THIN LIZZY Post for the Uninitiated Who Only Know "The Boys are Back in Town"

Thin Lizzy were not a heavy metal band, so please don't tune out if you hate heavy metal.  They were simply a rock band; a dynamic rock band with a unique singular sound instantly recognizable the way Led Zeppelin or Queen were dynamic and unique and instantly recognizable.  They were virtuosos. They were never some sludgy, sinister, smash-mouth band like Black Sabbath (not that there's anything wrong, of course, with being a sludgy, sinister, smash-mouth band like Black Sabbath!).
Thin Lizzy's fourth studio record, 1974s Nightlife
Infused with Celtic imagery and an underdog's sensibilities, Thin Lizzy composed melodic hard rock tunes filled with warmth and humour, with clever elegant hooks.  Phil Lynott, lead singer and bassist, had a great sense of humour, and it showed in their songs and lyrics.

Thin Lizzy were huge in their homeland Ireland, as well as the UK and most of the countries on the Continent, but they never quite made it huge humongous huge in the States.  And not making it huge humongous huge in the States, in the 1970s, meant the record company's inevitable withdrawal of sponsorship and promotional support.  The band was so close -- they were like this close, right on the cusp -- of breaking big time (humongous huge) in the States in 1976, just a couple months after their Jailbreak record came out and became their first there to crack Billboard's Top 40 album chart on the strength, mostly, of their first (and what would become) only U.S. hit single, "The Boys are Back in Town."  But on the eve of a U.S. tour to support Jailbreak -- their only record, also, to reach gold/platinum status across the pond -- Phil Lynott became gravely ill and the tour had to be scrapped; the tour that would've made them Stars in the States, sadly, never materialized.  Unable to strike while the iron was hot, Thin Lizzy's iron in the U.S.A. never glowed so molten orange again like it did during those brief glorious months in 1976.  Had they toured the U.S. in support of Jailbreak, they may have inspired a similar long lasting popularity here as Rush eventually did when they toured in support of their 1976 breakthrough record, 2112; instead, Thin Lizzy's career trajectory -- speaking commercially, certainly not creatively -- had hit its peak and thereafter began a slow decline not at all dissimilar to their contemporaries, U.F.Os., sales slide -- bands, both, that should've broke huge, stayed huge (humongous huge) for years and years and lasted, but unfortunately didn't.  Though at least their phenomenal musical legacy will remain forever. No doubt I'll still be rocking out to Thin Lizzy when I'm ninety-nine, blowing out the amplifiers in my hearing aids!

Here's an early Peel Sessions recording of an underplayed and under recognized Thin Lizzy classic, "She Knows".   "She Knows" was later refined a bit for their fourth studio record, 1974s Nightlife (pictured above), but I like the energy on this rawer version better.

Phil Lynott statue, Dublin, Ireland. (Would James Joyce have loved Thin Lizzy?)

What are your favorite Thin Lizzy records and songs?


  1. My favourite Thin Lizzy fact is that they initially grew partly from the ashes of Them, the first Irish rock band to break the US market, and arguably the most influential - with hits like Gloria, Here Comes the Night and being the first band to take a Dylan song into the charts with their version of It's All Over now, Baby Blue. And of course their singer stayed popular after he left Them.

    Favourite Lizzy? Live and Dangerous. Track Dancin' in the Moonlight right now, but it changes.

  2. Little Girl in Bloom, Massacre & Don't Believe a Word are my favorites. I'm not a big fan of Lizzy like you both are but Live and Dangerous is fantastic by any measure.

  3. Great story, Seamus! I didn't know about the Them connection. I didn't know, either, until an online friend shared yesterday, that Midge Ure was in the band for a couple years. Amazing how many great musicians came through Lizzy and went on to greatness outside the band, Gary Moore & John Sykes in particular. I know what you mean about your favorites changing over time. So curious that being it was Midge Ure & Bob Geldof who organized Live Aid in '85, why the hell didn't they at least ask Phil Lynott and the rest of the band if they'd consider regrouping for the event? Lynott, from what I've read, took the snub pretty hard. Sad.

    Enjoy all those songs too, slick. My favorite Lizzy song right now is probably "Borderline," off the Johnny the Fox record.

  4. Yes, Midge Ure was one of those strangely ubiquitous people - he also, apparently, was almost in The Sex Pistiols...
    I think the fact that Geldof and Ure knew Phil so well was one reason they didn't ask him to play Live Aid. They knew how bad his addiction and health problems were. Pity though. In retrospect who knows what might have given him the spur to kick his habit. Geldof actually took his place in a reunion concert after his death.


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