Album review: THIN LIZZY – Renegade & Thunder And Lightning

Thin Lizzy - Renegade

Universal [Release date 23.09.13]

Universal complete their remastering of the Thin Lizzy’s studio albums with Renegade and Thunder And Lightning. And while this period is often criticised for the direction changes (pop and metal) and performance, with production, line-up changes and drugs usually cited, there are some excellent tracks here and both albums are unfairly overlooked.

1981’s Renegade was the second to feature guitarist Snowy White and keyboard player Darren Wharton, and kicks off with the fantastic ‘Angel Of Death’, guitar and keyboard interplay, although the lyrics are very personal and almost morbid.

The title track is good but a tad disjointed, and ‘The Pressure Will Blow’ features some classic Lizzy sounding guitar. ‘Leave This Town’ has some bluesy guitar (a nod to ZZ Top), which sounds great yet somehow doesn’t quite work in the Lizzy camp.

‘Hollywood’ was a single and is slightly chunkier. ‘No-one Told Him’ and ‘Fats’ typify much of the album in being decent enough but lack identity.  ‘Mexican Blood’ tries to sound a little Mexican but comes over as just another rock track.

‘It’s Getting Dangerous’ closes what is actually quite a good album but it’s far from Thin Lizzy’s previously high standards. Even the non album single ‘Trouble Boys’ is a good track but so not Thin Lizzy. The release here is bolstered by some single and B-side bonus tracks.  ***

By 1983 John Sykes was in on guitar and between his work and Darren’s heavier influence we get Thunder And Lightning, with a heavier and more cohesive sound. Although many of the songs wre written before Sykes joined the band he made a serious impression with his playing.

The opening title track is thunderous and features some blistering guitar work. ‘This Is The One’ is another fantastic track; like the previous album it’s not classic Lizzy but it is far more solid as a band. ‘The Sun Goes Down’ is a gentler track, quite atmospheric (or at least as much as Thin Lizzy could get).

‘The Holy War’ is far more modern sounding but does feature some good guitar work and clean bright production. ‘Cold Sweat’ many will know, it’s one of Thin Lizzy’s heaviest ever tracks, and under the crunchy guitar riff it’s also very bass heavy. Some vocal harmonies on the chorus too, and the guitar work shows Syke’s NWoBHM and future Whitesnake influences.

Despite the heaviness of the album the keyboards play an important part. Overall an excellent album but this came 4 years after the last Classic Thin Lizzy set. The original LP came as a limited edition with a bonus live 12”, the tracks are included here along with other single, B-side and demo tracks, taking it to a 2CD.

By this period Thin Lizzy were a bit wayward, with the late Lynott’s solo career running in parallel. Thunder And Lightning was their last studio album – the live Life set followed as a farewell as the band split, but at least this last studio album meant they went out with a bang, not a whimper  ****

While Lizzy’s best era was the mid to late 70s, these two albums should not be overlooked or forgotten.

Review by Joe Geesin


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