Classic Rock Corner

Eyeballin': Are You Ready for Thin Lizzy's Are You Ready?

Classic Rock Bob has long sung the praises of Thin Lizzy as an extremely underrated band whose catalogue is full of sonic riches well beyond "The Boys are Back in Town." But by the time this full-length concert was shot for the German TV show Rockpalast in 1981 around the time of the Renegade LP, Lizzy was undeniably a band in decline.

Ballsy guitarist Brian "Robbo" Robertson had been replaced with the technically proficient but uninspiring Snowy White. A teenage Darren Wharton had been added on keyboards. And most notably, singer/bassist Phil Lynott and guitarist Scott Gorham were battling their own substance addictions, which affected their stage work (Lynott is heavy-lidded and sings in a lower register for portions of this show). Only drummer Brian Downey is full of fire, piss, and vinegar here.

Still, while Are You Ready? is not peak Thin Lizzy à la the Live and Dangerous DVD - a good half of the show seems simply phoned in - it's still a generous show of 19 songs and an unearthed treasure, if just for fans. And there are frequent flashes of brilliance on numbers like "Don't Believe a Word," "Cowboy Song," and the rollicking "Emerald."

Interestingly, the best numbers here are some of the least known or (at the time) newer entries in the band's catalogue like "Genocide," "Hollywood," "Sugar Blues," and "Chinatown" - the last two featuring ripping Gorham solos where he finally comes alive.

Lynott would die in early 1986 as the inevitable result of his drug problems (which he makes light of for the German audience here in "Got to Give It Up"), but it's still eerie to see him five years earlier singing "It serves me right to suffer/ It serves me right to be alone" on the bluesy "Memory Pain," with more than a glint of recognition in his eye.

Eagle Vision, 112 mins., $11.98.

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero