Thin Lizzy: Dangerous as ever

As many a classic-rock buff will attest to, Thin Lizzy’s classic 1978 release, Live And Dangerous, is one of the greatest concert releases of all time.

With a grade-A set list and top performances, the set captures all the fire of the classic Phil Lynott-Scott Gorham-Brian Robertson-Brian Downey lineup. Recently, a follow-up of sorts was issued via VH1 Classic Records, Still Dangerous, a set recorded at Philadelphia’s Tower Theatre Oct. 20, 1977. Although it contains fewer songs than Live And Dangerous, Still Dangerous is even more raw, and hence, rocks harder.

Interestingly, the tapes of this show were all but forgotten over the years, as longtime Lizzy guitarist Scott Gorham recently explained.

 “It came about really through, of all people, accountants. They were trying to figure out why we were paying certain bills. Two items that kept coming up — that we were paying for month after month, year after year — were these two lock-ups. We had no idea what was in there — it could have been old equipment or Phil’s leather couch! So we sent somebody down there to open these things up. And what we found was a huge mountain of multi-track recording tape. So I went there to look at it myself and I couldn’t believe the volume of stuff that was in there.”

What they had found was a treasure trove of material.

“There were boxes, and one had written on it ‘Philadelphia 2,’” says Gorham. “I remember doing Philadelphia for the ‘King Biscuit Flower Hour,’ but what was the ‘2’ all about? So I called one of our old managers, and he reminded me that we had done two nights at the ‘King Biscuit Flower Hour.’ We had requested two nights because this was a two-week warm-up period we were going on that was going to precede this three-month arena tour. You can hear on the album what we were doing was road-testing these new songs that we had just recorded for the Bad Reputation album.”

With explosive readings of such Lizzy classics as “Jailbreak,” “Cowboy Song,” “Don’t Believe A Word,” and, of course, “The Boys are Back in Town,” Still Dangerous also features songs that did not appear on Live And Dangerous, including the album-opening “Soldier of Fortune,” as well as “Opium Trail,” and the longtime set-closer, “Me and the Boys” (the latter of which never appeared on a studio album).

Also available is a vinyl version that includes a 45 that features two tracks not available on the CD, “Bad Reputation” and “Emerald” (these two non-CD tracks are also available through iTunes). Does Gorham feel this was Lizzy at their in-concert peak?

“I think we had a few more ‘peaks’ left in us after that [laughs],” he says. “I think that was a good period. Other people have preferences, but I always preferred playing with Robo. For us, that was a really creative period. Brian and I together started our dual-guitar harmony thing together. Everybody after that kind of knew there was a guide that they had to adhere to.”

Although it’s tough to declare which of the two aforementioned Lizzy live albums takes top prize, Gorham offered his pick.

“Sometimes I have to watch myself [with this question], because I know how near and dear the Live And Dangerous album is to a lot of people. But I think that the Still Dangerous album is a better album. The playing is probably a little better, and the production is definitely better, with Glyn Johns. If it’s not better than Live And Dangerous, then it certainly stands up shoulder-to-shoulder next to it.”

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