Lizzy Rules, Zep Drools.

05Jan08

Phil Lynott

The most underrated band in rock and roll? Perhaps. While Led Zeppelin bask in the glory of overexposure, Thin Lizzy languish in relative obscurity despite a run of amazing albums during the latter half of the seventies that outshine the parallel output of that oft-vaunted “greatest band in rock and roll history”.

“The Boys Are Back In Town” is the only Lizzy song that gets any play on the average ‘classic rock’ radio station (with an honourable mention to “Jailbreak”) and I was sick of it by the time I was fifteen due to its inclusion on every hockey rink DJ’s play list from here to Manigotorsk. But the “boys”, understand, were wielding $50 hockey sticks, not M-16’s. Back from a goddam road trip to Hamilton, not from Vietnam as Mr. Lynott originally intended.

Yeah, Mr.

Phil Lynott is a hero of mine, regardless of his propensity for drug addiction. Badass motherfo. Black and Irish? That’s two strikes from the womb, son. But he was brilliant and persevered in the face of daunting odds. A poet. As vital as James Joyce, Brendan Behan, and Oscar Wilde. While Led fucking Zeppelin were writing about occultism and lemons, Phil was holding forth on Irish history and, you know, reality. Life and such.

People going about their day, getting by in any way they saw fit, be they junkie, be they truck driver, be they smalltime crook.

Fuck Jimmy Page. Fuck Robert Plant and fuck Led Zep’s glorified bullshit indulgences. Give me Eric Bell, Brian Robertson, Scott Gorham, or Gary Moore any day of the week.

The last five minutes of “Rosin Dubh” (taken from the album of the same name) is my single favorite piece of music ever. Absolutely breathtaking fretwork; if you aren’t moved by it, you have no soul — whether there’s Irish blood flowing through your veins or not.

Phil Lynott is also one of the most underrated bass players in the history of rock and roll, and he did it all while delivering some of the most expressive vocals ever. Not easy, as anyone who’s played bass and tried to sing will know — it’s an entirely different game.

But Phil was always tasteful, always melodic, never needlessly busy or flashy.

His playing served his music and lyrics, content to lay the foundation for myriad guitar pyrotechnics without ever once forcing himself obnoxiously to the fore when he obviously had the chops to do so if he so pleased.

Sure, Lizzy dallied in soft rock occasionally, but who could blame them? When a band that good still can’t get airplay despite their obvious talents, they’re bound to try anything to get over. Besides, their more restrained interludes were often imbued with just as much heart as the more rocking excursions — “Running Back” and “Dancing In The Moonlight” are easily two of my favorite Lizzy songs.

But no one cares about Thin Lizzy other than their hardcore fans.

Hopefully this will change. Lately, they’ve been getting a few namedrops from the indie illuminati, with The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn — genius in his own right — quick to mention Lizzy as a major influence.

Lately, I’ve been trying my damnedest to win more converts.

I’ve even made my peace with “The Boys Are Back In Town”, mainly due to the renditon on Live and Dangerous — as good a live album as Live at Leeds, and that’s saying something. As a result, I no longer associate the smell of a hockey bag with those opening power chords.

And maybe it’s the Tullamore Dew talking, but I love Thin Lizzy as any half-intelligent lover of the finer things in life should.

Remember, you can do anything you want to do.

Rest in peace Phil Lynott.

And always remember…

There are people that will investigate you
They’ll insinuate, intimidate and complicate you
Don’t ever wait or hesitate to state the fate that awaits those who
Try to shake or take you
Don’t let them break you

You can do anything you want to do
It’s not wrong what I sing it’s true
You can do anything you want to do
Do what you want to

People that despise you will analyse then criticise you
They’ll scandalise and tell lies until they realize
You are someone they should have apologised to
Don’t let these people compromise you
Be wise too

You can do anything you want to do
It’s not wrong what I sing it’s true
You can do anything you want to do
Do what you want to

Hey you you’re not their puppet on a string
You can do everything
It’s true if you really want to
You can do anything you want

Just like I do

You can do anything you want to do
It’s not wrong when I sing it’s true
You can do anything you want to do
Do what you want

Hey you
No can do
Hey you
Yes you

Elvis is dead
The king of Rock’n Roll is dead
Elvis is dead

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12 Responses to “Lizzy Rules, Zep Drools.”

