It's been a long time since I've posted last. Over a month in fact. Not an incredibly good precedent to start. It's not that I wasn't writing; I was writing nonstop. The problem was nothing was popping. Nothing was flooring me. I couldn't get excited about anything I was writing. It wasn't the subjects. Trust me, they are all worthy of one of my little essay/blogs (not exactly sure just how worthy my little essay/blogs are of them though). It was the writing. The tunes were doing the job on their end, I wasn't coming through on mine. Looking over 4 blogs started and not finished, what I reread sounded lifeless and worthless. I couldn't seem to put down on paper the ideas that had bounced around in my brain so many times. It was a translation problem. But With Christmas fast approaching, and familial obligations taking me out of town for over a week, I decided to put the blog on the back-burner.
It was a good thing that I did it too, because without Christmas, there's a good chance 19 Sank While 6 Would Swim may just have been trashed altogether for lack of motivation and material. Instead, I got lucky. Christmas morning came, and in true Brandon fashion, I had a very "11 year old" style Christmas. All I asked for were records...glorious, beautiful, 12", shiny, glistening vinyl. I opened my gifts on that oh so holy of days with the kind of fervor and excitement that should be reserved for actual children, not those who simply act like them, but I couldn't help it. Album after album wowed me. The Flaming Lips' Hear It Is, Metallica's Master of Puppets, Wilco's Being There, along with so many others...they were all great, but when I opened Thin Lizzy's Black Rose, I found myself unable to think about anything else.
This seems funny to me, although I guess it really shouldn't, because I love Thin Lizzy. And Thin Lizzy is a band that has been wildly underrated in the pantheon of great Rock N' Roll music. Oh, critics adore them, and they certainly have had at least a few moderate nods from musicians over the last 25 years, but when it comes to contemporary record buyers, after having heard "The Boys are Back in Town" from 1976's classic Jailbreak, Thin Lizzy fades into that dark recess of the mind where things go to be forgotten. Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Rush, Alice Cooper, these are all names synonymous with great 70's rock, even if they don't always deserve to be, and that's just naming a few. But somehow, Thin Lizzy's name seems to be at best a footnote in the book of great 70's rock. And that is an absolute shame. Nonetheless, had you asked me before Christmas what album I was most looking forward to getting, Black Rose would not have been my answer. But when I saw that blueish-black rose dripping blood on the cover in it's full 12" glory, instantly there was nothing else I wanted to listen to more.
The album opens in full, bombastic Thin Lizzy fashion; low, humming, hypnotic bass coupled with equally thunderous drums. In less than 15 seconds, the patented duel guitar wail explodes and instantly sends you into 70's Rock heaven. This record is a mile a minute rocker (well, at least until you get to the ballad, "Sarah". Phil Lynott wrote for his daughter, but it is a minor and enjoyable diversion). Black Rose sounds as "Thin Lizzy" as it gets. This is a pure, unadulterated Rock N' Roll record.
I'll be honest, it's hard for me to verbalize my reasons for loving this record. As a big "Lizzy" fan, the sound isn't describable, it's inherent. You only have to hear this album to know why it's amazing. This is real life, no-holds-barred "Fuckin' A" Rock N' Roll. The grooves, the grinds, the lyrics, Phil's always impeccable delivery, there's nothing other than straight, sensitive, tough, sincere Rock music here. You get kicked in the teeth from note one, and there is no respite until the close of the record. It is as purely unbelievable and as incredible as any of the Zeppelin or Sabbath records that we all (or many of us) cherish so much.
I could probably go on. I could talk about Phil Lynott's importance to music as a whole (and it is immense, believe me). I could talk about Thin Lizzy's approach to guitar playing, the currently cliche muscle of the duel axe assault (of course, for them it was ridiculously unique...they fucking invented it for Christ's sake), only topped by Lynott's on-spot, brilliant vocals and driving, back-bone bass playing. I could talk about Phil as a lyricist and a poet in a much greater depth, understanding Joyce and Rimbaud with the insight and expertise of a scholar, but ultimately being the spokesman of the working man. And then there's the way Phil sang; the cadence unbelievable, the voice, honest and real. You believe ever word he says, not because he's simply sounds "convincing", but because you can hear he lived ever word he sang, and every note he hit is a result of that experience.
Maybe Thin Lizzy never had the intensity of Black Sabbath or the mysticism and bravado of Led Zeppelin; maybe they didn't have the complexity of Rush or the unearthliness of E.L.O., but where they lacked in all of these areas, they made up for in honesty. Thin Lizzy was a band that made sense and kicked ass while they did it, and Black Rose is the exemplification of that. But frankly, none of that matters unless you're willing to go out and get this album. I could detail every idea and feeling I've had while listening to this record, but all of those details amount to a lump of shit unless you're willing to take my advice and listen to this record. Certainly, you'd be doing a solid to the legacy of Thin Lizzy by really delving into this one, and you'd be doing me a serious favor by seriously listening to it, but in the end, you are the only one who is going to really benefit. This is a record worth more than it's weight in gold, but you'll only know that if you choose to check it out.