There is no doubt, despite the hoo-hah of whether it is "Live" or the product of studio overdubs, that 'Live and Dangerous' is just about the definitive Live rock album ever released (The Who: Live At Leeds, Iron Maiden: Live After Death and Motorhead: No Sleep Til Hammersmith run it close).
But of their 12 studio albums, only 'Jailbreak' is the complete article
Whether it was the "flat" production, songs not being quite "there", or maybe it was the time taken to record which lost their spontaneity. Whatever it was, all the albums have their moments (and very fine moments indeed), but only 'Jailbreak' sustains it over 40 minutes.
Within 6 months, their first single was in the shops - it sold next to nothing, and the band returned to Ireland for a re-think.
Constant gigging and support in the UK from Kid Jensen and John Peel led to a 3 album offer, and they wasted no time relocating to London and recording their first album.
There is a certain Celtic-Folk twang to the first three albums ('Thin Lizzy', 'Shades of a Blue Orphanage', Vagabonds of the Western World'). The nascent Lizzy hallmarks are there - Phil Lynott's narration, a bit of romanticism, and a solid rock backing that is on the verge of exploding - but these albums are not that earth-shattering to be honest.
Except perhaps the echoes of the future in the shape of "The Rocker".
Their commercial breakthrough came at the end of their Decca contract when the single "Whiskey In The Jar" nestled in the Top 10.
This success led another record company to offer them a deal and they delivered 'Nightlife' soon after.
Thin Lizzy were a settled, solid unit - Phil Lynott was the archetypal rock & roller - all leather pants, posturing and heavy drinking (plus some "other substances"). Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson were the very textbook definition of a twin-lead guitar attack, and Brian Downey sat at the back holding it all together. But still album success eluded them.
After the soulful, acoustic-y 'Nightlife', 'Fighting' was there next attempt to place their live show on record. This was their fifth attempt, and whilst the twin guitar attack is full-on and everything is rocking nicely, this one still falls just short. It did however translate into their first big seller.
And then came their moment - their signature song "The Boys Are Back In Town" was released as a single, flew into the Top 10, hung around a bit, and fuelled sales of the parent album.
After 6 years, a couple of personnel changes and two record labels, all was coming good.
There is a certain strength, immediacy and energy from note 1 to the run out groove on side 2.
Highlights include the aforementioned "Boys ...", the titular "Jailbreak", "Warriors", "Cowboy Song"and "Emerald".
Across 14 tracks, you can barely get a fag paper in any crack in the bands playing, and the soulful drool of Lynott's vocal just makes it sound "a bit different" from other straight 70s Rock albums.
'Johnny The Fox' arrived at the back end of the same year. It may have perhaps benefited from a bit more time and fettling.
The simple thing to do would've been to create 'Jailbreak Part 2' but Lynott was stretching and the band were playing along. There were some relationship issues coming to the fore - namely Phil Lynott and Brian Robertson, which culminated in Robbo being "suspended" when a hand injury put in jeopardy the imminent US tour (step forward super-sub Gary Moore, who had filled in as a touring guitarist back in 1974).
Brian Robertson returned (albeit briefly) for the recording of 'Bad Reputation' and stayed on board for the tour in support of it, and for the selection of recordings (and possibly overdubbing if history/myth/legend is to be believed) that formed the 'Live And Dangerous' album.
The album is one of the foremost Live documents in Rock, and showcases the "classic line-up" in their natural environment.
But ... one month later, Brian Robertson was gone for good. Gary Moore stepped in (again) as the full time replacement.
Thin Lizzy's attitude, and Lynott's gregariousness, allowed the band to be (generally) accepted by the Punk, and Phil Lynott marked this with a collaboration with drinking buddies Steve Jones and Paul Cook to form the live only Greedy Bastards (not that they stayed live only, releasing a cash in Christmas single "We Wish You A Merry Jingle" at the end of 1978).
With Gary Moore in the camp, work began on the next album - 'Black Rose: A Rock Legend'.
Relationships inside the band appeared to be running far smoother since Robertson's departure and it shows in the quality of the songs and the energy of the album. Including "Do Anything You Want To", "Waiting For An Alibi" and the 7 minute title track "Róisín Dubh (Black Rose): A Rock Legend" - this batch of songs is almost as strong as 'Jailbreak'
If you feel you need another Lizzy album in your collection, this is the one to go for.
And as often happens in the Lizzy camp, as there star begun to rise, it fell again just as quickly with Gary Moore leaving mid-tour - Midge Ure was parachuted in to complete the US dates (apparently he learnt the set list on the plane over to the US).
1980 started with the completion of recording for Phil Lynott's solo album, the selection of Snowy White as replacement guitarist and the commencement of recording for 'Chinatown'.
And the cracks are beginning to show on this album - whether it was the distraction of a solo career, tiredness from years of incessant touring, the new guitarist not yet gelling with the band - whatever it was, the album feels a bit forced and a bit "contractual obligation". The singles lifted from the album ("Chinatown" and "Killer On The Loose") are it's undoubted high points.
This feeling continues with 1981s 'Renegade', if anything the incompatibility of Snowy White and Thin Lizzy is compounded - only "Hollywood (Down on Your Luck)" passes muster (to these ears).
The last throw of the dice came in 1983 with final album 'Thunder And Lightning'. The album is patchy at best and you get the feeling the "thrill" had gone.
The first song written for the band by new guitarist John Sykes (ex Tygers Of Pan Tang) was the single "Cold Sweat" - this song would also provide Thin Lizzy with their last TV appearance, and the tour in support of the album was to be their last. The band split (although no-one believed for good) at the end of 1983.
Boys Are Back In Town
Everyone knows it, but I don't think you can ever tire of it
"Tonight there gonna be a Jailbreak. Somewhere in this town" - check the Jail house, its bound to be there
Rosalie / Cowboy Song
Another of their signature songs (albeit a cover of a Bob Seger track), mixing seamlessly with another top track from Jailbreak - from Lie And Dangerous