Thursday, 30 June 2011

“Bad Reputation” by THIN LIZZY. A Review Of The June 2011 CD Reissue Now Newly Remastered & Expanded By 6 Tracks.

"…Chocolate Stains On My Pants…"

After the bad taste the last 3 Lizzy Deluxe Editions seem to leave in many fans mouths (advertised as new remasters, Universal simply used the 1996 versions and didn’t change the booklets or adverts) – I’m glad to say this reissue of Lizzy’s much-loved 8th album “Bad Reputation” is a real improvement on the former 1996 outing - and packs some nice surprises in the bonus department too.

Tracks 1 to 9 are the original LP "Bad Reputation" released 2 September 1977 on Vertigo Records 9102 016 in the UK and on Mercury SRM1-1186 in the USA. It peaked at Number 4 in the UK album charts and at 49 in the US. This June 2011 'Expanded Edition' CD on Universal/Mercury 2772693 adds on 6 bonus tracks and breaks down as follows (57:24 minutes):

Tracks 10 to 15 are "Killer Without A Cause", "Bad Reputation", "That Woman’s Gonna Break Your Heart", "Dancing In Moonlight (It’s Caught Me In Its Spotlight)" and "Downtown Sundown" – all are Previously Unreleased - a BBC Session Recorded 1 August 1977 (no other details provided).

Track 16 is "Me And The Boys (Soundcheck)" – this version is Previously Unreleased - no details are provided as to where or when this live recording was made…

The expanded 16-page booklet has new liner notes (doesn’t say who wrote them) and features the album’s original inner sleeve along with some new live photos of the band in both colour and black and white. It’s nice, but oddly doesn’t reference the bonus tracks at all except to list their titles (I mean 'Soundcheck' – where, when?)

The remaster was carried out by ANDY PEARCE and MATT WORTHAM at Wired Masters in the UK in 2010 – and the sound is much improved. The 1996 version always seemed slightly muffled – muddy almost – but each track here is very clear - especially the rhythm section. I’ve always loved the slightly romantic feel to "Southbound", "Downtown Sundown" and "Dear Lord" – and each sounds great – really clear, punchy without being overly cranked for effect. The irrepressible "Dancing In The Moonlight…" (lyrics above) leaps out of the speakers at you. The only two I found slightly underwhelming are "Soldier Of Fortune" and "Opium Trail" – maybe there’s just too much going on in the tracks – but they sound even more 'dense' that before – and not in a good way - but obviously it’s a matter of personal taste.

Amazingly, the opening two BBC tracks "Killer Without A Cause" and "Bad Reputation" start out sounding like the band live-in-the-studio (exciting and alive), but the next three end up sounding like polished overdubbed versions which are virtually indistinguishable from the album cuts. On the opening two, you really feel the songs coming alive – and the sheer rocking tightness of the group who’d been touring their wrinkled butts off for years – shines through also. There’s a rush of excitement on the first two – the last three are just a little 'too' polished – almost sedate.

And then you’re presented with a truly astonishing diamond in the rough - a genuine Thin Lizzy bonus track gem. "Me And The Boys" first turned up as a crowd-storming track on the "Live And Dangerous" double in 1978 (its also famously featured on the video of the concert), but it disappointingly wasn’t on the DE version of "Live & Dangerous" in 2010. Well – here it is – albeit in a 'Soundcheck' version – and it’s ragged and absolutely amazing. This is what Lizzy fans have craved – their band rocking like an absolute monster – tight even when they were shambolic. As I say - it’s messy - but man is it good!

To sum up – despite the booklet being slightly disjointed – the remaster is great and the bonus tracks – proper fan pleasers.

I remember being at Dalymount Park in Dublin (a football stadium) in the Summer of 1977 when Lizzy were at their peak – Phil pointing the reflection plate of his black bass through the crowd as the light caught it in the approaching evening. He was laying into the cool lyrics of “Dancing In The Moonlight…” and the whole place was boogieing – I remember thinking just how 'magic' they were.

I like it that this CD has brought some of that vibe back to me…after all these years…

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