  1. 1 El Mohamed

    Right on the mark, Thin Lizzy was one of the world’s best rock bands ever.
    Sadly, their influence on heavey and hard rock music is extrememly overlooked.
    Any band that can come up with songs such as “Emerlad, Black Rose, Jailbreak and, Still In Love With You” should be fovrever held as the standard for those who call themselves Rock ‘N’ Rollers.

    From one of those “People down in Hollywood.”
    El Mohamed
    Greetings to all Thin Lizzy fans

  2. My brother (10 years older than me) was a BIG Lizzy fan, this was in the 70’s when he was mid to late teens. So, I would frequently hear the dulcet tones of My Lynott belting out another work of art.

    But it wasnt for me, neither was Led Zep btw….. The only tunes to make me take notice was Free (hey! gimme some slack here, I was only 9 at the time). My Brother Jake, Wishing Well and of course Alright Now have become my very own Tardis (you do get Dr Who over there dont you?) taking me way back to a time swathed in Draylon, Fablon and other highly flammable casual wear…..

  3. 3 arsebundren

    I’ve only gained an appreciation for Lizzy over the past couple of years as I’ve began to venture outside the confines of punk into more verboten things like so-called classic rock, but I’ve yet to get into Dr. Who — which, yes, we do get over here and always have (including the new version of the show), but I’ve never actually watched an entire episode. Tardis sounds familiar, though… but I’ve probably heard a reference in a song, sort of like a Dalek — they’re the robots, right? — which pops up in a couple of Clash songs.

  4. 4 Scotto

    Your recent “venturing outside of punk” comment explains why, partially I suppose,you are an obvious idiot. You recently ” discovered” Thin Lizzy? Better late than never. All of the music and musicians you have mentioned have stood the test of time, more or less, and the Who and Thin Lizzy together do not come close to Zeppelin; Moon better than Bonham-laughable at best. Moon was basically worthless after 1970. If he was so great, why did the Who threaten to replace him ( which they did of course )every other Tuesday in the seventies? As for Lynott being a poet, how about this little gem from “Jailbreak”, and I quote: “Hey you, good lookin female, come over here”. Yes, poetry indeed. I am now going to go and wonder what it is like, for five seconds, to be a miserable idiot such as yourself. Ah, there is certainly no accounting of taste, and yours is located in your ass with what little gray matter you apparently possess…….then again, you still listen to “punk” rock. Is it still 1977? To quote another “poet” Johnny Lydon ( that would be Johnny Rotten, genius ): “Do you ever get the feeling you’ve been had?”

  5. 5 arsebundren

    Blotto,

    My, it sure is easy to wind up Zep fans. Insecure bunch, aren’t you? And what are you doing here anyways? Stop wasting your precious time wondering what it might be like to fill my shoes — you should really get back to one of the following: a) drooling over that new Eagles album, b) washing your Camry, c) sitting in a dark room somewhere chanting “it’s not RAP music, it’s CRAP music” or maybe, just maybe, d) further perfecting your penchant for pompous purple prose, you preening pariah. Dig that alliteration. Well, probably not, since your grasp of the english language is obviously so much firmer than that of an obvious idiot like myself (although I’m actually more of a subtle idiot in person). And for the record, the Lydon quote you butchered is “ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” — which, yes, I have… usually when I assume the average online denizen to possess the level of sophistication required to realize that I’m just having a good-natured go at an obvious target, yet again find myself waist-deep in the self-righteous bullshit of some joyless pseudo adolescent fanboy with a fetish for punctuation who, seemingly, cannot fathom the possibility that good taste in music just might begin somewhere beyond In Through The Out Door.

    Jeers!

