Thin Lizzy - Bad Reputation (Vinyl)

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Thin Lizzy were a brilliant rock band formed in Dublin, Ireland, in 1969. Two of the founding members, drummer Brian Downey and bass guitarist and lead vocalist Phil Lynott, met while still in school. Lynott led the group throughout their recording career of twelve studio albums, writing most of the material. The singles “Whiskey In The Jar” (a traditional Irish ballad) & “The Boys Are Back In Town” were international hits. After Lynott's death in 1986, various incarnations of the band emerged over the years based initially around guitarists Scott Gorham and John Sykes, though Sykes left the band in 2009. Gorham later continued with a new line-up including Downey. Lynott, Thin Lizzy's de facto leader, was composer or co-composer of almost all of the band's songs, and the first black Irishman to achieve commercial success in the field of rock music (or to play at Wembley!)

"Bad Reputation" is their eighth studio album, released in 1977. As the front cover suggests, most of the tracks feature only three-quarters of the band, with guitarist Brian Robertson only credited on three tracks. He had missed most of their previous tour, following a hand injury sustained in a brawl, and this album turned out to be his last studio effort with Thin Lizzy.
With Robertson out of the band, band leader Phil Lynott had decided that Scott Gorham would be able to handle all the guitar duties himself, and that no replacement for Robertson would be recruited prior to recording the album. However, Gorham believed that a second guitarist was required, particularly for live work, performing songs that were written for two guitars. He later said, "I was always a big believer in the magic circle – once you broke the magic circle, the whole thing was broken, right?" He deliberately left two songs ("Opium Trail" and "Killer Without a Cause") without guitar solos recorded, and persuaded Lynott to allow Robertson to return to the band to record the solos for them. Lynott relented, and Robertson flew to Toronto and recorded his lead guitar parts. However, he initially refused to socialise with the other band members: "Christ, I wouldn't even have a drink with them," he said. He later added, "I tried not to go out to clubs for about a week, then succumbed...” Robertson and Gorham shared lead guitar parts on only one song, "That Woman's Gonna Break Your Heart". "It was such an important album to us because of all the adversities that we'd been going through," recalled Gorham. "We had to pull this together or we were going to go down in a ball of flames.”
Lynott insisted that Robertson would not appear on the front cover, with which Robertson "agreed entirely", although he did appear in a group photograph on the back cover. Robertson later said, "This was another of my little moods. I didn't want my picture on the album cover because I hadn't done any of the backing tracks, and I was even in a bad mood shooting for the back of it."


The last album with Lizzy’s classic lineup of Lynott / Gorham / Robertson / Downey and it’s a scorcher. Despite the rising tensions between Robbo and…well, everyone else (they even left him off the cover!), BR doesn’t skimp on Lynott’s yarns of thugs, hoodlums, and heartbreak, guitars still firing on all cylinders.

Brian Robertson may not work and play well with others, but he can make a good song into great one. He only contributes to a few this time, but “Opium Trail” is one of their best, dark and metallic with Lynott's foreboding vocals swirling in and out of each ear and Robbo’s labyrinthine wah-workout dropping color all over. Same with “Killer Without a Cause” – it’s more of a proto-metal riff that doesn’t instantly translate to acoustic like earlier material. Fans of the live record will be familiar with the hooky campfire singalong “Southbound” and funky R&B vibe of “Dancing in the Moonlight”…that bassline…the way it all builds up to the solo and stops as Gorham takes off. Great stuff.

Of all my Lizzy albums, this one gets the most spins because of one song – “Downtown Sundown”. It’s a slow & sappy nugget with some of Lynott’s dumbest, back-of-a-napkin lyrics. But that solo is a spellbinder - Gorham delivering a dazzling, elegant masterpiece – speeding, wailing, bending and shaking those strings and dropping it back on the one perfectly. It’s a song, a solo that I’ve learned, forgotten, relearned and reforgotten countless times over the years. I heard an interview with Gorham a couple of years ago, and went into goosebump-fanboy mode thinking mainly about this song. I know – I need to get a life.

The lineup would make a major shift from here on out, but Bad Reputation deserves classic status, a great guitar record with all the trimmings, sporting a few of the band’s heaviest cuts to date.

By: dwightfryed

A1 Soldier Of Fortune
A2 Bad Reputation
A3 Opium Trail
A4 Southbound
B1 Dancing In The Moonlight
B2 Killer Without A Cause
B3 Downtown Sundown
B4 That Woman's Gonna Break Your Heart
B5 Dear Lord

2020 Reissue. Includes printed inner sleeve and download coupon.

This compilation ℗ 2014 Mercury Records Limited. © 2014 Mercury Records Limited. A Universal Music Group release. Made in the EU.