Live And Dangerous
Searchlight On The Future. View From The Rear: Brian Downey. Occasional Angles: Phil Lynott. In the middle: Niall Stokes
Niall Stokes, 21 Jul 1978
On the surface, it might seem that Thin Lizzy could have their eyes and hearts and minds on only one thing - the present. For a start they've just delivered what's commonly regarded as their definitive recorded statement in the brilliant Live And Dangerous double album set. Not only that, but the critical acclaim which greeted the work has been more than borne out by the immediate and, so far, sustained commercial success it's achieved.
Live And Dangerous has been in the top three in Britain - and don't forget we're talking about a double album - for the six weeks since its initial showing, being denied the number one spot only by the sales-monster of the decade Saturday Night Fever; it's never easy to compete against an album that's got a film to market it and, what's more, a craze. And still Lizzy are in there with a chance.
The same indeed is the case in Ireland, with extremely healthy figures to date suggesting that in the long run it can outsell their biggest money spinner so far, Jailbreak. Again, they've been No. 2 in the Hot Press charts for a month with only (guess who?) the Stigwood gang holding them out.
On the live front, there was the successful negotiation of the Wembley Empire Pool hurdle, with two packed houses there finally establishing the band, with no remaining grounds for reasonable dispute or logical argument to the contrary, among the Major League as regards drawing power.
With that kind of momentum built up and an American tour imminent - almost certainly with the fresh promotional thrust of a new label, Warner Bros. behind them - there would seem to be little room for pausing, taking a breath or making any other nod in the direction of self-analysis.
And yet, amid all this high-powered achievement, that's precisely what's happening within Thin Lizzy. The rationale, of course, is simple. Stagnation kills. The way to ensure survival on a creative level is to keep one step ahead of the play, to realise when you've been doing material long enough, to anticipate and therefore forestall the point at which it begins to fossilise right there in front of everyone on stage.
That hasn't happened with Lizzy, nor is it likely to, because they've been putting their collective brain to work on the problem in time. They ve been doing largely the same set for about two years now - which is why Live And Dangerous ideally represents a watershed for the band - and now they're ready to move on.
Where to? That's the question.
Phil Lynott has already gone on record as saying that he sees the group concentrating even more exclusively on the harder, rockier aspect of their personality. Lynott the romantic will be put on ice, more or less, for group purposes - only to be given freer rein in the shape of Phil Lynott, solo artist.