Sunday, 24 October 2010

“Thin Lizzy” by THIN LIZZY - 1971 UK Debut LP (2010 Decca 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster with 9 Bonus Tracks) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"…Look What The Wind Just Blew In…"

This new 18 October 2010 CD on Decca 984 447-7 (Barcode 602498444771) remasters Thin Lizzy's debut album for Decca/London Records in 1971 and adds on a further 9 bonus tracks (it was initially slated for a 25 February 2008 release, but cancelled). 

Here's a detailed breakdown for the Expanded CD Remaster of "Thin Lizzy" by THIN LIZZY (71:40 minutes):

1. The Friendly Ranger At Clontarf Castle
2. Honesty Is No Excuse
3. Diddy Levine 
4. Ray-Gun
5. Look What The Wind Blew In
6. Eire [Side 2]
7. Return Of The Farmer’s Son
8. Clifton Grange Hotel 
9. Saga Of The Ageing Orphan 
10. Remembering
Tracks 1 to 10 are the debut album “Thin Lizzy” issued on 30 April 1971 in the UK on Decca SKL 5082 (London PS 594 in the USA). 

The album was well received - especially by Britain’s influential RADIO 1 DJ David "Kid" Jensen, who championed the band and their platter as much as he could. In 1973 Kid Jensen put substance to his love of the band by turning up as the vocalist in the story song “The Hero & The Madman” on “Vagabonds Of The Western World”. The style of Lizzy’s debut was a mixture of Rock, Folk and even some Jazzy and Progressive elements. It highlighted Lynnot’s great voice and lyrics and Eric Bell’s superbly diverse guitar playing. The catchy riff of “Look What The Wind Blew In” (lyrics above) would have made a good lead off single, but no 7” ever came off the album. Standing alone it makes for a warm listen, but it’s the bonuses on this issue that make it an all together most tasty beast.

Track 11 is “The Farmer”, the A-side of Lizzy’s legendary debut single on Parlophone Records DIP 513. Issued in IRELAND-ONLY, it was mistakenly credited to THIN LIZZIE and released on the last day of July 1970. Its first CD appearance came on the superb “Vagabonds Kings Warriors Angels” 4CD Box Set from 2001. As the band was an unknown, its release in that summer of 1970 went completely unnoticed and legend has it that it shifted less than 100 copies. A genuine rarity, the definitive authority that is the Record Collector Rare Record Price Guide of 2012 lists it at £1000, but try finding one! Its inclusion here in upgraded sound quality is a genuine bonus to fans (it wasn’t on the original 1991 re-issue CD). As to the song itself, it’s not a great track by any stretch of the imagination - it’s also the only song in their cannon to feature the original keyboardist Eric Wrixon. Unfortunately, its equally rare and unheard B-side, “I Need You”, ISN’T represented on this new reissue (no explanation) - a very real shame that.

12. Dublin
13. Remembering Part II (New Day)
14. Old Moon Madness
15. Things Ain’t Working Out Down at The Farm
Tracks 12 to 15 make up what’s known as the “NEW DAY” EP. Recorded across 3 days in July 1971, the non-album 4-track Extended Play was released in Britain after the album on 20 August 1971 as Decca F 13208. Most copies came in a Decca Label Bag, but rare ones carried a beautiful gatefold picture sleeve (very rare and again very expensive – £300+ - I’ve only ever seen one in my life). It was also a MAXI PLAY EP, in other words it spun at LP speed of 33 1/3.  Its four tracks were laid out as follows: 
Side A: 1. Dublin 2. Remembering Part II (New Day) 
Side B: 1. Old Moon Madness 2. Things Ain’t Working Out Down at The Farm
Their first outing on compact disc came on the 1991 reissue of the album as its only bonus tracks, and in the relatively early days of CD issues, the sound quality was good, but not great. In 2000 two of the tracks turned up on the “Classic – The Universal Masters Collection” set in hugely improved sound quality. This October 2010 issue is the first time ALL FOUR TRACKS are presented in the one place in truly exceptional remastered sound quality.  Eric Bell’s guitar work on “Remembering Part II (New Day”) is just great and makes this extended release makes for a much more rocking listening experience. 

16. Look What The Wind Blew In
17. Honesty is No Excuse 
18. Dublin 
19. Things Ain’t Working out Down At The Farm 
Tracks 16 to 19 are 'December 1977' remixes and re-workings – they first turned up on the 1979 UK Decca compilation album “The Continuing Saga Of The Ageing Orphans” and have never been on CD before. They contain guitar and keyboard ‘extra’ contributions from Midge Ure (of Ultravox) and Gary Moore. However, in order to sequence that 1979 compilation from CD you’ll need 3 CD remasters - “Thin Lizzy”, “Shade Of A Blue Orphanage” and the DE edition of “Vagabonds Of The Western World” (see my review). 

The newly upgraded 16-page booklet is peppered with black and whites photos of the boys looking confident and chipper and a very cool and rare poster naming them as the support act to the FACES on the 8th of October 1971 in the Royal Ballroom at Boscombe in Bournemouth. The knowledgeable and detailed liner notes by MARK POWELL go into the band’s history as Orphanage, Phil’s stint with Ireland’s Skid Row, their debut single on Parlophone in Ireland and their eventual signing to Decca in the UK. It’s very well written and its all been run by Philomena - Phil's mum.

As with "Shades Of A Blue Orphanage" and the 2CD Deluxe Edition of "Vagabonds Of The Western World", PASCHAL BYRNE has remastered this 2010 CD with hugely improved results. I've raved about his work before (see my reviews for "Ain't No Saint" the 4CD John Martyn box set and "Blues From Laurel Canyon" by John Mayall), and this set is no different. The first generation tapes have been used - not too brash - fantastic presence - each track a revelation. 

Taking their name from a character in the 'Beano' comic book called "Tin Lizzie", the band were still a three-piece at this point - PHILIP LYNOTT on Vocals and Bass, ERIC BELL on Guitars and Keyboards with BRIAN DOWNEY on Drums. The famous dual guitar blasts of Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson are years away, so those expecting "Fighting" or "Jailbreak" should really look further ahead. 

SCOTT ENGLISH produced the stage-rehearsed 10 songs in 5 days in January 1971 – and the result was a great debut rather than just a starting point. Rockers like “Look What The Wind Blew In” and the Hendrix-influenced “Ray-Gun” sat comfortably alongside more folky offerings like “Honesty Is No Excuse” and the early Horslips folk-rock vibe of “The Friendly Ranger Of Clontarf Castle” (I come from Clontarf in Dublin). The bass and plucked guitar of “Clifton Grange Hotel” is fantastically clear and the hiss that seemed to inflict previous versions of “Saga Of The Ageing Orphan” is largely gone.  The “New Day” EP sounds far better too over the 1991 CD issue. And I love the rocking guitar work put in by Midge Ure on the 1977 modernised remix of “Things Ain’t Working Out Down At The Farm”.  Very nice indeed…

To sum up – lovers of lesser-known Seventies rock sound invest in this - the remaster is fabulous, the bonus tracks genuinely good and I picked it up for less than a fiver. 

Recommended like the refreshing breeze on Dublin’s Dollymount Beach. 

PS: see also my reviews for the 2010 versions of "Shades Of A Blue Orphanage", the long-delayed 2CD Deluxe Edition of "Vagabonds Of The Western World" as well the Deluxe Editions of "Night Life", "Fighting", "Jailbreak", "Johnny The Fox", "Live And Dangerous" and the single disc reissue of "Bad Reputation" as well the compilation for the Eric Bell years "Classic Thin Lizzy: The Universal Masters Collection"…

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