Monday, 30 September 2019

Thin Lizzy - Chinatown (1980)

There's a killer on the loose....

  

Released on 10 October 1980

Running time 41.02

Thin Lizzy continued into the eighties to put out albums oblivious to current musical trends. Despite punk, new wave, ska, new romantic, whatever, their brand of solid, guitar-driven, melodious but powerful Celtic-flavoured rock still held an appeal for many. The album introduced Snowy White on guitar to replace Gary Moore and on keyboards was seventeen year-old Darren Wharton joined on keyboards.

Personally, although many disagree, I find this just as strong an album as its much-vaunted predecessor, Black Rose. You knew what you were going to get from Lizzy and this collection of songs still delivered.

TRACK LISTING

1. We Will Be Strong
2. Chinatown
3. Sweetheart
4. Sugar Blues
5. Killer On The Loose
6. Having A Good Time
7. Genocide
8. Didn't I
9. Hey You                                                      
We Will Be Strong is a chugging but attractive mid-pace rocker that grows on you. It has a full, warm sound and a reassuring vocal from Phil Lynott. Snowy White contributes some impressive guitar. Chinatown has always been a favourite of mine - solidly heavy and menacing in an urban way. The bass is deep and resonant and the drum/guitar interplay excellent, as always. Changing guitarists did not seem to affect the quality of the music. Some critics have said that the standard had dropped but I have to say I don't agree - Lynott, Scott Gorham and Brian Downey are still there and White could clearly play. I think this was still a good album.

Sweetheart packs a big punch as it launches into its typical Lizzy sound. Material like this is the equal of the stuff on Black Rose, for me, anyway. Sugar Blues is a rhythmic, infectious and catchy riffy number. It is deliciously strong and bassy and features some great rolling drums from Downey. There is a nice bass solo from Lynott too. Some have said that his and Gorham's increased drug use affected the album, but I don't hear it here.


Killer On The Loose was the album's hit single and is a suitably rocking piece of rock with pop sensibilities. Its pace is fast - it doesn't let up from beginning to end and has a punky energy about it which probably helped it do well at the time. Seeing that Lizzy had influenced The Boomtown Rats so much for years, Having A Good Time returned the favour and has a lot of 1978-79 era Rats about it. It is another upbeat, appealing rock song as well. Some have condemned the second half of the album as being "filler". This energetic, enjoyable rocker hardly sounds like filler to me.

Lynott revisits one of his favourite subjects on Genocide - the decline of the old US West - as he bemoans the "killing of the buffalo..". Once more, its solid rock credentials can't be questioned. Didn't I slows the pace down slightly on an archetypal Lizzy rock ballad with tuneful guitars, powerful drums and a warmly sensual Lynott vocal. The deep bass line on this is sublime as well. Hey You starts off like The Police's Walking On The Moon before pretty soon reverting to a familiar Lizzy rock sound. The Police bit returns later on, however, before the rock chorus blasts back.

This was certainly not a bad album in my eyes (or ears). The sound quality is good and the songs are all more than listenable.

B-