Thin Lizzy - Vagabonds of the Western World LP
(Decca, 1973 - Future Days, 2015)
“As much as classic-rock radio purports to be the last bastion of Real Music, the format is, of course, just as formulaic, repetitive, and popularity-driven as any Top 40 station. Classic-rock radio doesn’t honor veteran bands’ legacies; it contracts and distorts them, reducing diverse multi-decade careers to one or two focus tracks. And because of this, a lot of people have been raised to believe that Thin Lizzy were a hard-rock band, thanks to the only two songs of theirs you’ve been liable to hear on a North American terrestrial rock station over the past 30 years. But as the missing link between Van Morrison and Van Halen, the Irish outfit were really a sensitive soul band who rocked hard as a defense mechanism, shielding the late Phil Lynott’s sad-eyed, streetwise narratives in a molten, harmonic twin-guitar attack that anticipated heavy metal without ever fully hardening into it. And while Lizzy’s sharp-angled logo fit in right next to the KISS and AC/DC patches on your older brother’s denim jacket, Lynott was the rare arena-rocker who wasn’t shrieking to hit the cheap seats—he was singing about the sort of poor bastards stuck in them.
That underdog mentality has made Thin Lizzy perhaps the only band of chest-baring, leather-panted '70s rockers to be unironically embraced in the more humble environs of indie rock, having been namedropped in song by Belle and Sebastian and the Hold Steady, covered by the Mountain Goats, and lovingly imitated by Ted Leo. And the band’s eclectic palette of formative influences, not to mention their unique socio-political dynamic (with a half-black frontman, and members from both sides of Ireland’s Catholic/Protestant divide) go a long way in explaining why their early Decca Records catalogue is currently being reissued on vinyl by the astute historical preservationists at Light In the Attic, as opposed to some major-label bargain-bin CD run.” - Stuart Berman for Pitchfork