Renegade is one of those albums which is often overlooked (and underrated) but it contains some absolutely classic Lizzy. Although Snowy White was often criticised for his laid-back stage persona, lacking Robbo's aggression or Gary Moore's energy, such criticism is irrelevant on record, where his ability is beyond doubt (if the best of this album and Chinatown had been on one release, I'm sure it would be regarded as a classic). The album opens typically strongly with the epic "Angel Of Death"; Darren Wharton's atmospheric lengthy keyboard intro an instant indication of a new dimension to the traditional Lizzy sound - until the familiar guitars come crashing in. And with echoes of Jeff Wayne's Musical Version Of War of the Worlds (to which Phil Lynott had contributed with such great effect), it's full of menace. Although also over 6 mins long, the following track "Renegade" (a Lynott/White composition) is in total contrast musically; with its chiming guitars and evocative lyrics, strong on cinematic imagery: surely one of Lizzy's best! It takes until the third track, "The Pressure Will Blow", for the classic Lizzy harmony guitars to really make their presence felt and despite the sheer quality of the first two tracks, the familiarity of the twin guitar sound is more than welcome. "Leave This Town" isn't your typical Lizzy rocker (although it includes a typically clever lyric from Lynott) - it's more of a ZZ Top-style boogie, adding to the sense that the album would have a diverse approach. And perhaps that's where some of the dissatisfaction lies in some quarters - the willingness to take risks pays off in some areas more than others. For instance, "Fats", with its lyric inspired by jazz star Fats Waller, although musically close to "Dancing In The Moonlight ...", might have been more at home on a Philip Lynott solo album but "Hollywood ..." was certainly a firm favourite with many supporters and the album closer "It's Getting Dangerous" has some of Phil's most poignant lyrics.
As for the extras, I always felt that the "Trouble Boys" single was more Rockpile than Thin Lizzy and the b-side "Memory Pain" clearly reflected Snowy's blues background. Having them included here is great for completists, as a record of the time (and brings back memories of the band's somewhat shaky appearance at the Milton Keynes Bowl). The edited single version of "Renegade" and promo single and 12 inch versions of "Hollywood" complete the bonus tracks. It could be that the (unusual) absence of any hit singles accounts more than anything for the poor sales of the album. I reckon if the record company had released "Leave This Town" things might have been different but they seemed to give up supporting the band. More live material recorded at this time was released as b-sides and extras to singles from what would prove, sadly, to be Lizzy's last studio album (Thunder And Lightning) and the Deluxe Edition of that album has those extras. So although Renegade has relatively few bonus tracks compared with the other re-issues, the bargain price might tempt those not yet convinced about this particular line-up. It's one of those albums I don't play as much as others but each time I do I think wow - there's some great stuff on here. Although Lizzy's days would soon be numbered, the Renegade tour was a cracker (certainly to start with) and Phil seemed re-energised; confident enough in the new material to open the show with three unfamiliar songs - a risk which paid off (helped in no small measure by a great stage set complete with the album's red flags and lighting crew in cages above the stage, like ball-turret gunners!). Even if it's maybe not a match for Lizzy's absolute best, there are plenty of highs on this album and this remastered Expanded Edition has a well-written and presented booklet - really, you can't go wrong!