1675604404 Thin Lizzys Live and Dangerous One of the best live

Thin Lizzy’s “Live and Dangerous”: One of the best live albums in rock, even if it’s a hoax

Tony Visconti’s heart sank when he started listening to the tapes. He had agreed to produce a live recording of his beloved Thin Lizzys, despite an impatient David Bowie urging him to take care of his. Visconti figured this would be a short while and he would be under Bowie’s command in a few days. Until he listened to the Thin Lizzy concert tapes that the group gave him. The tapes were of different speeds and some had Dolby, some didn’t. A disaster. Eventually he managed to pick a couple of songs. Then Phil Lynott, the leader of Thin Lizzy, came by and said he wasn’t convinced. It was when a trap was hatched to bring about Live and Dangerous (1978), considered by publications such as Classic Rock as the best live album of all time, a work now available in a luxurious eight-CD box set with much is reprinted from additional material. .

Perhaps it would be appropriate to begin this story by emphasizing that there was a time when live recording was an essential product in a musician’s career. The youngest may not have seen one in their lives, but there’s no pop and rock star who hasn’t edited theirs, from The Who to Beyoncé. The Rolling Stones, for example, count up to twenty officers. Albums recorded at concerts are a genre unto themselves that had a fundamental mission: it was a way of packaging the biggest hits, sometimes to save careers (Alive!, by Kiss), sometimes to restart them (Joaquín Sabina and Viceversa En Directo). …and on many occasions to close them or act as a hinge to distinguish stages.

Brian Robertson, Phil Lynott and Scott Gorham at a Thin Lizzy concert in London in 1978. Brian Robertson, Phil Lynott and Scott Gorham at a Thin Lizzy concert in London in 1978. Fin Costello (Redferns)

Thin Lizzy already had three good studio jobs by the time the live show was considered: they long got their teeth on the back of Peter Frampton’s success with Frampton Comes Alive! (1976). They thought they could too. The soul of the Lizzys was Phil Lynott, singer, bassist and songwriter, born in England to an Irish mother and a British Guiana-born father. His father left them when he was a few months old and a seven-year-old Lynott went to live with his grandmother in Dublin. With mulatto skin and Afro hair, he was a child stunned by a constant sense of absence. Writer and journalist Tito Lesende, author of The 100 Best Live Rock Records, describes it this way: “He read Albert Camus, he fought regularly, he listened to Frank Sinatra and he prayed with his family at church.”

Their songs spoke of gangsters, Irish heroes and tough guys hurt by heartbreak. Someone who acted like a badass to hide a deep vulnerability. In his biography of the singer, Cowboy Song, Graeme Thomson notes, “Lynott embodied the quintessential rock ‘n’ roll bandleader. He controlled, manipulated, and electrified crowds to such an extent that his character became permanently associated with the cover image of Live and Dangerous, a Dionysian portrait in leather pants, clenched fist, spiked bracelet, and pirate earring.

Thin Lizzy poses in New York in 1977.  Left to right: Brian Robertson (guitar), Phil Lynott (vocals and bass), Scott Gorham (guitar) and Brian Downey (drums).  Thin Lizzy poses in New York in 1977. Left to right: Brian Robertson (guitar), Phil Lynott (vocals and bass), Scott Gorham (guitar) and Brian Downey (drums). Richard E Aaron (Redferns)

For the compilation of Live and Dangerous (“undoubtedly at the top of the best live rock albums,” surmises readers), Visconti received concert tapes from London in 1976 (at the legendary Hammersmith Odeon venue) and Philadelphia in 1977, after a job that the What the producer called “nightmarish” due to the poor quality of the recording, Phil Lynott arrived. “We corrected a few bass notes in the studio and then Phil said, ‘That’s great, how about I play all the bass on the record again?'” says Visconti in his memoir Bowie, Bolan and the Brooklyn Boy . Then he wanted the same for the voice and for some guitars. Over the years, the producer has established the following range: Between 50% and 75% of Live and Dangerous has been re-recorded. The album’s guitarists, virtuosos Brian Robertson and Scott Gorham, say Visconti exaggerates, but they don’t deny the extensive tinkering. A cut and paste that in turn has been performed in many live shows, the case of Thin Lizzy standing out for the high percentage of make-up and for such a legendary album.

English journalist and writer Michael Hann, a contributor to The Guardian or Rolling Stone and author of the book on the history of British heavy metal Denim and Leather, wrote: “To some, Live and Dangerous is discredited by the suspicion that much of it became an album re-recorded in the studio. But does it really matter? It sounds like a rousing rock show and booms out of the speakers in such a way that you feel like you’re sitting in the seats of the Hammersmith Odeon.” sure to hear. The rest can no longer be insured. It may have been redone with studio grafts. It’s clear it’s rigged, but what difference does it make? Others would have been a meme album, but it’s so well produced that it reflects a Thin Lizzy concert better than the original recordings.

U2 leader Bono arrives for the funeral of Phil Lynott in Dublin January 11, 1986.  At right U2's 'manager' Paul McGuinness. U2 leader Bono arrives for the funeral of Phil Lynott in Dublin January 11, 1986. At right U2’s ‘manager’ Paul McGuinness. Independent News & Media (Getty Images)

The key to this live sound was that Visconti set up the stage technology in the studio. He even fitted Lynott’s bass with a radio transmitter so it could move around the studio like it was in concert. Additionally, the singer told the producer he wanted to feel the decibels rumbling under his feet, like they were in a performance. Then the screams of the audience recorded at the concerts were amplified. In this way, they managed to imitate the overwhelming sound of the live show. Mariano Muniesa, rock historian, emphasizes: “Its main strength is that it is an album that shows Thin Lizzy with the truthfulness and energy that they exuded live. An essentially candid album that managed to capture the essence of the legendary Irish band’s live performance in its microgrooves”.

The collection of songs is outstanding: The Rude Jailbreak or Massacre; the ballad Still In Love With You; the wonderful cowboy song; the classic The Boys Are Back In Town; or the irresistibly trotting rock Don’t Believe A Word. Robertson and Gorham’s guitars are braided solos, a style that influenced Iron Maiden so much; Lynott’s passionate and deep voice comes across more like a narrator than a singer, and his bass blends into funk fields and gives the songs a special rhythm. Some characteristics that set the Irish apart from other bands of their generation.

The mythical cover of Thin Lizzy's The mythical cover of Thin Lizzy’s “Live and Dangerous”.

Another question in this story is why Thin Lizzy hasn’t transcended more. Musiesa gives a hint: “They dive halfway between the big hard rock monsters of the early 70’s – Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin – and between the new wave of British heavy metal of the late 70’s – Iron Maiden, Saxon… — Das that is, they reached their maximum popularity at a time, in the mid-1970s, when the genre was going through a period of transition and when it was not experiencing its greatest moments of popularity.

In the same year (1978) as Live and Dangerous was released, friction between Lynott and guitarist Brian Robertson caused the latter’s departure. In 1983 the group disbanded. Three years later, on December 25, 1985, Lynott was hospitalized after suffering from heroin and alcohol intoxication. He died on January 4, 1986. He was 36 years old.

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