Thin Lizzy's Rock Legends is a stunning tribute to the coolest band there ever was

Seven-disc box set from rock legends Thin Lizzy with all the hits and 74 – yes, 74 – previously unreleased tracks

Thin Lizzy: Rock Legends
(Image: © UMC)

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The bootlegs have been out there for years, YouTube clips too. Thin Lizzy recordings that were never officially released. Demos of classic songs, rough takes of other tracks that missed the cut for albums. Now, in this box set 10 years in the making, the best of this stuff is collected, along with some material never previously heard outside of the band’s inner circle. 

Thirty-four years after the death of Lizzy’s legendary frontman and leader Phil Lynott, this project has been co-curated by Scott Gorham, the guitarist who served alongside Lynott in Lizzy’s glory days of the 70s and has continued to steer the modern version of the band. 

“It’s taken a lot of detective work to track these recordings down so they can be restored,” Gorham says. And restoration is key to its success. With expert remixing of the original tapes, the audio quality is on a different level to all those shonky bootlegs and the results are at times stunning.

A demo of The Boys Are Back In Town, the most famous of all Thin Lizzy songs, is a revelation. An alternative take, with some different lyrics, was included in the 2001 deluxe edition of the Jailbreak album, but the version on Rock Legends adds fresh insight into the workings of the band. There’s a slightly looser feel in the performance, more ad-libbed lines from Lynott, and an extra minute of jamming in the outro, with sweet interplay between Gorham and Brian Robertson. It’s a song that’s been heard a million times, but never quite like this. 

Among those tracks omitted from Lizzy albums are some genuine lost treasures, most notably Weasel Rhapsody, a funky instrumental as badass as Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed.

Also previously unreleased and included here are 15 tracks recorded live on 1980’s Chinatown tour, including a great version of Lynott’s solo number Dear Miss Lonely Hearts

The first disc in this box is an anomaly, albeit a glorious one: essentially a greatest hits, running from Whiskey In The Jar, the soundtrack to countless drunken nights, to the elegiac finale The Sun Goes Down. And on the accompanying DVD, alongside a fine 2001 BBC documentary are performances filmed in 1976 for Rod Stewart’s TV special A Night On The Town, with the definitive line-up of Lizzy – Lynott, Gorham, Robertson and drummer Brian Downey – knocking out Jailbreak, Emerald, The Boys Are Back In Town and Rosalie, full of attitude and a sense of their own power. The coolest rock band there ever was.

Paul Elliott

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2005, Paul Elliott has worked for leading music titles since 1985, including Sounds, Kerrang!, MOJO and Q. He is the author of several books including the first biography of Guns N’ Roses and the autobiography of bodyguard-to-the-stars Danny Francis. He has written liner notes for classic album reissues by artists such as Def Leppard, Thin Lizzy and Kiss, and currently works as content editor for Total Guitar. He lives in Bath - of which David Coverdale recently said: “How very Roman of you!”