In ancient times when music was considered a tangible possession, music lovers placed their prized vinyl albums in wooden or plastic milk crates. Guests could enter your living room, look through your albums, and find out who you are, and what you’re about. With this idea in mind, I present to you a series of articles about guitar records from the past titled: Albums From The Milk Crate.
Producer: Phil Lynott
First of all, we need to clear up a few things so you and I can be straight. Thin Lizzy’s Life: Live album released in 1983, is better than Thin Lizzy’s Live and Dangerous album released in 1978. Sit quietly, don’t speak, and you shall learn. I will teach you.
Here’s why: The Life: Live album begins quite literally by exploding out of your speakers and knocking you on your tubby ass with the classic “Thunder & Lightning”. What you’re hearing is the blistering genius of John Sykes and Scott Gorham down front, blazing on the guitar. Attitude, vibe, pick scrapes, swagger, artificial harmonics, and balls are all unleashed – and we’re still listening to the very first few minutes of the first song.
This is in sharp contrast to the laid back version of “Jailbreak” that opens Live and Dangerous. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good record with it’s head bopping R&B style tunes such as “Dancing In The Moonlight”, “Southbound”, and “Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed”. Lynott used those songs as stepping-stones to help him discover what he would ultimately become – the Rocker. It was a gateway to eventually get to the good stuff – the heavy stuff. Life: Live is a snapshot of that final evolution.
Life: Live is a double live album that was recorded during Thin Lizzy’s farewell tour in 1983. The majority of it was recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon in London except for the songs “Renegade”, “Killer On The Loose”, and “Hollywood”, which were recorded a few years earlier with Snowy White on guitar. Bassist and vocalist supreme Phil Lynott decided it was time to call it quits, and felt that a big farewell tour was the way to go.
To make this final tour extra special, Lynott called upon former Thin Lizzy members Eric Bell, Brian Robertson, and Gary Moore to join him for an all-star jam at the end of the show. Guitarists Sykes, Gorham, Robertson, Bell and Moore all share the stage for a monstrous version of “The Rocker”. This track alone should silence all the Live and Dangerous fan boys. It’s truly sublime. Gary Moore also plays on “Black Rose”, and Brian Robertson plays on “Emerald”.
The rhythm section features Brian Downey on drums, Darren Wharton on keys, and of course Lynott on bass. The production is warm yet clear and mixed very well considering all the people on stage. It’s a rougher and tougher sounding record than Live and Dangerous. Critics have tried to diminish its importance because of post-production fixes, but Live and Dangerous has just as many if not more fixes. It’s irrelevant to criticize Life: Live because it’s not a 100% live recording. The final product is stellar with great production and superior musicianship by everyone, most notably Gorham and Sykes.
The track list should be written in stone and considered to be the “Holy Grail” of Thin Lizzy tribute band set lists. There’s no need to change a thing. All the best stuff is right here in perfect order:
Thunder & Lightning
Waiting for an Alibi
Baby Please Don’t Go
Got To Give It Up
Angel of Death
Are You Ready
Boys Are Back In Town
Don’t Believe A Word
Killer On The Loose
Sun Goes Down
Still In Love With You
It’s an amazing record with great guitar tones and passion throughout. Lynott sounds a little raw vocally, but despite that performs with visceral power and charisma. It’s a ballsy rock record with the best songs, expert use of dynamics, audience interaction, and epic guitarmanship from Gorham and Sykes. Lynott was a sensitive soul with a monkey on his back, but you can hear him dig deep on the best version of “Don’t Believe A Word” in the entire world – which just happens to be on this record. This is the Thin Lizzy I want to remember.