ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 19, 2002
By Steve Newton
Thin Lizzy was among my top-five fave rock bands in the ’70s. I picked up on the group after reading a rave review of 1973’s Vagabonds of the Western World in my magazine of choice at the time, Circus. I rushed out and bought it, and wound up playing serious air guitar to Eric Bell’s wicked freakout solo on “The Rocker”. There was a lot to like about Vagabonds, from the fantastical story-song of “The Hero and the Madman” to the soulful funkiness of “Slow Blues” to the loping vibe of the pretty teen-pregnancy ode “Little Girl in Bloom”. And you could take it all in while poring over Jim Fitzpatrick’s cosmic sci-fi cover art. The band immediately won me over, and this was even before bassist-vocalist and main songwriter Phil Lynott enlisted the dangerous guitar duo of Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson, who developed the band’s trademark, soaring twin-lead style.
Most people only know Thin Lizzy from its brazen 1976 hit, “The Boys Are Back in Town”, but between ’73 and ’83 the group released 10 studio albums, several of which were loaded with intense, sharply played guitar-rock tunes that often told of mythical conflicts and intriguingly seedy characters. A lot of them are collected on Vagabonds Kings Warriors Angels, a four-disc U.K. import that’s the first-ever Lizzy boxed set. As well as half a dozen rare and/or previously unreleased songs, the set features a 50-page booklet sporting track-by-track notes, never-before-seen photos, and an insightful essay by Rolling Stone’s Ben Edmonds. It’s a fitting tribute to Lynott, the poet with the hard-rock heart, who passed away in January of ’86—from the effects of prolonged drug and alcohol abuse—at the age of 34.