REVIEW: Thin Lizzy – Thunder and Lightning (180 gram vinyl with bonus 12″)

THIN LIZZY – Thunder and Lightning (1983, 180 gram Back on Black reissue)

I love this album, it was actually the first Lizzy studio album I bought, on vinyl, from Tom’s store way back in the late 1990’s.  I’ve always loved John Sykes from his work in Whitesnake and Blue Murder.

Thunder and Lightning is the final Lizzy studio album.  It’s definitely the most metal, but it’s not the best sounding one (gimme Black Rose for that honour). It just strikes that chord inside. You know how certain albums just click with you and you don’t know why? That’s Thunder and Lightning for me, but I think it reminds me of that general vibe of heavy metal music in 1983.  There are times it reminds me of Judas Priest.

This is the only album from the Lynott/Gorham/Downey/Wharton/Sykes lineup.  It is produced by Chris Tsangarides (Anvil, Judas Priest). Wharton and Sykes both scored songwriting credits, which may be why this album sounds so much more “metal”.  Wharton’s keys are not obtrusive.

Best track:   Gorham and Lynott’s “Bad Habits”. If there was one track that sounded like old Lizzy circa Johnny The Fox, it’s “Bad Habits”. It’s just a rock and roller of a song with killer lyrics.  Phil’s voice is noticeably a lot more raw, worn, but he works within his limitations as always.  His voice remains as expressive as ever.  In “Bad Habits” he sounds like he’s jonesing as bad as the title implies.

“Cold Sweat” is the one that Sykes co-wrote, and it is very metal, featuring his trademark guitar squeals and yet more great lyrics from Lynott. “I got a whole month’s wages, I haven’t seen that much in ages, I might spend it in stages, and move out to Las Vegas.”  Love it.  Sung by Lynott, those lines tell a whole story.

IMG_00000235_editReally, there’s not a bad song on this album. “This Is The One” has some relentless pounding drums courtesy of Brian Downey (one of the true greats). “The Sun Goes Down” is a slower one with a keyboard solo, very atmospheric. It reminds me of the similarly titled “Night Comes Down” by Judas Priest. “Holy War” is another relentless pounder with a message to be heard. Not a bad track to be found.

If I had any complaints it would probably be the mix/production which at times comes across as a bit too bombastic and 80’s.  I mean, it’s still Thin Lizzy, one of the classiest sounding bands ever.  Thunder and Lightning is pretty evolved in sound from a classic like Jailbreak, and that may or may not be to your taste.

Some vinyl and cassette versions of Thunder and Lightning came with four bonus live tracks.  They are actually from the Renegade tour and feature Snowy White on guitar instead of his replacement John Sykes.  Thankfully, the current Back on Black 180 gram vinyl release restores the rare 12″ bonus EP.  The four songs are “Emerald”, “Killer on the Loose”, “The Boys are Back in Town”, and “Hollywood (Down on Your Luck)”.  These are great tracks.  It also has a gatefold sleeve with lyrics inside.  It’s a very nice package.

I’ve heard that 2013 will see the release of more Lizzy deluxe editions, including Thunder and Lightning.  If that’s the case I will pre-order it as soon as I hear about it.  There are still several B-sides from this period that are not currently available, such as “Angel of Death”, “Still in Love With You”, and “Don’t Believe a Word” live, and a remix of “The Sun Goes Down”.  I don’t have these tracks, but it sure would be nice to get everything on one deluxe CD package, wouldn’t it?  You guys paying attention, Universal?

5/5 stars

LIZZY

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19 comments

  1. Great album. I’ve got the original version with the bonus EP. I like the Back on Black reissues , I have quite a few of theirs but only on of the Lizzy ones (Live and Dangerous). Quite surprised you picked Bad Habits as the best song, that one never stood out for me. I’ll need to have another listen! I’d definitely want a deluxe of this album if it came out.

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        1. Black Star Riders is OK. It has a few songs that could have been Lizzy songs back in the day. I think it’s safe to say that BSR carry on the legacy.

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  2. Awesome album, but I don’t think it’s one of Lizzy’s best ones. I’m a bit surprised on the Bad Habits deal as well. It’s not bad by any means, but compared to stuff like the amazing Holy War, Baby Please Don’t Go (That solo!!!!), The Sun Goes Down or Heart Attack it barely floats. Also, I believe that Cold Sweat is overrated. Doesn’t sound like a Lizzy track to me, it has more in common with stuff like Bad Boys on Whitesnake’s 1987 album.
    Looking forward to the deluxe editions. I have a feeling I need to save up some cash for those.

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    1. Looks like I am the only Bad Habits lover! I didn’t expect that!

      I love the album. Something about being my first. It’s hard to beat that connection.

      Lizzy still have to do at least two more deluxes; this and Renegade for sure. I will happily buy both!

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    1. Cold Sweat is ok, but to me it doesn’t sound like a Lizzy song. It’s easy to tell that John Sykes wrote this. Sounds like a Sykes song with Lynott’s voice on it.

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  3. After reading this post, gave this whole album a concerted listen. It’s something I hadn’t really done before, instead having depended on the occasional shuffle landing to hear it a song at a time. I’d always seen it slagged off as an ok effort but not up to previous Thin Lizzy standards. What a mistake! Yeah, it is different than much of what came before it but that’s not a bad thing. Personally, I’m especially high on the title track, but I liked them all and it really holds together well as an LP for “album listening.” “Bad Habits” sounds like a Lynott-led Pat Travers track (i.e. a good thing made better).

    You never forget your first Lizzy. For what it is worth, mine was Johnny the Fox on 8-track: http://victimofthefury.com/2012/06/21/dont-believe-a-word-digging-the-skinny-lesbian/

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it. Even if one conceded that this isn’t as good as Jailbreak, Johnny, Bad Reputation, Black Rose,or any of those…it’s still better than most rock music of the era.

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      1. Word.
        But Thunder & Lightning IS an awesome album. The reason the album is drawn so much towards metal is that Phil Lynott was told too many times that Thin Lizzy wasn’t heavy enough and that’s why he wanted a hravier sound on this one, hence producer Chris Tsangarides and that John Sykes was given a lot of space.
        Philip Lynott is the biggest loss in the history of music!

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        1. Philip Lynott is probably the biggest loss in the sense that most people don’t know his genius. Even my mom knows Freddie Mercury was a genius, but she’s never heard of Lynott.

          He’s probably my favourite lyricist.

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        2. Mine too. And no matter how much I adore Kiss and Sweet, Thin Lizzy will always be my favourite band of all times. Well, Maybe Sweet and Thin Lizzy. And Kiss. Dammit… :-D

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        3. If I didn’t discover Thin Lizzy so much later in life (1999) then I think I could rank them in my top 3 too. But darn it, other bands got there first and are deeply lodged in my top 3, Kiss included.

          But it was one of those instant things. I was really into his lyrics, and after I found the Vagabonds Kings Warriors Angels box set, it was just a matter of getting ALL the albums next :)

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        4. Jon, I just listened to Black Rose again today. What a fantastic album! Not really a bad song in the bunch! I used to think S&M was the worst song, but I kind of dig its funk now.

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