Bad Reputation ends a very fertile run of albums from Lizzy, from their eponymous '71 debut, with one album a year, except for the two in '76, up to this one. After this they took an extended break, 'Robbo' disappearing from the scene at the time for a spell, and Downey absenting himself for a while when they reconvened in '79, finally returning with Black Rose.
As the cover pic suggests, this album is largely the work of a three piece. You wouldn't know that from simply listening to it. It sounds like the classic Lizzy lineup at its peak. The music ranges from the hard funky rock of the title track (Downey's drumming on this is colossal: he's a true Titan of the tubs!) to the slinky soul of Dancin' in The Moonlight, taking in mid paced rockers like Soldier of Fortune and Opium Trail whilst still leaving space for Phil's sensitive side, on such tracks as Southbound and Downtown Sundown.
It's a bona fide classic: great songs, great playing... just great. The bonus track BBC sessions show how tight and together they were. Phil writing great tunes, with good collaborative efforts filling the album out, Downey and Gorham bringing musical finesse and fire to Lynott's great vocal/bass leadership combo. Black Rose has some great tunes, but it's not as consistently excellent, and Chinatown and Renegade are, for me at any rate, poor showings by classic Lizzy standards. Thunder & Lightning is brilliant, but it's so much an '80s metal album that it's almost a totally different band, and something of an anomaly in the Lizzy catalogue.
Whilst the remastered sound is stunning, personally I feel the extras are only so-so. Some of the Lizzy reissues add a lot of different material, here you simply get several reiterated tracks from the album in BBC sessions. These latter are really excellent, but hardly strikingly surprising archival discoveries from the vaults. The final track is best in this respect, but sits a bit oddly because of that same fact, it being the sole non-album track, and a live soundcheck sans vocals to boot. Downey and Gorham are on fire throughout, and whilst it might only be a sound check, the whole band play their asses off. Impressive! So, for me, and as contentious as this may be, this is Lizzy's final beautiful golden egg.
Fantastic final studio album of the classic, & best line-up of the greatest band ever.Bar none.This is a step-up from previous album Johnny the Fox.Big name producer Tony Visconti gets a bigger sound from the lads,Brian's drums benefit from this too.This is a fabulous Lizzy album,super high consistantcy in the material all the way through, & unlike Johnny the Fox,more of the songs here made it into the live set & stayed there too!This album also benefited from having a huge pop hit on it in Dancing in the Moonlight,which no doubt opened new doors for the lads.Negatives???At 9 tracks it is quite a short album,but the saddest thing is the on-going turmoil in the band regarding Robbo & his er' lifestyle choices & decisions, that were now compromising the band.He had already been replaced by Gary Moore for a U.S. tour due to a hand injury & he was 'OUT' at the start of the making of this record & therefore not featured on it,in it's entirety.Visconti said in a documentary how 'hurt' Robbo was as played his solo's for this record.Alas,the end was near,& Robbo was gone,for good in 1978.With all due respect to all those that followed after Live & Dangerous,and there were still some fantastic moments,it was never,ever the same again.I digress,this is & remains a superb album & essential for all Thin Lizzy fans.
This album was the last studio album to feature the classic Gorham / Robertson line-up. Scott was initially the sole guitarist but he wanted Robbo's input and so Robbo actually ended up appearing on more of this recording than is often stated .Scott shines brightly here as does Brian R (where he contributes ) , Phil is in great form lyrically and musically and Brian Downey plays some of his most memorable drumming throughout the course of the album .Tony Visconti takes the role of producer for his first period working with Lizzy . Lizzy have always been a seemingly difficult group to produce for ; does the producer go for a raw Rock sound or does he pursue a more silky ,commercial result ? Well the production is a bit of a mixed bag but Visconti includes some great ideas here at various times .
The highlights for me include the song 'Bad Reputation'. I remember how Scott chose this song to include as his contribution to Phil's memorial radio show shortly after Phil's demise .'Opium Trail' is noteworthy for its lyrical content ,especially when we consider Phil's sad fate . 'Southbound ' is a fine ,melodic song full of charm and featuring a wonderful solo from Scott . Another song that features a great Gorham solo follows in the form of 'Dancing in the Moonlight' .'Killer Without a Cause ' is a great rocker where Robbo plays blistering ,aggressive lead guitar . 'Downtown Sundown' features a brilliantly tasty solo from Scott ; in fact Scott stated during an interview in the early '80's that he considered this solo to have been the best of his career .The final song ,titled ' Dear Lord' is an interesting finale to the album . Here Visconti's then wife , Mary Hopkin , contributes beautiful and ethereal layered , choir-like vocals that really elevate the whole song. Also contained within the song is another excellent solo from Scott and a really superb bluesy guitar break close to the beginning of the song that begs the question as to which of the guys played it ? The only songs left to mention are 'Soldier of Fortune' (which is the album opener ) and 'That Woman's Gonna Break Your Heart' which is the penultimate song. Both of these songs also contain the classic twin guitar sound that define much of what Thin Lizzy were known and admired for .
...but still great. Released during the Fighting-to-Black Rose era that is widely regarded as the band's peak period, Bad Reputation features a good mix of heavier tracks with more soulful numbers, and features some notable lead guitar work from Scott Gorham after usual point man Brian Robertson missed the majority of the recording due to a bar-brawl injury. It could be argued that the album is somewhat lacking in the huge hits that made the band so popular, but as a person who's always preferred Lizzy's less well-known material to their 'greatest hits', I consider that a good thing - there are some hidden gems here that I had never even heard of before but that I now adore.
