Vertigo Records, 1975
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/07/1998
Most people know only one song or album from Irish rockers Thin Lizzy. If you ask them to name a song, they'll undoubtedly select "The Boys Are Back In Town"; if they say they own one of their albums, odds are it's Thin Lizzy's 1976 effort Jailbreak.
But Phil Lynott and crew proved time and time again that they were capable of rocking with the big boys, even if they weren't quite ready for superstardom. Exhibit "A": their 1975 release Fighting, which is just as entertaining an album as Jailbreak, even if it takes a few listens to really absorb everything about it.
This album was, in some ways, still an adjusting for the band. Guitarist Scott Gorham had just joined one album prior, and he still was fine-tuning the two-guitar attack with Brian Robertson into the sound that would make the band well-known. Brian Downey's drums were already at that next level, but Lynott, for some strange reason, decided to keep his bass work hidden in the mix. Maybe this has been corrected with CD technology, but Lynott's bass work would have been better had it been more in front of the music.
Of all the songs on Fighting, probably "Roaslie" is the one people know. A short love song, "Rosalie" showed the greatness the band had to offer while it demonstrated the need for the two-guitar attack to gel a little more. Fortunately, this weakness is quickly corrected in the album, as songs like "Suicide" and "Fighting My Way Back" both show how well Gorham and Robertson's guitars sounded when they blended together.
Lynott's storytelling qualities are evident throughout many of the tracks on Fighting. Songs like "King's Vengeance," "Freedom Song" and "Suicide" all paint vivid pictures in the listener's mind, helping the songs take more of a root in you. It is a technique that works, and works well.
There are one or two weak moments on Fighting. I, for one, didn't like the more experimental nature of "Ballad Of A Hard Man," a song that was anything but a ballad. It just didn't seem to fit with the overall mood of the album... though it probably would have fit well on some other album. The only other real negative is that you really have to pay attention to Fighting to be able to appreciate all its nuances. If you only give it a casual listen while you diddle away at the computer playing Pac-Man, then a lot of the special qualities of this album are going to be lost on you.
All that said, Fighting is not the easiest album to get through when you give it total brain power. Sure, it's a quick enough album, but there's just enough rust on the album to make it a more difficult listen. Still, it's an effort worth putting forth.
Why isn't Fighting considered a classic like Jailbreak is? Who knows? But, with the expected release of the Thin Lizzy box set later this year, maybe it will revive some interest in both this album and the band.