Thin Lizzy is extremely easy to overlook and therefore dismiss. As recently as two months ago, I only knew Thin Lizzy for “Jailbreak” and “The Boys Are Back In Town”. Even the band’s name itself is the punchline of many a joke about 1970s rock. Too bad. Those who laugh are missing out on the music of one of rock and roll’s very best.
For whatever reason, the voluminous musical output of Thin Lizzy is fast disappearing from the public eye. This would be a major mistake, one that I myself am finally rectifying after many years. While there are several more Lizzy albums for me to explore, let me share my knowledge of “Fighting” with you, the Amazon reader/consumer.
Released in 1975, about six months before the band achieved massive success, “Fighting” is simply a straight-up, no-holds-barred, get-in-the-car-and-crank-the-jams album. This is a CD with no weaknesses, just ten rock classics that sadly border on obscurity.
Right now my favorite song is “Suicide”, with its blistering, Irish-jig style guitar solos from Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson. However, last week my favorite tune was the soulful, heartfelt “Wild One”, featuring the impassioned vocals of one of the all-time greats in Philip Lynott. Next week it will probably be another song, maybe their driving version of Bob Seger’s “Rosalie”. This album is that good.
I read comparisons of present-day rock bands like the Hold Steady to Thin Lizzy, and quite frankly that is the most ludicrous comparison in rock. Thin Lizzy rocked and they had a serious attitude, one borne of hard years on the back roads of Ireland honing their craft. The lyrics here are not your average Led Zep foppish tales of gothic doom and mountains. They’re very personal and hard-earned. The years of obscurity while watching lesser bands make bigger names for themselves had to have angered Lynott. Not only that, but some lyrics make clear that perhaps Lynott regarded himself as one of his biggest adversaries. Yet the music has a total energy, almost celebrating the strength he had gained from his trials. You’re not going to find this kind of soul-searching on any Eagles song.
No doubt they looked with scorn on some of those “lighter” sounds that were gaining fame and fortune during the time. You can hear it in “Ballad of a Hard Man”, which really IS the best song on the album. Here, Lynott isn’t just telling you about his pain — he’s showing you:
“I’ve been mixed up, cut up so sit down and shut up
‘Cause I’m a hard man
I was hung up, strung out but I can’t take no more junk
Even if you can”
Hard words, set over basic, pulsating, and unforgiving guitar riffs. Did Thin Lizzy blaze any new music trends with “Fighting”? No. But did they rock honestly and without pretense? Absolutely yes. Sure, they were trying to be rock stars, but on their own terms. Even if it meant keeping their fan base within a certain radius. If we’re going to bring back some of rock’s 70s music into the national consciousness, let’s at least bring back the good stuff!