Sunday Big Note — Listening Session #22

Usually, when most think of the Irish hard rock band, Thin Lizzy, formed in Dublin in 1969, songs like “Whiskey in the Jar”, “Jailbreak” and especially “The Boys Are Back in Town” come to mind. Not surprising since these songs are still staples of hard rock and classic rock stations. Yet, as a hard rock band, peculiarly enough, it wasn’t until their fifth album, Fighting, in 1975, and the advent of their twin guitar sound that they really began to achieve lasting success as a group, followed by their breakthrough album, Jailbreak, in 1976.

I’ve always liked the music of Thin Lizzy and their defacto leader, Phil Lynott’s exquisite bass playing which uniquely took centre stage in many Thin Lizzy songs. I particularly relished how Lynott’s songs took a distinctive turn away from most of the 70s hard rock and metal bands by speaking about working class slices-of-life and personal dramas of love and hate on Dublin’s mean, troubled streets. Combine this with the band’s exceptional guitar work and it’s really no surprise that Thin Lizzy developed such a loyal, long lasting following.

For this Sunday Big Note, I’m very pleased to present for your listening pleasure this quintessential Thin Lizzy concert – the soundboard recorded for King Biscuit of Thin Lizzy performing at Tower Theatre, Upper Darby, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 20th, 1977 (crank this one up loud fellow KUR-Meisters):

Introduction

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Soldier Of Fortune

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Jailbreak

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Johnny

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Warriors

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Dancing In The Moonlight

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Massacre

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Still In Love Wth You

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Cowboy Song

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The Boys Are Back In Town

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Opium Trail

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Don’t Believe a Word

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Emerald

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Bad Reputation/Drum Solo

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Baby Drives Me Crazy

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Me And The Boys

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Are You Ready

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Line-up:

Brian Downey – drums, percussion
Scott Gorham – lead guitar, backing vocals
Phil Lynott – bass guitar, lead vocals
Brian Robertson – lead guitar, backing vocals

28 Responses to “Sunday Big Note — Listening Session #22”

  1. Robin says:

    Great posting! What a live-band. Great to hear Phill Lynott sing and play bass this way at the same time. We miss him a lot, don’t we?

  2. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Robin:

    Great posting! What a live-band. Great to hear Phill Lynott sing and play bass this way at the same time. We miss him a lot, don’t we?

    It’s great that someone else is excited about a bassist-led band – especially since in most instances the bass player almost always takes a backing position in most bands (not Thin Lizzy, though). I recall when Lynott died, all their was were hair metal bands (not that Lynott had great hair, himself).

  3. Dark Clothes says:

    Morphine was a great bassist-led band, too – and fine live act. Mark Sandman (RIP) got some really deep, beautiful tones out of that three-string bass. And he was a funny front man, sort of similar to Zappa in his mock cynicism – “Okay, now we’ve played for 45 minutes, that’s all taht you’ve paid for” – and then they would go on for another coupla hours, with a running commentary about the economy of it all. It was a shock that he died so early (like Lynott), but they left an impressive catalogue.

    - Sorry to go off topic, but I was instantly reminded of Sandman and Morphine when you talked about bassist-led bands.

  4. BlackZone says:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    It’s great that someone else is excited about a bassist-led band

    I grew up listenning to Iron Maiden! I loved it – Steve Harris rulez! :-)

  5. Harry Barris says:

    Lemmy/Motorhead, Primus/Claypool to name just two (more). There must be countless others…

  6. Jamez says:

    ‘Live and Dangerous’ by Lizzy is a MUST-HAVE live album!

  7. urbangraffito says:

    It’s kind of ironic HB, that you named Motorhead in your list of bassist-led bands since Brian Robertson joined Motorhead briefly in 1983. Indeed, there are countless bassist-led bands now, yet I always felt that Lynott was one of the forerunners who made the bass more than just an accompanying instrument in the decades that followed. I’d be interested to know how many actual bassist-led bands there actually are, and what favourite cuts people might have from these bands.

    Jamez, I’m certainly a big fan of Mark Sandman and Morphine (as well as the band that preceded Morphine, Treat Her Right) and his two-string self designed bass guitar and the low rock sound he created. ‘Live and Dangerous’ is, indeed, a must have album, and is on my list of favourite live albums (though it’s debatable that it can be considered a pure live album since it was overdubbed so much and tracks were taken from multiple sources). That’s the reason why I consider Thin Lizzy’s Tower Theater concert the best example of their live show: it was used on ‘Live and Dangerous’ and many other releases, too (Still Dangerous, for example).

  8. Slap says:

    Bass-led bands….hmmmm….How ’bout Rush?

    Also, the Police.

    One from way back — the first Back Door album, with Colin Hodgkinson on bass — a major bit of fire, that one.

    I’m embarrassed to further add….gulp….Winger. (Hey, nobody said GOOD bass-led bands….)

