7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 24 October 2010
My personal favourite of all the Lizzy recordings successfully blends Phil's early foray into folk myth and lyricism with Eric Bell's stinging stratocaster, Brian Downey's superb drumming (he's vastly under-rated) and of course Phil's playboy gypsy swagger and wonderful Rickenbacker tone and inventiveness. Their early promise was fulfilled on 'Vagabonds' before they went off in a new direction to mega stardom.
Although you can't help loving everything the great Phil Lynott did, I feel Thin Lizzy lost an essential element of their sound and appeal when they adopted the twin guitar line-up that took them to a wider audience. Perhaps Lynott couldn't afford to be so indulgent again; once he found the formula - he stuck to it, and you can't argue with that. I suspect too that he could exert more control over the band once Eric Bell left, as although he was and is a fabulous and inspired player, you always get the sense with Eric that he needed reining in. When he keeps his playing tight and concise, as he mostly does on this album, he is a beautifully gifted player with a touch and feel like Clapton's, and his contribution to the success of this record is as great as Lynott's.
Of the tracks on the original album, perhaps the opening Mama Nature Said sounds the most dated and it was always perhaps the weakest inclusion; but it's held up by what comes after. I always loved The Hero and the Madman, and although Tolkienesque wizardry and quest legend usually leave me cold; the inventive telling, playing and structure of the track really shines. There is some lovely bass playing and drumming and the outro solo by Eric is breathtaking in its attack and lyricism; perfectly complimenting and rounding out Lynott's wholly original composition. Slow Blues would be pretty standard blues noodling but Bell's touch and tone is unsurpassed here and every note counts in a masterclass of blues guitar. Enough has been said about the album's highlight and Thin Lizzy's finest moment, The Rocker; and on Little Girl In Bloom and Song For While I'm Away we have two of Lynott's most tender lovesongs. The latter is how I sometimes remember him by and it's a great Irish homecoming song.
The bonus tracks make the whole package a treasure-house for Thin Lizzy fans and a reminder of why John Peel and Kid Jensen loved these lads back when we were young.
59 of 62 people found the following review helpful
To my knowledge this troubled 'DELUXE EDITION' on Decca 984 194-9 (Barcode 602498419496) has had no less than 7 release dates - May, July and November of 2007 were first cited, then January, February and April of 2008 - and now it finally arrives Monday 18 October 2010 without the tiniest bit of fanfare. It has a 2007 Copyright date on the rear so it's effectively been delayed three and a half years. But has it been worth the wait - yes absolutely. But to the considerable details first...
Disc 1 (77:52 minutes):
1. Mama Nature Said
2. The Hero And The Madman
3. Slow Blues
4. The Rocker
5. Vagabond Of The Western World
6. Little Girl In Bloom
7. Gonna Creep Up On You
8. A Song For While I'm Away
Tracks 1 to 8 are their 3rd album "Vagabonds Of The Western World" released 21 September 1973 in the UK on Decca SKL 5170.
(It was released as London XPS 636 in the USA, but contained a very-slightly edited version of "Little Girl In Bloom"; it's the full UK version that is used here)
Tracks 9 and 10 are their 2nd UK 7" single from May 1973, "Randolph's Tango" and "Broken Dreams". Both tracks on Decca F 13402 were non-album at the time.
(Note: the version of "Randolph's Tango" that is used here is known as the 'Full Version' at 3:49 minutes - the promo-only 7" edit at 2:25 minutes is Track 17)
Tracks 11 and 12 are their 3rd UK 7" single and the first to feature a track off the album. "The Rocker" was issued as a 7" single in the UK in November 1973 on Decca F 13467 and is an edited version (2:41 as opposed to the album's 5:12 minutes). It was backed with another non-album Phil Lynott track, the jaunty "Here I Go Again".
Track 13, "Cruising In The Lizzymobile" is non-album also. It's correct title is "A Ride In The Lizzy Mobile" and is a genuine Thin Lizzy vinyl rarity as it was only ever issued on the B-side of the 7" GERMAN release of "The Rocker". Its CD debut first came on the "Vagabonds Kings Warriors Angels " 4CD box set in 2001. Its rare picture sleeve is reproduced in the booklet.
Tracks 14 and 15 are from the GARY MOORE period of Thin Lizzy. "Little Darling" (14) (featuring superb brass arrangements by Fiachra French) was originally issued 11 April 1974 in the UK as a 7" SINGLE-ONLY release on Decca F 13574 (it's B-side "Buffalo Girl" is on the 2010 remaster of "Shades Of A Blue Orphanage"). "Sitamoia" (15) first turned up in August 1976 as an exclusive track on the compilation LP "Remembering Part 1" on Decca SKL 5249 and was also later issued on a UK 3-track 7" EP in January 1978 on Decca F 13748.
Track 16 is the 'December 1977 Overdubbed & Remixed Version' of "Slow Blues" which features Gary Moore on Guitar and Keyboards (it's released for the first time on CD here - see PS below).
Tracks 17 and 18 are the UK 'Radio Promotional Edited Versions' of "Randolph's Tango" (2:25 minutes) and "Whisky In The Jar" (3:43 minutes)
[Note: "Whisky In The Jar" and its non-album B-side "Black Boys On The Corner" are on the 2010 CD remaster of "Shades Of A Blue Orphanage"].
Disc 2 (64:02 minutes):
1. The Rocker
2. Things Aren't Working Out Down At The Farm
3. Slow Blues
4. Gonna Creep Up On You
Tracks 1 to 5 are a "BBC Radio 1 In Concert" (recorded live 26 July 1973 at the Golders Green Hippodrome in London)
6. Vagabond Of The Western World
7. Gonna Creep Up On You
Tracks 6 and 7 are a "BBC Radio 1 John Peel Session" (recorded 31 July 1973)
8. Little Girl In Bloom
Track 8 is a "BBC Radio 1 Rock On Session" (recorded 26 February 1974)
10. Little Darling
11. Slow Blues
Tracks 9 to 12 are a "BBC Radio Bob Harris Session" (recorded 6 March 1974)
13. Black Boys On The Corner
Track 13 is a "BBC Radio 1 John Peel Session" (recorded 4 April 1974)
[Notes: tracks 5 and 12, "Suicide" and "Showdown" feature Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson]
There isn't a plastic wrap like previous Deluxe Editions, instead there's a similar-looking 'Deluxe Edition' paper band running around the entire double digipak at the bottom and you have to cut it from sealed to open the side. Both inner flaps contain the lyrics and black & white session photos that were on either side of the rare insert that came with original UK LPs. The "Legend Of The Vagabond" story on the rear cover of the album artwork is reproduced too and the 16-page booklet has a detailed assessment of the album and the band's history to that point by compiler and noted writer MARK POWELL. The power trio of Phil Lynott, Eric Bell and Brian Downey are also pictured.
The iconic and especially commissioned artwork of Dublin artist Jim Fitzpatrick (a theme followed through to Jailbreak, Johnny The Fox and Black Rose) is fully displayed. Fitzpatrick's artwork was steeped in romantic Gaelic folklore and he was kind of Ireland's answer to England's Roger Dean (Yes, Badger, Greenslade album sleeves). Fitzpatrick and Lynott were lifetime friends and he produced over 250 pieces of art for Lizzy and Phil.
The original 1991 CD reissue has been sounding decidedly dated for decades, the 2001 box set versions were an improvement, but these 2007 polish-ups are subtly wonderful. I've raved about PASCHAL BYRNE'S work before (see my reviews for "Ain't No Saint" the 4CD John Martyn box set and "Blues From Laurel Canyon" by John Mayall), and this set is no different. The first generation tapes have been remastered - not too brash - fantastic presence - each track a revelation. As a rabid fan of this album since a spotty teenager in Dublin, to hear these tracks punch above the belt like this is a genuine thrill. As the blistering slide guitar work of Eric Bell opens "Mama Nature Said", you can at last hear the organ work of JAN SCHELHAAS in the background (ex Gary Moore band, later with Caravan & Camel) and the clarity of Downey's drumming on "Gonna Creep Up On You" is awesome. The rather silly Kid Jensen talking track "The Hero & The Madmen" is probably the album's worst offence (whether it sounds good or not), but Eric Bell's truly fantastic guitar work on the full version of "The Rocker" still astonishes (lyrics above).
