And so here we are folks, the last review, and the last in a great run of rock albums. There’s much to be said for Black Rose: A Rock Legend, and many a Lizzy fan will surely wax lyrical as to whether this is the band’s peak, or the point where the band began to loose their way, or the many other things.
But most fans agree this is Lizzy’s last truly classic release, and with good reason. Aside from the consistently decent material and performances here, as the past four Lizzy albums also have, Black Rose features the return of studio wizard Tony Visconti for the final time, and the first and final time in which Gary Moore would play on a full Thin Lizzy album as an official member.
Thin Lizzy were always a tight band in everything they did, but rarely did production, songs and performances come together better on a Lizzy album than they do here. Gary Moore’s manic yet melodic shredding is in similar style to Robbo, but Gary takes it up a gear, which surprisingly compliments the more laidback style of Scott Gorham rather well.
Brian Downey’s drums sound volcanic, and Phil Lynott’s bass rattles in a thick, swelling manner, while his vocals lead the songs clearly and distinctly. And the songs are, as ever, stellar. The opening number fits well with the other more majestic numbers in Lizzy’s Soldier of Fortune, Dear Lord and Cowboy Song, but its still nothing to the title track, and epic seven-minute encapsulation of Celtic rock at its finest.
Its also on the title track’s solo that you wish Moore had stayed with the band for longer, its the most nimble and biting solo any guitarists in the band ever laid to tape (at least, that’s my opinion!). The remaining numbers are just as strong. Toughest Street in Town, Waiting for an Alibi, and Get Out of Here are excellent additions to Lizzy’s rock-block.
The only true ballad on here, Sarah, is a sweetly simple ode to Lynott’s then-newborn daughter of the same name, and features another scorching solo of Moore’s. S&M captures Lizzy at their nastiest, a jittering piece of funk-metal, The band clatter away behind Phil as he tells his tale of sordid explicatory, yet all done in that tasteful Irish manner of his. Which just leaves the minor-key, blues-flavoured Got to Give it Up, the album’s drug song. By now, it had become rather expectant of Lizzy to include a song about drugs on their album, Bad Reputation and Johnny the Fox each boasted one.
But here however, it becomes all the more autobiographical for Phil, whose drug use was escalating at this point. In fact, all throughout the album, Phil takes his lyrics into a far more introspective route than usual, Got to… and Black Rose being examples of this.
All these factors are given sublimely manic help by Visconti, whose work on Bad Reputation nearly pales compares to this. He give’s Black Rose even more character than it already has, making everything sounds crisp, fresh, and tight, as do the band themselves.
All together, this is a fabulous five-piece that made an excellent hard rock album, like most classic Lizzy albums, its one of the best hard rock albums ever produced (again, just an opinion, but one that’s justified!).
Sadly, this would be Lizzy’s last great statement for rock music. Three more studio albums would follow, all of varying degrees of success and quality, while Phil would eventually succumb to the demons he had sung about.
But he and the other band members still left us this, and Bad Reputation, Johnny the Fox, Jailbreak and Fighting. On a part with the great string of albums by The Stones, Zeppelin, and The Beatles, these five timeless records are perhaps the best example of what hard rock was all about, what it should be about, and what it will always be about.
And that’s that! Thin Lizzy’s classic years done and dusted! Thanks for joining me in this journey, it’s been super-fun. And I only mentioned Live and Dangerous once! Ha!