Still Dangerous

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Once upon a time long ago, it was against punk rock rules to like Irish rockers Thin Lizzy. Then it became all indie irono-rawk to pretend to like Thin Lizzy. Now, because rock 'n' roll history is but a postmodernistic muddle of context-free sound files and revised histories, and since suburban teenagers forming garage bands are now hip to worthy classic rock because, apparently, swell songcraft lasts, it's cool to dig the Lizzy again. Good deal!

Here's why this album smokes: It's remixed from recently unearthed multi-track recordings of the Irish-Scottish quartet's '77 "Bad Reputation" tour stop at Philly's Tower Theater, so it's Lizzy's best lineup — led by Afroed bassist Phil Lynott (pre-heroin damage) with guitarists' Scott Gorham, Brian Robertson and drummer Brian Downey. It shows a band at its performance peak and how aced-out, junk-riffed rock 'n' roll played in-pocket with all melody intact — in under-four-minute blasts and ballsy balladry — can still be a force.

The hits ("Jailbreak," "Boys Are Back in Town," etc.) light up; the left-right guitars and pert pickslides are relentless, drums careen straight down the middle of your skull and Lynott's patented enunciations ("Chiiiiineeese conecct-shun") sting like needle pokes. Like a proper live rock 'n' roll show, there's the impulsive gestures such as sour guitar notes (the ear-twister on "Cowboy Song" is lovely).

Golden-eared producer Glyn Johns (Stones, Beatles, Who, Faces) handled the 10-song mix chores and the results smack senses like heavyweight '70s vinyl — good, old-fashioned mixing unmarred by modern "effects" touches or maximized mastering; and no overdubs — unlike Lizzy's double-platinum Live and Dangerous, which, following that album's studio "touch-ups," only had live drums. At just 10 songs, Still Dangerous ends too quickly, but it ignites faster than a lighter against a feather-haired head at a '70s arena rock show.

Brian Smith is the features editor of Metro Times. Send comments to bsmith@metrotimes.com.

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