  9. urbangraffito says:

    It’s somewhat embarrassing for a Canadian to have forgotten Rush from any list of bass-led bands. The only excuse, perhaps, was that I was a late fan to Rush myself. I was an earlier fan of the Police, though. I admired how so few musicians could create such a unique and eclectic sound for the times (indeed, Zenyatta Mondatta and Synchronicity are still two of my favourite albums). I always wondered, though, why it took until 2007 until the Police finally released a live album, Live In Rio. To me, the ultimate judgement of a band is how well they perform live (a test so many 80s bands fail, in my opinion).

  10. Slap says:

    I’m laughing, Urban….Canadians aside, in a music blog filled with highly knowledgeable contributors, I was a little surprised I was the first to mention them — and I’m not even a fan. (Not an opponent, by any means — I respect them immensely, but they never tickled my ears.)

    I’m in absolute agreement about the live aspect, with the exception of bands who specifically don’t tour (such as late-period Beatles, or post-English Settlement XTC, for example). I recently heard a mid-70s live Spirit rendition of Mr. Skin, and was very disappointed — I can only hope it was a bad night for them. Granted, the original version was a highly-produced bit of LA psych, and the gap between studio possibilities and stage possibilities was FAR wider back then — but there are plenty of bands who manage to retool studio complexities to fit the impact of a smaller live ensemble.

  11. Proverbial Sterbus says:

    Well, Sir Paul did a good job too on that roof-top :)

  12. Slap says:

    A quote from Proverbial Sterbus:

    Well, Sir Paul did a good job too on that roof-top :)

    True enough, dat! Although I’d hesitate to include the fabs in a “bass-led bands” list, since he wasn’t the sole lead vocalist or lead instrumentalist. That leads to a whole nuther category, of bands with singing bassists — which would then have to include Poco/the Eagles (Meisner and Schmidt), ZZ Top, Yes….

  13. Robert says:

    Before i got into real music such as King Crimson, Yes, and, of course, FZ, i liked me some Level 42, yet another bassist-led band.

  14. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Proverbial Sterbus:

    Well, Sir Paul did a good job too on that roof-top :)

    The Beatles certainly started something atop the roof of Apple Studios in Savile Row, London on January 30, 1969:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqiAl84ipIk

    Which U2 no doubt attributed to in their 80s video, “Where The Streets Have No Name”:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQxl9EI9YBg&feature=fvsr

    As well as U2′s anniversary tribute to the Beatles original concert atop of BBC Broadcasting house, London 40 years later:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQxl9EI9YBg&feature=fvsr

  15. Jamez says:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    It’s kind of ironic HB, that you named Motorhead in your list of bassist-led bands since Brian Robertson joined Motorhead briefly in 1983. Indeed, there are countless bassist-led bands now, yet I always felt that Lynott was one of the forerunners who made the bass more than just an accompanying instrument in the decades that followed. I’d be interested to know how many actual bassist-led bands there actually are, and what favourite cuts people might have from these bands.

    Jamez, I’m certainly a big fan of Mark Sandman and Morphine (as well as the band that preceded Morphine, Treat Her Right) and his two-string self designed bass guitar and the low rock sound he created. ‘Live and Dangerous’ is, indeed, a must have album, and is on my list of favourite live albums (though it’s debatable that it can be considered a pure live album since it was overdubbed so much and tracks were taken from multiple sources). That’s the reason why I consider Thin Lizzy’s Tower Theater concert the best example of their live show: it was used on ‘Live and Dangerous’ and many other releases, too (Still Dangerous, for example).

    I’ll have to get the ‘Still Dangerous’ CD as I haven’t got it yet, Urban.

  16. Jeroen says:

    In death metal there are a lot of singers with a bas guitar in their hands, mostly turned down because they can’t play.
    Exeption is Morbid Angel where Dave Vincent is a very good bass player. And in Cannible Corpse bassist Alex is the main song writer and way up the mix.

    I know death metal vocals are an acquired taste, but the technicallity of some of the bands is worth checking out.

    Jeroen

  17. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Jamez:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    It’s kind of ironic HB, that you named Motorhead in your list of bassist-led bands since Brian Robertson joined Motorhead briefly in 1983. Indeed, there are countless bassist-led bands now, yet I always felt that Lynott was one of the forerunners who made the bass more than just an accompanying instrument in the decades that followed. I’d be interested to know how many actual bassist-led bands there actually are, and what favourite cuts people might have from these bands.

    Jamez, I’m certainly a big fan of Mark Sandman and Morphine (as well as the band that preceded Morphine, Treat Her Right) and his two-string self designed bass guitar and the low rock sound he created. ‘Live and Dangerous’ is, indeed, a must have album, and is on my list of favourite live albums (though it’s debatable that it can be considered a pure live album since it was overdubbed so much and tracks were taken from multiple sources). That’s the reason why I consider Thin Lizzy’s Tower Theater concert the best example of their live show: it was used on ‘Live and Dangerous’ and many other releases, too (Still Dangerous, for example).

    I’ll have to get the ‘Still Dangerous’ CD as I haven’t got it yet, Urban.

