Live and Dangerous is a live double album by the Irish rock band Thin Lizzy, released in June 1978. It was recorded in London in 1976, and Philadelphia and Toronto in 1977, with further production in Paris. It was also the last Thin Lizzy album to feature guitarist Brian Robertson,[a] who left the band shortly after its release.
The band decided to release a live album after their producer Tony Visconti did not have enough time to work on a full studio session. They listened through various archive recordings from earlier tours and compiled the album from the best versions. Various studio overdubs were made to the live recordings during early 1978 in Paris; exactly how much of the album is overdubbed has been a contentious topic since its release. The album reached No. 2 in the UK album charts, ultimately selling over half a million copies. It has continued to attract critical acclaim and it has appeared in several lists of the greatest live albums of all time.
By the mid-1970s, Thin Lizzy had stabilised around founding members, lead singer and bassist Phil Lynott and drummer Brian Downey, alongside guitarists Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson. The band had found commercial success with several hit singles and developed a strong live following, including headlining the Reading Festival. Robertson had briefly left the band in 1977 but subsequently returned. The group had planned to make a new studio album at the start of 1978. Working with producer Tony Visconti, Thin Lizzy retained commercial success with the album Bad Reputation, and the group wanted to work with him again. However, Visconti had a very tight schedule and had committed to producing several albums for other artists, so Lynott suggested instead that they spend two weeks together compiling a live album from earlier recordings.
The band and Visconti listened to over 30 hours of archive recordings, looking for the best performances to release. The album sleeve notes credit two concerts as the source of the album – Hammersmith Odeon, London, England on 14 November 1976 (as part of the tour for Johnny the Fox, released earlier that year), and Seneca College Fieldhouse, Don Mills, Toronto, Ontario, Canada on 28 October 1977 (as part of the tour for Bad Reputation). Visconti later revealed that shows at the Tower Theater, Philadelphia on 20 and 21 October 1977, a week earlier than the Toronto gig, had also been recorded. The band had listened back to the Hammersmith tapes shortly after recording and agreed that the performances sounded better than the studio versions. Thin Lizzy biographer Mark Putterford believes the majority of recordings on the finished album are from the Hammersmith show. Visconti later said the performance of "Southbound" came from a soundcheck before one of the Philadelphia gigs, with the audience reaction dubbed in from another song.
On this album, the band segues immediately from "Cowboy Song" into "The Boys Are Back in Town", on the line "a cowboy's life is the life for me" – the last chord of the former was the first of the latter, although their studio versions were recorded as separate songs. This segue between the two tracks remained a staple of the band's setlist for the rest of their career, and examples can be found on other live releases. The band had rearranged "Still in Love with You" to be slower and more emotional than the original studio version, and the version recorded on Live and Dangerous was considered by Putterford to be the highlight of Lynott's musical career.
To promote the album, the group filmed a gig at the Rainbow Theatre, London on 29 March 1978 for a television broadcast. However, this was cancelled and the footage went unaired.
It’s the great debate amongst live album fans - is it “cheating” to tidy up live recordings in the studio before release? I ask because it’s known that as much as 25% of this album is overdubs. Secondly, it’s not a particular concert or particular tour, being compiled from various shows from ‘76-‘78. Therefore it’s been argued that this isn’t a “real” live album. My answer? Who fucking cares, it sounds great. The production and mixing, courtesy of the great Tony Visconti, fool my ears and that’s all that matters. The opening performance of Jailbreak is a bit perfunctory but things improve immediately with the face-melting guitar finale of Emerald followed by the smooth, classy Southbound. It’s interesting to note that despite Lizzy’s hard rock appeal, some of the best tracks are the more laidback ones such as the foot tapping, gentle bounce of Dancing In The Moonlight and a gorgeous, unhurried rendition of Still In Love With You. These numbers benefit by exploring some different textures - a lot of the rocking numbers, while never less than competent, start to blend together across 76 minutes. Phil Lynnot’s voice is a perfect balance of toughness and emotion, while his bass playing is top notch and placed just right in the mix so that it’s perfectly audible and makes both a melodic and rhythmic contribution without being too obtrusive. But it’s the twin lead assault from Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson that really makes this air guitar heaven, the two of them knowing just when to ramp it up and when to hang back and let the song breathe. I don’t rate it quite as highly as others - it eats Made In Japan’s dust in my opinion - but Live And Dangerous is still an above average and highly enjoyable live record of a great band.
Jailbreak Emerald Southbound Rosalie / Cowgirl's Song
Dancing In The Moonlight (It's Caught Me In Its Spotlight) Massacre Still In Love With You Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed
Cowboy Song The Boys Are Back In Town Don't Believe A Word Warrior Are You Ready