Sunday, 26 March 2017

"Classic Thin Lizzy - Universal Masters Collection" by THIN LIZZY (1999/2009 Decca/Deram CD Compilation of Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

(Original 1999 Cover)

(2009 Reissue Artwork)

This review and hundreds more like it can also be found in my 
SOUNDS GOOD Music Book: 1960s and 1970s MUSIC Volume 2 
- Exceptional CD Remasters 
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"…Remembering Part One…"

The budget-to-mid price Series "Universal Masters Collection" spans a huge range of artists on the Universal roster of Labels - from ABC through to DONNA SUMMER - and all points in between. But this little gem given over to THIN LIZZY and the Irish band’s early Decca Label material seems to have gone largely unnoticed.

The booklet is a 4-page foldout inlay with a decent essay on the band at that time by DARYL EASLEA and a basic track listing.

But the really good news is that all 18 of its tracks have been Digitally Remastered and many of them are hard-to-find rarities. The compilation covers the period 1971 to 1974, their first 3 albums and the non-album 7" singles around them. As you can see from the photo they've used for the front cover of the booklet, the rocking Dublin band was still a POWER TRIO at that time - PHIL LYNOTT on Bass and Vocals (principal songwriter), ERIC BELL on Guitar and Vocals with BRIAN DOWNEY on Drums and Percussion (the famous dual-guitars of BRIAN ROBERTSON and SCOTT GORHAM began with "Nightlife" in 1974).

The albums featured here are "Thin Lizzy", their debut from April 1971, "Shades Of A Blue Orphanage", their second album from March 1972 (un-issued in the US) and their fantastic third album from September 1973, "Vagabonds Of The Western World" (on the Decca label in the UK and the London label in the USA). As the first three albums were put out onto CD in 1990, 1993 and 1993 respectively with 'ok' sound quality - these 1999 sonic upgrades are both long overdue and superb-sounding into the bargain.

Originally UK released December 1999 (reissued 2005 and 2009) - "Classic Thin Lizzy: The Universal Masters Collection" by THIN LIZZY is an 18-track CD compilation on Universal/Deram/Decca 844 945-2 (Barcode 042284494526). Here’s the track-by-track breakdown (most of this info isn’t on the outer sleeve):

1. Whisky In The Jar
Their 1st UK 7" single from November 1972 and originally a non-album track – the song is an updated cover version of a 1729 Traditional Irish air. The cut supplied here is the rare 'Promotional Edited Version' used on UK Demos and the US issue of the single that cut down the standard 7" release from its full running time of 5:44 minutes to a shorter 3:40 minutes

2. The Rocker
Their 3rd UK 7" single, this is the rare ‘Edited Single Version'. It chops down the full "Vagabonds Of The Western World" album cut of 5:12 minutes to 2:41 minutes - essentially editing out Eric Bell's guitar solo

3. Look What The Wind Blew In (on "Thin Lizzy" - their 1st album)

4. Randolph's Tango
Their 2nd UK 7" single from May 1973 and again a non-album track. This is credited as the ‘US Edited Single Version’ - but as the original UK version runs to 3:53 minutes and this cut is 3:49 minutes - in a crazy world of 45 playing times - 4-seconds is seen as an 'edit'…

5. Sarah (Version 1) (on "Shades Of A Blue Orphanage" - their 2nd album)

6. Things Ain't Workin' Out Down At The Farm (Version 1)
The 4th of 4 tracks on the ultra-rare "New Day" EP - a UK-only 7" single-only release from 21 August 1971. The 1st track on the EP "Dublin" is also on this compilation - Track 12. For CD versions of the other two songs on the EP, "Remembering Part II (New Day)" and "Old Moon Madness” - they can be found as bonus tracks on both the 1990 and 2010 CD reissues of "Thin Lizzy”

7. Vagabond Of The Western World
Edited 7” Single Version - it cuts down the "Vagabonds..." album track of 4:49 minutes to a running time of 4:06 minutes

8. Here I Go Again (non-album B-side to the November 1973 UK 7” single of "The Rocker" on Decca F 13467)

9. Buffalo Gal (on "Shades Of A Blue Orphanage” - their 2nd album)

10. Honesty Is No Excuse (on "Thin Lizzy” - their 1st LP)

11. Black Boys On The Corner
Released in the UK in November 1972 as Decca F 13356 - it's the non-album B-side to both the UK and USA 7" single "Whisky In The Jar" (spelt without an 'e' in the UK and EUROPE but with an 'e' in the USA.

12. Dublin (1st of 4 tracks on the ultra-rare "New Day" EP, a UK-only 7" single-only release from 21 August 1971)

13. Little Darling (a UK 7" single-only release from April 1974 on Decca F 13507 featuring GARY MOORE (ex Ireland's SKID ROW) on Guitar)

14. Brought Down (on "Shades Of A Blue Orphanage” - their 2nd LP)

15. Remembering Part One (on "Thin Lizzy". This is credited as the 'US Edited Version' - but at 6:00 minutes it appears to me to be the same as the UK album version)

16. Chatting Today (on "Shades Of A Blue Orphanage” - their 2nd LP)

17. Broken Dreams (non-album B-side to "Randolph's Tango" – released May 1973 as their 2nd UK 45 on Decca F 13402 – both tracks were non-album at the time)

18. Little Girl In Bloom
(US Edited Version - it cuts down the "Vagabonds..." album cut from 5:14 minutes to 5:06 minutes and was apparently released like this on the 1973 AMERICAN versions of the "Vagabonds..." album)

Apart from the obvious rarity nature of many of these tracks what is thrilling is the stunning upgraded remastering that each has been given. A comparison of "Black Boys On The Corner" is one good example. Originally only available on the 1991 CD issue of “Vagabonds Of The Western World" as a bonus track in ok remastered sound - the upgrade here is just breathtaking. A truly great B-side (and far more indicative of their rockin' nature than the A) - it's been a fan-favourite for years and to hear it sound this good is an absolute blast.

Initially penciled in for release February 2008 - the first three albums on Decca "Thin Lizzy" (1971), “Shades Of A Blue Orphanage" (1972) and a 2CD Deluxe Edition of their wonderful 1973 LP "Vagabonds Of The Western World” finally arrived in 2010 after five or even six delays - and all of them with copious bonus tracks and top-quality remastering well worth the wait (see my reviews for all of them).

'Classic Thin Lizzy' is probably pushing the term here - but if you want a taster of those early years - “Classic/Universal Masters Collection" is an excellent CD compilation and a cheap way of accessing their earlier and wildly underrated material. And it’s a cool way to remember this beloved (original trio) of an Irish Rock Band and its much-missed leader - PHILIP PARIS LYNOTT. Rock on you peach…

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