Sunday, December 1, 2019

Thin Lizzy: Them Wild-Eyed Boys

As seen in the hit movie Once, there's a statue of Phil Lynott, the mastermind behind Thin Lizzy, in downtown Dublin. I've heard Lynott described as the Irish Bruce Springsteen, as he spun out a string of hits in Ireland and personified that underdog Irish attitude.

For me, Lynott and Thin Lizzy are more like Status Quo, best known here in the States for the 1969 hit "Pictures of Matchstick Men." In their home nation of the United Kingdom, Status Quo stayed on the charts into the 1990s. If we were voting for the British Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Status Quo would already be in, and if we were voting for the Irish Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Thin Lizzy would be an easy yes. But we're not.

What Makes Them Different Phil Lynott's mother was a Dubliner, and his father was from British Guiana, allowing him to epitomize the postmodern Irish mutt. Lynott played bass and sang, and eventually enlisted two guitarists to support him in Thin Lizzy. That twin-guitar attack went on to be pretty influential, but it's not like they invented it, going back at least to "And Your Bird Can Sing."

That was the lineup that concocted "The Boys Are Back in Town," which went to No. 12 in the States in 1976 and has never really gone away. Rolling Stone put it at 499 on its list of the Greatest Singles of All Time, one spot ahead of "More Than a Feeling."

Thin Lizzy broke up in 1983, and Lynott died in 1986, of various diseases brought on by years of drug abuse. He was 36. The inevitable sporadic reunion tours and albums started up in 1996.

The BusBoys, an African-American rock & roll band from L.A., had an MTV hit in 1982 with their own song called "The Boys Are Back in Town," from the movie 48 HRS. I'm not sure what to make of that.

By the Numbers "The Boys Are Back in Town" was Thin Lizzy's only Top Forty hit in the U.S., but it's been heard in more than 20 movies and TV shows, including the Aubrey Plaza starrer Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. In their native Ireland, the band had seven Top Ten hits, with both "Boys" and "Whiskey in the Jar" going to Number One.

Will They Get In? Irish voters would definitely elect them. I don't think American voters will, but people sure do love "The Boys Are Back in Town."

Should They Get In? Let's face it: Thin Lizzy's American legacy consists of one song. It's a great song, but still. Hanson and the New Radicals and Beverly Bremer each recorded one great song, too. I vote NO for Thin Lizzy.

1 comment:

  1. I really appreciate this series you post every year.
    Thank you.