  6. 6 Ashley

    I don’t know what the problem is here, why can’t everyone get along? I love Led Zeppelin and Thin Lizzy. They were both great in their own unique ways, if everyone sang the same music wouldn’t it be useless to love rock and roll?

  7. 7 Tye

    You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me. Saying that Led Zeppelin was overindulgent and too flashy… and comparing them to Thin Lizzy?

    Thin Lizzy was good, but you’re a fucking moron if you say that they’re better than Led Zeppelin. Of Lizzy’s body of work I think I may like 20% of it. Zeppelin ranks in at a 100% including the track The Battle Of Evermore strictly cause it’s a great EXPERIMENTATION. I usually could care less what the rest of the world thinks but I think it’s not quite a phenonmenon that they all love Zeppelin… you don’t just conquer the world on accident and 30 40 years later people STILL love you. The backstreet boys did it… but where the fuck are they now?

    Led Zeppelin oversang about LOVE… something that goes on today and will for the rest of our f’in lives. Even Stevie Ray Vaughan said if you can’t think about anything to sing about… go with love cause it ain’t going nowhere and anyone can relate.

    I respect that you’re going against the grain… but you’re trying to tie a a granny knot with two loops and it ain’t happenin’.

  8. 8 David

    Thin Lizzy would have be one of my very favourite bands.

    Led Zeppelin would be one of my least favourite bands.

    Who’s better? Led Zeppelin for sure. I just don’t like them as I can’t stand Robert Plant’s voice and I just find them a bit too wanky for me. But even I can recognise they were an amazing band and any fool can see they are one of the most influential bands ever. I think along with the Beatles I think Led Zeppelin will become one of those bands remembered 200 years from now (if the planet’s still around).

    But Thin Lizzy are truly an incredible band and in my mind probably the most underrated band in the history of rock. Phil Lynott just oozed charisma that is truly rare – someone who looks like a star the second they walk in the room. The drugs took a hold way too hard on these guys though and their standard of output suffered considerably for the last two albums. But the period of 1976 to 1979 (4 studio albums and 1 live album) is truly one of the greatest batch of records in rock and sadly under appreciated.

    On a final note, while Zeppelin will always be the kings of rock, Lizzy are actually getting more and more popular as the years go on – it’s weird. I got into them in about 1993 (I was 18 and saw a “Best of” in a cd shop and had this very vague memory of seeing them on tv when I was really little and liking them). So I bought it and was hooked. It’s only been in the last 3 or 4 years that I’ve noticed their popularity soar, and I’m in Australia. Youtube and their songs being in video games has been a huge boost I think.

    Zeppelin/ACDC/Thin Lizzy – best 3 bands of the 70s.

  9. 9 Charlotte

    Nobody ever mentions “Whiskey in the Jar”. If you get a chance and you haven’t already done so, find it and listen to it. For lots of us (probably especially any of us Irish people) that’s the BEST one they did and an all-time classic. I met him and got his autograph; he’s a lovely bloke to speak to.
    Blessings to you all!

    • 10 arsebundren

      Charlotte — ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ is indeed a classic, and a lot of the earlier stuff with Eric Bell on guitar seems to be quite underrated, even among Lizzy fans. But I wish I could forget about the Metallica version of WITJ. Gross.

  10. 11 Calgary

    I am really suprised that no one has mentioned “Cowboy Song”, it is my favorite Lizzy song. That song and Lynott were a match made in Heaven.

  11. Thin Lizzy is my favorite band since I’ve found the best of while i was ten.
    When I hear It’s Only Money, Suicide, Emerald I still know that they were LIVE BAND. As all alive lizzy members said, they’re touring, and their power was at the concerts 😀 So I recommend LIVE AND DANGEROUS and STILL ALIVE AND DANGEROUS, the best albums… Great songs, melodies, solos. Zeps couldn’t play as well as Thin Lizzy live. Ther were two different bands, Led Zeppelin was more experimental, jam, psychedelic LIzyy more “rocker” and soul staff. Keep On Rockin!

    ps. Brian Downey is the most underrated rock drummer. He kicked double bass drum as no one at this times. Opium trail for you


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