1973, Music

Vagabonds of the Western World (1973) by Thin Lizzy

I’ve been meaning to listen to Thin Lizzy since I listened to classic rock almost exclusively (i.e. for 20 years). For some reason that has never happened. And now I find myself listening to a different album that their reputed best. I worried that was a recipe for disaster. Good thing Thin Lizzy are pretty great.

Lynott is a pretty great songwriter, at least for his chosen genre. ’70s hard rock doesn’t have a lot of great songwriters so its’ pretty easy to stand out. And Lynott is just above average, but compared to some of these bands, his songs are both catchy and intelligent. (Even when he gets really weird – borderline psychedelic – he’s at least relatively intelligent about it.) There’s also a slight celtic influence in a couple of these songs, which is refreshing to me.

The band itself is pretty great and I particularly like Eric Bell’s guitar playing as he does enough things to make me notice him.

The mix is a little weird, with Lynott’s bass often hilariously far forward compared to a standard recording – or perhaps Bell’s guitar is just further back than it would be on most hard rock of the era – and the occasional effects have dated, as you would imagine. But on the whole, you can hear the band well, and this a record which is relatively free of overdubs compared to the records of its time, which is a nice change.

I am surprised how much I like this. Maybe that will change in time – when my sense of surprise wears off – but hopefully it doesn’t.

8/10

  1. “Mama Nature Said” (Phil Lynott) 4:52
  2. “The Hero and the Madman” (Lynott) 6:08
  3. “Slow Blues” (Brian Downey, Lynott) 5:14
  4. “The Rocker” (Eric Bell, Downey, Lynott) 5:12
  5. “Vagabond of the Western World” (Lynott) 4:44
  6. “Little Girl in Bloom” (Lynott) 5:12
  7. “Gonna Creep Up on You” (Bell, Lynott) 3:27
  8. “A Song for While I’m Away” (Lynott) 5:10
  • Philip Lynott – bass guitar, vocals, associate producer
  • Eric Bell – guitars
  • Brian Downey – drums, percussion

Additional Musicians

  • Kid Jensen – voice on “The Hero and the Madman”
  • Jan Schelhaas – organ on “Mama Nature Said” and “The Hero and the Madman”
  • Fiachra Trench – string arrangement on “A Song for While I’m Away”

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