The previously unreleased remake of "Slow Blues" is OK, but you can't help but feel that something already good should have been left well enough alone. The single edits and very cool non-album B-sides are a huge bonus and the BBC sound quality is ace throughout. But what I wasn't prepared for was the quality of the live stuff on Disc 2. Powell's liner notes describe the July 1973 Hippodrome set as 'blistering' and he's not joking - absolutely on fire, Eric Bell comes out doing an almost note for note version of "The Rocker" that is stunning. And it's also great to hear live versions of "Sitamoia" and "Little Darling" at last sounding so alive. Speaking of which - although it doesn't say in the liner notes, I'd swear the incredible guitar work between tracks 9 and 13 (especially on the unbelievably good "Black Boys On The Corner") - is Gary Moore.
To sum up - die-hard fans may have a lot of it already, but the improved sound will be a big draw. The 8-track album by itself may not tempt many newcomers, but for me the huge amount of truly excellent bonus material make it yet another 2010 'Reissue Of The Year'.
God bless you Phillip Paris Lynott wherever you may be ("...bippin' and boppin' and telling a dirty joke or two...") - and what a band.
PS: The last compilation album touching on the 1971-1974 period of Thin Lizzy was called "The Continuing Saga Of The Ageing Orphans" released in the UK in 1979 on Decca SKL 5298. Of it's 11 tracks, 3 were untouched cuts off the "Vagabonds Of The Western World" album - "Mama Nature Said", "The Hero And The Madman" and "Vagabond Of The Western World". But the other 8 tracks were December 1977 remixes and remakes of old Decca material. They contained contributions from Gary Moore and Midge Ure. The purchase of this Deluxe Edition of "Vagabonds..." AND the '2010' extended editions of their debut "Thin Lizzy" and their 2nd album "Shades Of A Blue Orphanage" will finally allow fans to acquire the missing 8 tracks and along with the from "Vagabonds..." sequence the entire album. See also my separate reviews for those discs...
PPS: see also reviews for "Thin Lizzy" Expanded, "Shades Of A Blue Orphanage" Expanded and 2CD DELUXE EDITION sets of "Nightlife", "Fighting", "Jailbreak", "Johnny The Fox" and "Live & Dangerous" (2CD/1DVD)
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 8 September 2006
It would be wrong to call this album a departure from the traditional Thin Lizzy sound as it preceeds most of their major hits but "The Rocker" apart it's not the same sound. It's more Bluesey and less cocky and of course they were a three piece at the time. That's not to say it doesn't work. Far from it. It's an excellent listen from start to finish and a worthy effort for a band so early into a career who were under pressure to come up a with album they could shift. At this period Lizzy were struggling to pay the bills but rather than rush an album out like they did with "Shades of a Blue Orphanage" they took their time over this one and it shows. It has a lovely mix of songs and on the two ballads ("Slow Blues" and the stunning "Little Girl In Bloom") you can see where future anthems like "Dancing In The Moonlight" were first concieved. There's Plenty of decent rock-outs as well notably "Mama Nature Said" (was this the first rock band writing about the environment?), "The Rocker" and "The Hero and The Madman". The albums title track has an amazing mix of rock and the band's Irish roots (dare you to listen and not fancy a pint of the black stuff halfway through!!) which is truly inventive.