    If you compare the tracklist from Still Dangerous: Live at the Tower Theatre you might recognize some of the tracks from SBN #22: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Still_Dangerous

    One of selling points of Still Dangerous over Live and Dangerous is that Still Dangerous has no overdubs and has selections from the Tower shows over two nights. It’s well worth it.

  18. Slap says:

    Remembered another:

    Blue Cheer.

    Insanely heavy….

  19. Jeff Taylor says:

    How can one omit Les Claypool and Primus? A band that has adhered stringently to the edict, “Music is the best”, or for that matter, somebody from whom Zappa culled some of the “Feel” (with eyebrows) of his music, Charles Mingus. Not to mention John Paul Jones; catch him on a solo bill. You’ll really appreciate his contribution to Zeppelin, on entirely different level.

  20. Slap says:

    A quote from Jeff Taylor:

    How can one omit Les Claypool and Primus? A band that has adhered stringently to the edict, “Music is the best”, or for that matter, somebody from whom Zappa culled some of the “Feel” (with eyebrows) of his music, Charles Mingus. Not to mention John Paul Jones; catch him on a solo bill. You’ll really appreciate his contribution to Zeppelin, on entirely different level.

    It was brief, but Harry Barris upthread mentioned Primus.

    I appreciate your nod towards Mingus, but I suspect we’re talking about electric, rock/fusion bands so far. If you wanna start a jazz bass diversion, I’m up for it: I see your Mingus, and raise you a Dave Holland and a Charlie Haden.

  21. Jimbob says:

    I’ll take that Haden and raise you a Colin Hodgkinson…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gutdzlHK6E&feature=related

  22. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Jeff Taylor:

    How can one omit Les Claypool and Primus? A band that has adhered stringently to the edict, “Music is the best”, or for that matter, somebody from whom Zappa culled some of the “Feel” (with eyebrows) of his music, Charles Mingus. Not to mention John Paul Jones; catch him on a solo bill. You’ll really appreciate his contribution to Zeppelin, on entirely different level.

    Believe me, Jeff, I’ve given myself a hefty kick in the keyster for initially omitting Primus:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kY7jSesdxl0

  23. Slap says:

    A quote from Jimbob:

    I’ll take that Haden and raise you a Colin Hodgkinson…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gutdzlHK6E&feature=related

    A quote from Slap:

    One from way back — the first Back Door album, with Colin Hodgkinson on bass — a major bit of fire, that one.

    Beat ya to it, but thanks for the link — I had no idea he was still scorching the earth with those amazing fingers….!

  24. Dougal says:

    A quote from Dougal:

    It’s somewhat embarrassing for a Canadian to have forgotten Rush from any list of bass-led bands.

    NoMeansNo are also Canucks…

    And Rick James actually got his career going in Canada (playing with Neil Young).

    A quote from Dougal:

    In death metal there are a lot of singers with a bas guitar in their hands, mostly turned down because they can’t play.

    Tom Araya and Peter Steele would also fall into the crap-bassist-singer. It seems like in Metal the singer-bassplayer was like the Chick Bassplayer in 90s indie rock…

    No-one mentioned Mike Watt. And Hooky wasn’t a frontman, but I’d say he played lead bass.

  25. Dougal says:

    Probably the closest to Thin Lizzy: Skyhooks are a band where you can really hear the songs were written by the bass player.

  26. Plooker says:

    I saw Mike Watt on tuesday, Good show. Ya Kill, Ya Mame!

  27. Slap says:

    A quote from Dougal:

    Probably the closest to Thin Lizzy: Skyhooks are a band where you can really hear the songs were written by the bass player.

    WOW.

    Skyhooks?

    Jeebus, I haven’t heard of them since my record store days in the ’70s! And I do well remember those album covers….

  28. Jamez says:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    A quote from Jamez:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    It’s kind of ironic HB, that you named Motorhead in your list of bassist-led bands since Brian Robertson joined Motorhead briefly in 1983. Indeed, there are countless bassist-led bands now, yet I always felt that Lynott was one of the forerunners who made the bass more than just an accompanying instrument in the decades that followed. I’d be interested to know how many actual bassist-led bands there actually are, and what favourite cuts people might have from these bands.

    Jamez, I’m certainly a big fan of Mark Sandman and Morphine (as well as the band that preceded Morphine, Treat Her Right) and his two-string self designed bass guitar and the low rock sound he created. ‘Live and Dangerous’ is, indeed, a must have album, and is on my list of favourite live albums (though it’s debatable that it can be considered a pure live album since it was overdubbed so much and tracks were taken from multiple sources). That’s the reason why I consider Thin Lizzy’s Tower Theater concert the best example of their live show: it was used on ‘Live and Dangerous’ and many other releases, too (Still Dangerous, for example).

    I’ll have to get the ‘Still Dangerous’ CD as I haven’t got it yet, Urban.

    If you compare the tracklist from Still Dangerous: Live at the Tower Theatre you might recognize some of the tracks from SBN #22: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Still_Dangerous

    One of selling points of Still Dangerous over Live and Dangerous is that Still Dangerous has no overdubs and has selections from the Tower shows over two nights. It’s well worth it.

    I’ll look out for it.

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