Saturday, 16 June 2018

Thin Lizzy - Shades Of A Blue Orphanage (1972)

Love is like a peppermint machine....

  

Released March 1972

Recorded at De Lane Lea Studios, Wembley, London

Thin Lizzy, still not the full-on rock band they became, this was still a quite impressive, quality sounding album of folky at times but rhythmic rock, with some stunning guitar work from what was still a three-piece of bassist Phil Lynott, guitarist Eric Bell and drummer Brian Downey.

TRACK LISTING

1. The Rise And Dear Demise Of The Funky Nomadic Tribes
2. Buffalo Gal
3. I Don't Want To Forget How To Jive
4. Sarah (Version 1)
5. Brought Down
6. Baby Face
7. Chatting Today
8. Call The Police
9. Shades Of A Blue Orphanage
10. Whiskey In The Jar
11. Black Boys On The Corner                          

"The Rise And Dear Demise Of The Funky Nomadic Tribes" is an odd, pretentiously-titled opener with a quirky drum sound, and some excellent guitar in an extended instrumental intro. It is a difficult sing to categorise. It is lengthy and instrumentally diverse, as in progressive rock but in other ways it is pure rock, with a few jazz and funk rhythms in there somewhere, plus a “heavy rock” drum solo at the end. It served to exemplify a band who didn’t quite know which direction they wanted to go in as yet. Thin Lizzy’s first two albums were rather like those of Scottish rockers Nazareth, a bit folky, a bit “prog”,  a bit Celtic, a bit acoustic. For both bands, the third album saw them go “hard rock”.

“Buffalo Gal” is a lovely piece of soulful, tuneful rock with Lynott in fine seductive voice. Despite something of a lack of defined direction, this album is immaculately played, and this remastering sounds great too. This is such a fine laid-back tune. There is something down-home and appealing about these early Thin Lizzy albums. A sort of loveable wide-eyed, honest innocence. “I Don’t Want To Forget How To Jive” is, however, a strange late 50s Elvis-style spoof, that is pretty pointless and a bit of a mess. Thankfully, it is over in less than two minutes and we then get the sparsely-backed ballad, “Sarah (version 1)". Lynott’s voice is a bit shaky on this one. It is ok, but it feels a little incomplete, particularly vocally. The folky rock of “Brought Down” has a vocal delivery more of the kind we have come to expect. Nice to get a bit more power in a sing again after the last two. Some excellent guitar in it from Eric Bell.

“Baby Face” is a welcome piece of upbeat, driving rock, with some heavy overtones. ”Chatting Today” is acoustically-driven and very folk-rocky song about working on the railway but is none the worse for it. A bit of an “Astral Weeks” feel to it, in that “Cyprus Avenue” and “Ballerina” type of acoustic guitar sound.  “Call The Police” is probably the rockiest track on the album but with a slightly funky feel to it, funnily enough, rather similar in places to a track of the same name by Hot Chocolate from a year or so later. The title track is a lengthy, almost David Bowie-like lyrically adventurous mournful remembrance of Lynott’s childhood. It has slight hints of some of Bowie’s “Man Who Sold The World” and lengthier “Hunky Dory” material. Mix that with Lynott’s Western lyrical fascination, and you have a bit of a concoction. It is a bit rambling, to be honest.

The non-album single, “Whiskey In The Jar” and its ‘b’ side, “Black Boys On The Corner” are both excellent.

A certainly interesting album of a band in progress, but not essential.

C

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