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Pandora’s Box For Drifters - 75%

OzzyApu, December 27th, 2010

The singles preceding this set the foundation for this album, and in turn this album set the foundation for future albums and for Phil Lynott to shine musically, lyrically, and as a frontman. The variety on here dunks the variety from the last album, and each member shows progression in skill with their instruments. It really feels like different members playing this time, and the slightly lopsided mixing of the last full-length meets the cleansed warmth of Vagabonds…. It didn’t solve the band’s identity crisis, but still made it out on top.

Off the bat Bell hits us with a harmonic lead tune, bending the strings and warping the melody alongside Lynott’s low, grainy singing. The track isn’t hard hitting, but it can be heavy when compared to past full-lengths; Downey hits the kit louder than before, and nothing on it is hollow or frail, either. The following track, “The Hero And The Madman,” is one out of left field: Bell continually warping the melody, the atmosphere becoming arid, Lynott singing a story / doing some really dramatic spoken word, and Downey hammering away like a true jazz club drummer. Oh yeah, this album has blues, jazz, and funk, with hard rock primarily in “The Rocker” – the tune that broke Eric Bell out of his shell completely. Bell literally plays as if he was future Lizzy guitarists Gorham or Moore; just pure aggressiveness and showmanship in speed and character.

Otherwise, the album is still a warm, soft-hearted affair that doesn’t intend to hurt anyone or anything. Unlike Shades Of A Blue Orphanage however, Vagabonds… plants itself in the guitar and in Lynott’s enhanced influence on the mic. Lynott is a man that challenges himself with a strong lead, and Bell accomplishes that in numbers with frilling riffs like on the aforementioned “The Rocker” or bass-heavy monsters like “Gonna Creep Up On You”. That’s where the creativity comes from for Lynott, and it’s with these songs that we see all three members show their capabilities in skill and cohesiveness. Since this formula is more apparent on this album, consistency is improved and the memorability factor goes up, as well as the enjoyment all around.

Fans that want balmy, slick hard rock would do well giving this one a try. It’s a great album to hear for those wanting a lighter Lizzy or one that has less straightforwardness. Vagabonds… is a jam album by a bunch of guys during an era of discovery, and for the original pressing this clocks in at around forty minutes. Other pressings include plenty of material from the singles surrounding this release, and I’d recommend getting whatever version includes those since they’re very good: “Whisky In The Jar”, “Randolph’s Tango”, “Broken Dreams” and whatever else I’m missing - they’re all worthy of your time.