Don’t ask me how or why, but I’ve managed to find a way of making posts with this dying PC just until I get me birthday money in. Yes, fans, I have returned in a small way. Since my tearful farewell last month, a lot has happened, and all of it good. Due solely to the efforts of Gary over at John Peel Everyday, I now have Ken Garner’s The Peel Sessions book. Tapes of the long-lost 1978 and 79 Festive Fifties have at last come to light. And yesterday, my dear wife got me a portable DVD player for my birthday!!!
So, let’s strap on our knee-length boots once again, and consider the small phenomenon of Thin Lizzy. Those of you who came to Peel in later years, either when he was punk-besotted or grime-besmirched would probably prefer to gloss over his greasy rocker years. However, Thin Lizzy were an essential part of all that: they recorded a hefty 11 Peel sessions, and Live And Dangerous was in the album racks alongside No More Heroes and Never Mind The Bollocks. Scott Gorham has the lowdown on why they were punk survivors:
The punk thing never really bothered us. In fact, we embraced it, we were closer to the punk attitude than the pomp rock: other bands would go off-stage, have the towel draped over their shoulders, into the limo and away. We’d stay and have parties backstage – we were a street-type band. [The Peel Sessions, p. 88-9]
The band crossed a fair few frontiers in their time: for an Irish band to have Protestants and Catholics playing together was unheard of: to have a black vocalist/bassist was something else again. Success seemed to be a long time coming after Whisky In the Jar hit the charts in 1973, but the addition of Gary Moore on guitar to augment their legendary double-lead sound was, to my ears at least, something of an advance.
Jailbreak debuted in 1976, while the smelly green fingers of punk were about to scratch the sky of our generation. It still stands up as a meaty piece of rock: The Cowboy Song still resonates in the corners of my memory, with its hints of country and solid rock bravado. But it wasn’t the last track on the LP. Emerald (FF 1978 #49) was the one that made it to Peel’s second listener’s chart. A fair few of you have scoffed at the rock offered on here in the past…but it is a fact that Deep Purple have shifted more downloads than anything else this year, and I expect this to do the same.
A quiet minor chord opening and rattling hi-hat leads one inexorably to a mock-Celtic tale of brigands in battle: ‘Down from the glen came the marching men/With their shields and their swords/To fight the fight they believed to be right/To overthrow the overlords’ drawls Lynott. But this is all merely a precursor to the battle being fought on a different terrain to the mountains of Ireland, to a duel not with swords but between Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson’s axes, which reaches a height of squalling frenzy before a duet as resolution.
Although Lizzy would go on to greater commercial success (and a single with two of the Sex Pistols, as if to flaunt their punk credentials), this album and this track must surely be a standout in a debonair career. Just one more thing…it’s great to be back. A big thank you to everyone who checked in on me during my convalescence!