true to his character. When I first heard this album, it sounded like his vocals were improperly recorded or mixed, as they sounded much louder and in front of the other instruments. This is most apparent on the overly long title track, but for the other songs it isn’t so bad. I assumed it was an issue with recordings from that era, but I have a couple Doors albums and of course Black Sabbath and Deep Purple had no problem, so that idea went crashing and burning. For an Irishman, Lynott’s singing doesn’t come across as that accented at all to me; that organic graininess this early in the game throws it off, I guess. On the throwaway track “I Don’t Want To Forget…”, Lynott’s doing a really crummy Elvis impression over some lame ‘50s rock & roll ultra-light rhythm.

So while a decent offering, this kind of music isn’t that appealing to me. It’s nice, but for me it’s too nice, and for non-hard rock kind of rock music, I can’t even measure it within its own genre because I don’t listen to anything else this light. The production’s warm and clear (Lynott’s bass lines are fat and bubbly), and that’s the kind of vibe it rubs on you – slow, humble, and carefree, especially for the time period it came from.