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Thin Lizzy: Reissues

Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell reappraises three classics from rock's golden age...and reckons every rock fan needs them

Thin Lizzy have been a huge influence on both myself and Def Leppard. For me, the guitarists they had in the band were so inspirational. And to have had the chance to play with them [as part of a touring line-up] was so thrilling. Playing all those amazing songs was a privilege.

I first heard Lizzy when they did Whiskey In The Jar on Top Of The Pops. Not that I really knew who they were – I was just 11 years old at the time.

It was some while later that I really got into them. That was when _Johnny The Fox _came out, and it’s still among my favourite Lizzy studio albums. Which brings me neatly to Bad Reputation.

I’d put this just behind_ Jailbreak, _which I still think is the band’s best album. I liked Bad Reputation when it first came out, and this has retained the impact. The one disappointment for me is that Brian Robertson only played on three tracks here. His style was a lot more raw and edgy than Scott Gorham’s

What lets this reissue down are the bonus tracks. There are just so few of them, and they’re tacked onto the end of the original album – although I have to admit that it’s good to hear a soundcheck version of Me And The Boys. If you’ve already got Bad Reputation, then it’s hard to believe you’d want to get this. Only real anoraks will want the extra tracks here. Of course, if you’ve not got a copy, then you must get it immediately.

_Black Rose: A Rock Legend was a big Lizzy album for me, if only because it’s got Gary Moore on it, and he’s a big hero of mine. In fact, this is the one Lizzy album where he appears all the way through. So, that’s reason enough to love it. The songs here are so good that you get completely lost inside them. Black Rose_ itself is just so epic, while Waiting For An Alibi is the consummate Lizzy pop song. You can’t fail to be moved by the music here.

There are also so many bonus tracks that they all come on a bonus CD. The alternative version of Black Rose itself is interesting, because it’s got Huey Lewis on harmonica. Now, that’s where I draw the line. The original doesn’t have any harmonica on at all, and there’s no need for any to be added. It’s so wrong. I really can’t think what was going through the band’s mind at the time.

But the real gem among the bonus tracks, for me, is Toughest Street In Town, because it’s got different lyrics. If you compare the version here to the one on the album, then you can hear the way Phil Lynott worked, and the manner in which a song was developed. It’s a fascinating insight for any fan. I’d say that there’s so much extra here that even if you’ve already got Black Rose, then this is still worth getting.

Finally, to _Chinatown, _which has always been something of a problematic record for me. You see, Gary Moore had gone, and Snowy White was in. No disrespect to Snowy, who’s a fine guitarist – but he’s not Gary. As an aside, when Snowy left after the _Renegade _album, I was hoping to replace him in Lizzy. But they chose John Sykes instead. Oh well…

So, Chinatown. No-one can doubt that it’s got a few great songs. For me, the ones which work best are the title track and Killer On The Loose. Now, I didn’t totally enjoy this when it first came out, but this new version is a lot better, mainly because of the bonus CD with all the extra tracks. The live versions of _Are You Ready? _[in Dublin) and Whiskey In The Jar [from Cork], both from 1980, are tremendous, and it’s also good to be able to listen to some soundcheck recordings as well. It all makes _Chinatown _a lot more interesting than I’ve found it in the past. Therefore, I’ve no hesitation in recommending every Lizzy fan to go out and get a copy of this.

Overall, I’d say these reissues have expanded the Thin Lizzy legend, and that’s fine by me.

*This review originally appeared in Classic Rock issue 162. _Black Rose: A Rock Legend _was first released on April 13, 1978.