Sunday, 18 March 2012

"Fighting: Deluxe Edition by THIN LIZZY (2012 Universal/Mercury 2CD Set Of Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"…Wild One…You've Been Away Too Long…"

Thin Lizzy fans have had something of a rollercoaster ride with the huge slew of DELUXE EDITIONS thrown at them in the last few years - some stunning - some maddeningly off the mark (remasters that aren't etc). But as a huge fan of these twin-guitar beginnings "Nightlife" (1974) and "Fighting" (1975) - I'm thrilled to say that these 2CD sets may indeed be the best in the series so far. Here are the details...

UK released Monday 12 March 2012 on Mercury 2792227 - the DELUXE EDITION of "Fighting" breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (38:08 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 10 are the album "Fighting" released 12 September 1975 in the UK on Vertigo 6360 121 and on Mercury SRM-1 1108 in the USA
[Note: the UK 'alley with weapons' artwork is used for this release and not the different US and European artwork - the 'standing outside a derelict house' cover used on US and Euro covers is featured as the lead page of the booklet]

Disc 2 - Bonus Tracks (61:40 minutes):
Track 1 is "Half Caste" - the non-album B-side to "Rosalie" - issued June 1975 in the UK as a 7" single on Vertigo 6059 124
Track 2 is "Rosalie (US Album Mix)"
Tracks 3 to 5 are "Rosalie", "Suicide" and "Ballad Of A Hard Man" - three live 'BBC Sessions' recorded 29 May 1975
Track 6 is "Ballad Of A Hard Man (False Start and No Vocal)" - an alternate version
Track 7 is "Try A Little Harder (Alternate Vocal)" - an instrumental album outtake written by Phil Lynott
Track 8 is "Fighting My Way Back (Rough Mix With Alternate Vocals)" - an alternate version
Track 9 is "Song For Jesse (No Vocal)" - an instrumental album outtake written by Phil Lynott
Track 10 is "Leaving Town (Acoustic, Bass & Drums - No Vocal)" - an instrumental album outtake written by Phil Lynott
Track 11 is "Blues Boy" - an album outtake written by Brian Robertson
Track 12 is "Leaving Town (Extended Take)" - longer version of Track 10
Track 13 is "Spirit Slips Away (Extended Version - Take Four)" - an alternate version
Track 14 is "Wild One (No Vocal)" - an alternate version
Track 15 is "Bryan's Funky Fazer (Silver Dollar)" - an alternate version written by Brian Robertson

There's no wrap-around plastic on these new Deluxe Editions (miss them actually), but it is nicely done. The 16-page booklet has liner notes by MALCOME DOME which features interviews with guitarist Brian Robertson and drummer and founder member Brian Downey. The collage photos that pepper the text are a mixture of ticket stubs, concert posters, 7" single picture sleeves for the two releases off the album - "Rosalie" and "Wild One" - and well as a 'bloodied noses' photo of the band as rejected artwork. But the real fireworks come in the 2011 remaster by ANDY PEARCE and MATT WORTHAM - which is absolutely superb.

The power of the album opener "Rosalie" as it exits your speakers is tremendous. One of only a handful of covers Lizzy ever did - it was originally on Bob Seger's 1973 album for Capitol Records called "Back in '72" (he even issued it as a 7" single in the UK and USA). Lizzy had been touring the States with Bachman-Turner Overdrive and Seger on the same bill - only to witness how the song came alive in a live environment. They took his slower studio cut and speeded it up - and to many people - it practically 'is' a Lizzy song now. I'm sure Bob approves - because to this day - "Rosalie" (with its anti-racist non-album B-side "Half Caste") is one 'the' great 45s of the Seventies (it also features Roger Chapman of Family on guest vocals - just before the solo comes in).

The power of "For Those Who Love To Live" is fabulous too as is the wonderfully melodic "Wild One" (lyrics above). In fact as you listen again to the album - its amazing how accomplished Lynott's writing had become (he penned/co-wrote 7 of the 10 songs) and how the band's new twin-guitar sound had 'gelled'. 1976's "Jailbreak" and its breakthrough was just a year away - but they found their true path on "Fighting" and with their cracking new material were already an awesome thing 'live'. I particularly love the slinky feel of Robertson's excellent "Silver Dollar" which just sounds huge all of a sudden (it features the second guest on the album - Ian McLagan of The Faces on keyboards). "King's Vengeance" has such muscle now too - and the rocking brilliance of "Suicide", "King's Vengeance" and the powerhouse album finisher "Ballad Of A Hard Man" have never sounded so good.

As you can imagine the bonus tracks on Disc 2 are a mixture of the ordinary and the brill. I find the 3 BBC Sessions strangely lacklustre considering the material - but the rough in-the-studio alternate versions of "Ballad Of A Hard Man" and "Fighting My Way Back" are raw and powerful - they show a band that was so brilliantly tight - even in rehearsals. One of the real gems here is once again by Lynott - the lovely "Try A Little Harder" is in the same vein as the sleeker part of "Spirit Slips Away" and has a great guitar solo in it. "Song For Jesse" sounds suspiciously like an instrumental that was recently done - there's no recording date and no indication as to who does the superb piano work on it. "Leaving Town" is the real deal and is featured here twice. First is an Acoustic, Bass and Drum version - second is an extended version of that. But as pretty as it is in places - without vocals and emotion it's merely a curiosity (what a shame he never finished it). The brill and sneaky rock-blues of "Blues Boy" is different though - a truly great Brian Robertson penned outtake with Lynott giving it some mean vocals and the guitar work from both of the boys just fantastic. Lizzy fans will love this. It's a genuine highlight...

Niggles - the booklet is good - but there is this unnerving lack of acknowledgement of the main man - PHIL LYNOTT. Both Downey and Robertson's quotes are selective to say the least. It's all "we" and "our" - without ever noting that Lynott wrote the bulk of the tracks for God's sake, sang them, fronted the band, provided the hits etc etc. It's like the remaining members are slyly trying to rewrite the band's history in their favour. And the total lack of liner notes for the 15 tracks on Disc 2 is just lazy - or again - trying to hide something. But overall - it's a good release - and one fans have been waiting for - for decades.

To sum up - the remaster is a belter, some of the extras are absolute must owns and the packaging is what you'd expect. It's truly terrible front cover notwithstanding - "Fighting" is a properly great Thin Lizzy album - and this DE version finally does it justice.

Two of my friends are buried in the same cemetery as Phil in Dublin - and I visit all 3 whenever I go back. God bless them wherever they may be. And all are sorely missed...

PS: see also reviews for "Thin Lizzy", "Shades Of A Blue Orphanage" and 2CD Deluxe Editions of "Vagabonds Of The Western World", "Jailbreak", "Johnny The Fox" and "Live And Dangerous".


Andrew Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew Smith said...

Unfortunately they messed up on Disc 2. Track 2 is listed as "Rosalie (US Album Mix)", when in fact it's the same mix as the version on Disc 1, except it's been mastered slightly quieter. The US Mix of Rosalie is about 20 seconds longer. If you find a copy of the US Mix of Rosalie, you'll see what I mean straight away. This was picked up by a reviewer on Amazon UK. I really hope Universal fix this and issue corrected versions, but I'm not holding out too much hope.

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

INDEX - Artists, Albums, Record Labels, CD Remaster Engineers, Liner Notes Authors, Links etc