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The melancholy tear in Phil Lynott's rich voice sets Thin Lizzy far apart from the braying mid-'70s metal pack. Projecting a dissolute sensitivity above dueling lead guitars, this black-Irish bass player chiseled out a distinct, lyrical hard-rock niche for his band. Thin Lizzy's only hit album, Jailbreak, is also its only consistent one. "The Boys Are Back in Town," a lingering hit single in 1976, set the tone: celebratory riffs cut by bittersweet reflection. Though Lynott gets caught up in macho adventures like Jailbreak's definitive "Cowboy Song," the band's spacious arrangements and propulsive rhythms usually carry him forward. Thin Lizzy's discipline and drive are in evidence on Live and Dangerous, though filler sinks most of the Mercury albums (as well as the other, out-of-print Warner Bros. albums). Perhaps Thin Lizzy was overtaxed by clockwork recording schedules; the seamless best-of compilation Dedication successfully taps each stage of the band's bumpy decade-plus career, serving Thin Lizzy's memory well. Those seeking full immersion have no choice but to shell out for the import box set Vagabonds Kings Warriors Angels. Lynott succumbed to a drug overdose in 1986; by all means avoid One Night Only and Extended Versions, which feature entirely new lineups of the band. -- (MARK COLEMAN/BUD SCOPPA)

From the 2004 The New Rolling Stone Album Guide

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