In summary it's a top bit of work with a mixed pace of sounds that plays well all the way through. Lizzy fans will love it and people that have heard of them probably will too.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 14 December 2011
Thin Lizzy's third album, and the final one for Eric Bell who decided he'd had enough on the road at the end of 1973, and quit the band. Vagabonds remains a fine showcase of the 3 piece's talents - whilst we all reverently remember Phil Lynott's superb songwriting and fantastic vocals and showmanship, we should never overlook Brian Downey's rock solid drumming and Eric's outstandingly inventive lead guitar. There's a fair variety of early Lizzy on display, with special mentions going to rock out opener Mama Nature Said and the sinuous Slow Blues, and A Song for Whilst I'm Away and Little Girl in Bloom are lighter but notable interludes. But the real highlights are the tracks in which Eric really does let rip in his inimitable way: Whisky in the Jar probably needs no further recommendation - here in full length version - but Eric's outro solo on The Hero and the Madman is the album's real summit: true, you have to sit through some lengthy cod-fantasy meanderings from our Phil, and a Spinal Tap style voice over from Kid Jensen, but it's worth it all for Eric's scorching fretwork at the end - arguably his greatest studio solo in my view. Things changed a lot for Lizzy with the advent of Gorham and Robertson, not least hitting the big time - but this album is a lasting tribute to an outstanding, if short lived, trio.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 14 April 2003
From the start of this Album to the last bar excellent, no fillers -all is inspired. Eric Bell, Brian Downey and Mr Lynott Excel and is an example of The Early Thin Lizzy period, have seen some people write on here that they enjoy only early or late Lizzy but to me the songwrting and the sheer artistry is present in all that greets yoru grateful ears and years of abuse of those organs has not dampened my enthusiasm, Bad Reputation was one of the first albums I ever bought and my collection is just about complete, I wore my 'Bad Reputation' LP out thank goodness for CD's!!! this is certainly one of my favorite Albums, The Hero is mystical, Little girl in bloom -interesting and clever and the outro guitar solo superb, Broken dream, WOW! through my life I have come back to Lynott many times and found renewed interest and undertstanding for his beliefs values and lyrics and I still find pleasure in the skill of the musicians involved, Fav album?? perhaps Nightlife? or maybe Bad Rep, Or Black Rose? or Jailbreak? or.......... got to go and play one now!!
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 12 December 2006
this their 3rd and most powerful yet. the last of the lizzy trio. the foundations on what the group were built on, whiskey in the jar riding high in the charts although not on this original LP, a edited version of the rocker seemed to be in most decent `jukeboxes` at the time , but the album version had the finest lead guitar break Eric Bell had ever done.Mama nature says, a good song about world pollution, Little girl in bloom, a young girl telling her parents that shes pregnant, Slow blues, with a scorching guitar break at the end. My favourite The hero and the madman, with naration by 70`s DJ, David (kid) Jensen, featuring some fantastic bass runs by Phil, complimented by guitar and drums... This and Bad Reputation, are my best Lizzy albums!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
'Vagabonds of the Western World' represents the most consistently satisfying of the pre-twin guitar Thin Lizzy line-up. The band finally get something of a decent budget to splash on an album, and Phil Lynott, Brian Downey and Eric Bell respond by presenting some fiery studio performances on a stylistsically varied set which sees the band fulfil some of their early promise. Tracks like 'Slow Blues' burn caustically, whilst the single 'Little Darling', the first to feature Gary Moore, is a really punchy little track. I've always loved the flop follow-up to 'Whiskey In The Jar', 'Randolph's Tango', a kind of Latinate pastiche that has a really cute charm, and a great Lynott vocal. This is a nicely packaged and well-remastered set, good value for money, if different from the band would blossom into.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 31 October 2013
Leaving Folk rock behind Lizzy produced a harder edged record with Vagabounds and it pays dividends.You get lizzys first classic songs namely 'Gonna creep up on yer', 'sitahmoa' , 'black boys on the corner' and to a lesser extent 'little darling'.Its a good listen throughout the 2 discs and is superior to Nightlife its follow up.The most surprising thing is how good Eric Bell is. Very underated guitar player. All in all this is a best of the original line up. A must for lizzy fans!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 6 December 2010
probably the most over looked of the lizzy catalog.side one of the original record is classic ! the remaster sounds excellent. while the bonus track are good, if perhaps go a little overboard. if your a lizzy fan , you already know this if not , pick this up and be pleasantly surprised.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 July 2014
One of my favourite bands of all time - great to have these back in my collection!