I must say, I was somewhat disappointed when I found out Bad Reputation's remastered release was only a single disc edition when all the other recent Thin Lizzy remasters have been two-disc sets. Bad Reputation is one of my favourite Lizzy albums and contains my all-time favourite Thin Lizzy track (the rocking Opium Trail), and the fact that it was comparatively lacking in extra material was a bit of a let down.
However, this album has a lot of pros to outweigh the cons. Unlike the laziness and disappointment that surrounded the first three reissued albums - the totally incorrect bonus track listings, the lack of new audio remastering (despite being advertised otherwise) - this album is presented properly, with a good sound mix created specifically for this edition and packaging that actually reflects what you are buying. It's not the greatest remastering work I've ever heard, but it is an improvement over previous CD releases. The BBC Session recordings are also a nice bonus, essentially acting as alternate versions of the album tracks they represent. While some new, unreleased songs would have been nice, for the price this package is a good buy.
In summary, if you'd like to take a step away from Thin Lizzy's numerous greatest hits collections, Bad Reputation is a good place for you to start (after the incredible Black Rose, that is).
After the bad taste the last 3 Lizzy Deluxe Editions seem to leave in many fans mouths (advertised as new remasters, Universal simply used the 1996 versions and didn’t change the booklets or adverts) – I’m glad to say this reissue of Lizzy’s much-loved 8th album “Bad Reputation” is a real improvement on the former 1996 outing - and packs some nice surprises in the bonus department too. Here are the Soldiers of Fortune…
UK released June 2011 - "Bad Reputtaion" by THIN LIZZY on Universal/Mercury 2772693 (Barcode 602527726939) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster with Six Bonus Tracks and plays out as follows (57:24 minutes):
1. Soldier Of Fortune 2. Bad Reputation 3. Opium Trail 4. Southbound 5. Dancing in The Moonlight (It's Caught Me In Its Spotlight) 6. Killer Without A Cause 7. Downtown Sundown 8. That Woman's Gonna Break Your Heart 9. Dear Lord Tracks 1 to 9 are the original LP "Bad Reputation" released 2 September 1977 on Vertigo Records 9102 016 in the UK and on Mercury SRM1-1186 in the USA. It peaked at Number 4 in the UK album charts and at 49 in the US.
BONUS TRACKS: 10. Killer Without A Cause (BBC Session, 1 August 1977) 11. Bad Reputation (BBC Session, 1 August 1977) 12. That Woman's Gonna Break Your Heart (BBC Session, 1 August 1977) 13. Dancing In Moonlight (It's Caught Me In Its Spotlight) (BBC Session, 1 August 1977) 14. Downtown Sundown (BBC Session, 1 August 1977)
16. Me And The Boys (Soundcheck) Tracks 10 to 16 are all PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED (no other details)
The expanded 16-page booklet has new liner notes (doesn’t say who wrote them) and features the album’s original inner sleeve along with some new live photos of the band in both colour and black and white. It’s nice, but oddly doesn’t reference the bonus tracks at all except to list their titles (I mean 'Soundcheck' – where, when?)
The remaster was carried out by ANDY PEARCE and MATT WORTHAM at Wired Masters in the UK in 2010 – and the sound is much improved. The 1996 version always seemed slightly muffled – muddy almost – but each track here is very clear - especially the rhythm section. I’ve always loved the slightly romantic feel to "Southbound", "Downtown Sundown" and "Dear Lord" – and each sounds great – really clear, punchy without being overly cranked for effect. The irrepressible "Dancing In The Moonlight…" (lyrics above) leaps out of the speakers at you. The only two I found slightly underwhelming are "Soldier Of Fortune" and "Opium Trail" – maybe there’s just too much going on in the tracks – but they sound even more 'dense' that before – and not in a good way - but obviously it’s a matter of personal taste.
Amazingly, the opening two BBC tracks "Killer Without A Cause" and "Bad Reputation" start out sounding like the band live-in-the-studio (exciting and alive), but the next three end up sounding like polished overdubbed versions which are virtually indistinguishable from the album cuts. On the opening two, you really feel the songs coming alive – and the sheer rocking tightness of the group who’d been touring their wrinkled butts off for years – shines through also. There’s a rush of excitement on the first two – the last three are just a little 'too' polished – almost sedate.
And then you’re presented with a truly astonishing diamond in the rough - a genuine Thin Lizzy bonus track gem. "Me And The Boys" first turned up as a crowd-storming track on the "Live And Dangerous" double in 1978 (its also famously featured on the video of the concert), but it disappointingly wasn’t on the DE version of "Live & Dangerous" in 2010. Well – here it is – albeit in a 'Soundcheck' version – and it’s ragged and absolutely amazing. This is what Lizzy fans have craved – their band rocking like an absolute monster – tight even when they were shambolic. As I say - it’s messy - but man is it good!
To sum up – despite the booklet being slightly disjointed – the remaster is great and the bonus tracks – proper fan pleasers.
I remember being at Dalymount Park in Dublin (a football stadium) in the Summer of 1977 when Lizzy were at their peak – Phil pointing the reflection plate of his black bass through the crowd as the light caught it in the approaching evening. He was laying into the cool lyrics of “Dancing In The Moonlight…” and the whole place was boogieing – I remember thinking just how 'magic' they were.
I like it that this CD has brought some of that vibe back to me…after all these years…