Eric Bell left Thin Lizzy in 1973, a year after their first hit, Whiskey In The Jar, and before the life could do him in.
Forty-odd years of low-key, jobbing blues guitar later, Exile (2016) belatedly announced him as a songwriter. It seems he’s got a taste for it. Bell’s amiable Elvis imitation on Mystery Train highlights his limitations. His own songs, though, are unusually direct and unvarnished. Changing Room uses Dylan’s Tangled Up In Blue rhythm and itchy country-funk guitar, as he finds himself dumped and selling secondhand clothes when the Lizzy money runs out. Reality is among several songs rooted in Irish folk, remembering a lover slashing her wrists before they ‘call it a day’. The ghosts of his old band’s great days are recalled repeatedly in prosaic yet evocative detail. The passage of time then haunts the title track, as Bell hopelessly feels ‘like going home’.