THIN LIZZY: Fighting (1975)

–THIN LIZZY: Fighting (1975)

“You’ve got to give a little love to those who love to live

You’ve got to take a little hate from those who have to wait”

The record may be entitled Fighting, but Irish hard rockers Thin Lizzy simply were spreading the love. Spreading love to the young and hopeful. Sending more love to those who are already lovers. Giving love to the oppressed, desperate or dissolute. But don’t mistake Thin Lizzy’s fifth and, in some ways, artistic breakthrough album as some sort of idealistic hippy trip. Thin Lizzy loved spreading a message of peace through rock, but they were also not afraid to fight for what they want. It’s this dichotomy that made Thin Lizzy the phenomenal and unique band that they were. Note: I say “were” because in no way do I consider this current Philip Lynott/Brian Downey-less version as a legitimate Thin Lizzy lineup. John Sykes and co. should be ashamed of themselves for misusing the hallowed Thin Lizzy name!

It’s funny how personal memories and sentimentality can affect how music touches an individual fan. Fighting is not, in my opinion, Thin Lizzy’s greatest album from a purely musical perspective. In fact, I’d consider most of its successors to be superior in terms of metallic power and consistency of songwriting. But Fighting is a record that struck a nerve at a particularly difficult time in my life, and for that reason it just may be my favorite of Thin Lizzy’s fourteen great albums. I recall buying the album on cassette in a Safeway bargain bin back in 1999 as my very first Thin Lizzy purchase. This traditional metalhead and college senior was looking for some new musical inspiration in a melancholy and lonely time. Fighting became my new best friend in my walkman, in my backpack, as I walked a mile from work to that sleazy Denver motel I lived in for six weeks. That tape’s inspirational message of perseverance and its gorgeous twin guitar harmonies helped pull me through to the light.

Given the album’s musical and lyrical power, I have a hunch Fighting has struck others in a similarly emotional way over 35 years. This was the second album to feature the guitar tandem of Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson and their trademark lead guitar harmonies, often of Celtic derivation. Unlike its diverse but uneven predecessor, 1974’s Nightlife, Fighting is a consistently hard-rocking platter even its tremendous peaks and shallow valleys. The dips are few, though the opening cover of Bob Seger’s “Rosalie” lolls along at a mid-tempo gait and barely hints at the hyper-melodious poetic sonic glory to come. “Silver Dollar” is another lazy number with a bit of a jazzy clean-guitar sound, but Lynott’s impassioned crooning “I’d bet a silver dollar/you love another” on the chorus more than redeems this diversion.

Then there’s the Mt. Everests of Fighting. Take the upbeat and infectious guitar harmonies in the introduction and chorus of “For Those Who Love to Live,” a singularly emotional bit of rough-n-tumble storytelling only Phil Lynott could write. Other tunes, such as the muscular duel guitar workout of “Suicide,” the anthem-like title track and the groovy funkish power of “Ballad of a Hard Man” sit squarely in the quality hard rock zone. “King’s Vengeance” features a subtly funky guitar riff before exploding into monstrous chords and melodies in the chorus, while “Spirit Slips Away” is a deliberately-paced and haunting ode to one’s last moments. Featuring a muscular chord progression and more jaw-droppingly beautiful guitar harmonies, “Freedom Song” is as inspirational as its title. But the album’s centerpiece, the mighty ode to the lonely, rambling dreamer in us all, “Wild One,” is as perfect as a hard rock ballad can get. With guitar harmonies so lush and soothing, Lynott delivers some of his most plaintive and soulful vocals on truly gorgeous piece of musical poetry. In fact, it’s useless to try to pick out poignant lyrical samples, so I’ll simply post them here for your enjoyment. This is my favorite song in Thin Lizzy’s extensively awesome catalog.

At once majestic, heavy, melancholy, melodic and soulful, Thin Lizzy’s amazing music is beyond description. So why try? Because it’s fun. But I’ll shut up now, and you go listen.–Jonathan Kollnot

–Tracklisting: 1.) Rosalie 2.) For Those Who Love to Live 3.) Suicide 4.) Wild One 5.) Fighting My Way Back 6.) King’s Vengeance 7.) Spirit Slips Away 8.) Silver Dollar 9.) Freedom Song 10.) Ballad of a Hard Man

“Wild one won’t you please come home
You’ve been away too long, will you
We need you home, we need you near
Come back wild one will you

How can we live without your love
You know that could kill you
How can we carry on
When you are gone my wild one

So you go your way wild one
I’ll try and follow
And if you change your mind
I will be waiting here for you tomorrow

For I would beg for you
I would steal and I would borrow
I’d do anything, anything at all
To end this sorrow

Wild one
The gypsies warned of the danger
You can laugh and joke with friends
But don’t you ever talk to strangers

Although their offers may be sweet
And I’d bet and I would wager
Away you’ll stray and never come back
To those who love and made you”

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~ by jonnyboyrocker on June 24, 2010.

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