In 1976 Thin Lizzy’s quest to break America stalled as they flew home exhausted (and in Phil Lynott’s case laid low with hepatitis).
From his sick bed he mapped out the songs that would form the second album of 1976 – Johnny The Fox (released in October, just 7 months after Jailbreak).
When the supporting tour hit Hammersmith Odeon in November, the Maison Rouge Mobile Studio was parked out front to capture the 2 shows for posterity, archive, and potential use to push Lizzy in America.
The US Tour in December was cancelled when, on the night before, Brian Robertson injured his hand in a brawl at the Speakeasy Club. Robertson was replaced for the revised US Tour in January by Gary Moore, but part way through the recording of the next album – 'Bad Reputation' – he was re-instated.
'Bad Reputation' was produced by Tony Visconti, and when considering their next album Thin Lizzy sought his services again. Visconti’s time was limited as he was due to start work with David Bowie. As time was limited, it was suggested a Live album would be the solution, and the tapes from Hammersmith 1976, and a variety of shows from the recent US Tour in October 1977 dusted off and listened through.
Thin Lizzy and Tony Visconti decamped to Paris to sift through and assemble the package, and it is here at the Des Dames Studio that the myths and legend of the album begins.
Is it really a LIVE album? Each participant has a different story.
- Brian Downey is adamant that no changes were made to the drums
- Phil Lynott concedes that a couple of bass parts, some backing vocals, and vocal fluffs were re-recorded/over-dubbed as they were lost in the mix of the original recording
- Scott Gorham concurs with the backing vocals, but also states he only fixed one guitar part as a result of a fan climbing his leg during a solo, and re-did a rhythm part which he lost time on
- Brain Robertson claims he spent no more than 15 minutes re-recording/over-dubbing small errors and missing notes
- Tony Visconti however claims that 75% of the album was re-recorded in the studio.
Personally, I think the bulk of that 75% was assembling the various recordings, finding the best takes, and splicing together so you can’t hear the join. It’s true he was late joining up with David Bowie for the assembly and production for 'Stage' as his work on 'Live and Dangerous' over-ran, and I applaud Tony Visconti for spending the time capturing the energy, commitment and enjoyment of the band on stage.
Thin Lizzy on record and Thin Lizzy on stage are almost 2 different animals, and 'Live And Dangerous' contains the best, arguably definitive, versions of many tracks – "Emerald", "Southbound", "Rosalie", "Don’t Believe A Word", "Still In Love With You", and "The Rocker" being particularly notable.
The original CD release (from 1989) although claiming to be Digitally Remastered sounds flat compared to the original vinyl issue.
This 2022 Remaster rectifies that, and a rapturous audience supporting a passionate and energetic band, bouncing between all-out twin guitar attack and expressive, romantic, elegiac moments shines through.
(* "twin guitar attack" - it is compulsory to use this phrase when discussing Thin Lizzy)
This 8CD set packages the remastered version of the original document, with 6 full live shows which provided the source material, plus the March 1978 concert at The Rainbow filmed for a TV Special that was never shown.
Admittedly, all the extra shows may not be making regular visits to the turntable/CD Player/Streaming platform of choice, but their presence allows one to compare and contrast different full shows versus final album, and to marvel at the bands power and consistency.
Listening to the alternative shows casts further doubt on Visconti’s re-recording estimates. Lizzy’s commitment and energy on stage never falls – yes there are errors, but it’s all about the performance, presence, and atmosphere.
It may not need a Super Deluxe issue to cement it’s place in the pantheon of great Live albums, but this set ensure the profile of the album when the next Top 10 list is compiled.
Will this release bring an end to the “is it really live though?” debate.
Maybe not, but armed with the source material in this box set (plus new sleeve notes, and a plethora of photos), and also a perusal of the later released 'Life' Live album, you get a pretty clear picture of the power of Thin Lizzy on a stage, and whilst there may be some fluffs and errors creeping in, there is nowhere near enough failing in performance to warrant re-recording 3 quarters of it