Thin Lizzy - Black Rose review


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Band: Thin Lizzy
Album: Black Rose
Release date: 1979

01. Do Anything You Want To
02. Toughest Street In Town
03. S & M
04. Waiting For An Alibi
05. Sara
06. Got To Give It Up
07. Get Out Of Here
08. With Love
09. Roisin Dubh (Black Rose) - A Rock Legend

A flower by any other name would be just as beautiful.

Thin Lizzy are one of those bands who make their fans argue in circles as to what a definitive compilation album should contain; such is the wealth of their material, you could never fit in all their hits and please everyone. Adding to this conundrum is Black Rose, an album that divides fans into what tracks are the best but unites them as to how good the album is.

The on-and-off Gary Moore was in once more, adding his blues-infused stylings to the Celtic musings of Lynott to create a hybrid sound that shows the real MVP in Irish rock is Thin Lizzy and not U2. Combining these styles within the Thin Lizzy sound makes for compelling listening and produces a wealth of great tracks. From the instant hit opener "Do Anything You Want To" to the winding and epic journey of "Roisin Dubh", you have an album full of hits and no misses, from chart hits to deep cuts that stand shoulder to shoulder with barely an inch between them.

The album is perhaps the band's darkest, dealing in themes with a greater edge and more grit than had been usual to this point; the tales of characters and Irish themes are still very much there, but with greater inflection on the darker side of human nature. From rough times to rough sex, and from gambling to giving up, it's done with the trademark poetic touch but goes further than before.

Perhaps the most poignant and, in retrospect, morose affair is "Got To Give It Up", Lynott's ode to addiction, seeming like he had been looking at a crystal ball rather than the bottom of a bottle, for he essentially soundtracks his own losing battle with alcohol and drug addiction. The song combines the insightful and dark themes with a great soundtrack that makes for a compelling listen and warning that even though you are aware of the risks, they can still sneak up on you with lethal consequences.

It is perhaps as a means of compensation that the album does contain some of the more uplifting moments that band would produce, with "Do Anything You Want To" trying to free the listener from the shackles of restraint, both those imposed internally and externally, and to live the life you want. From the ode to his young child "Sarah" to the witty and well-constructed tribute to the band's Irish ancestry and history in "Roisin Dubh", Lynott and the band ensure to pull the listener from the depths of darkness to the heights of the beauty in life.

While most fingers point to Moore's guitar as to the reason why Black Rose is such a good album, I feel the real secret weapon is Lynott's bass, which plays a prominent though seemingly overlooked role. While Lynott's bass has always featured prominently in the band's formula, here I believe he has his best bass sound and as a result creates the perfect union of playing and production that is sewn into each and every corner of the album. From the upfront groove-infused "Waiting For An Alibi" to the strong underpinnings to tracks like "Roisin Dubh" and "Get Out Of Here", Lynott adds a lot to this record in both the spotlight and also when behind the rest of the band.

For many, this album would prove to be the last big hurrah and classic in the band's legacy; while I dispute the fall in quality the band would undergo, what isn't arguable is the scale of the heights the band would reach with Black Rose. Punctuating the end of the decade that saw the band make their name, Thin Lizzy signed off in style and on one hell of a high note.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Production: 9


Written on 01.11.2020 by Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening.


Comments: 1   Visited by: 17 users
01.11.2020 - 21:12
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Tage Westerlund
Reading you part about bass, I might say Lynott was better bass player as Lemmy was. I wont say since I dont know whats going on in jazz n blues, but rock n metal, those 2 were good, but he was better I think.
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