Phil Lynott – The Philip Lynott Album 1982 – 75%
This is a pop album, pretty much exclusively. I myself aren’t too fond of pop music. I’m sure well over 95% of the people who visit this site aren’t fond of straight up pop music. Knowing this is a pop album, how can the rating be anything but 0%? How can any self respecting metalhead enjoy such a type of album? Because Phil Lynott is the subject under the microscope, and Phil Lynott knew how to write music that was catchy, heartfelt, and genuine. Every song dips deep in the pool of Phil’s superior songwriting skills in one way or another.
Although a pop album, the style of pop varies from song to song. The Man’s a Fool, for instance throws in some upbeat horns with a speedy beat. It’s somewhat disco, somewhat funky, and somewhat old school rock and roll. Another track, Ode to Liberty, takes a more country style and mixes it with some upbeat acoustics. Phil’s great voice is probably at the top of it’s form here, as he strives for perfection. When he went for the same goal in Thin Lizzy, the results were quite different. Here, he knows he’s playing a different style of music. Thin Lizzy is for the heavier output Phil is able to write. His solo project is explicitly his, and it’s clear he’s striving for pop hooks with every instrument, including catchy as hell keyboards. In Cathleen (A Beautiful Irish Girl), the main hooks come from the presence of a harmonica. It’s quite a soft ballad, written for Phil’s daughter. It’s made slightly humorous at the end, as Phil proclaims, “Now shut up and go to bed!”
Old Town is probably my favorite song, and it’s probably one of the poppiest. It features a story about a girl screwing up a relationship, only to have the boy cracking up and breaking down. It features some catchy-as-AIDS trumpet and piano sections, which almost have a classical vibe to them. These sections provide a stark contrast to the dark omen emitting constantly from the chorus, possibly in parallel to Phil’s own problems at time in life.
Songs like Old Town, Growing Up, and Yellow Pearl (Remix) are primarily piano driven. Phil has proven himself to be a very capable pianist, and he’s nearly as good on it as he is on his usual instruments. Growing Up does also share the spotlight with a lot of saxophone. The sax, as sax tends to be, is smoooooth. If you know there’s saxophone on a pop album, you should know what to expect. The performance is completely up to par, and nothing about it is out of place at all. Phil really did try to write a diverse selection of songs. The driving piano in Old Town shares no real similar characteristics compared to the piano in Growing Up. The piano normally retains a prominent role in the music, basically giving everything it’s shape.
Yellow Pearl is another highlight of the album. It’s done in a very 80s Queen style, when they dropped the rock for a more pop sound. It has some robotic vocals in it, along with Phil’s traditional style. Apparently it’s a remix of a song from Phil’s first solo album. It’s again a very upbeat/quick track and serves as a bit of a mood lifter, after the down-tempo Growing Up.
The song Together is probably the most Thin Lizzy like song on the album, followed closely by Don’t Talk About Me Baby. The former is driven along by Phil’s rather heavy bass, and a very stacotto sounding drum machine, while the latter ends the album on a positive musical note in a Thin Lizzy style. It employs some somewhat heavy distorted guitars, followed by a solo that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on some of the early Lizzy albums. Phil sounds like he’s singing with all the conviction his heart can produce in every song I’ve ever heard by them, and these songs are no exception.
Songs like Cathleen, Little Bit of Water, Growing Up, Gino, and Old Town can probably come across as way too poppy (they are), despite just how genuine the songwriting remains. It’s clear Phil was writing pop music to try and garner some success. That’s what solo projects are for though. It’s obvious this is not a Thin Lizzy album. It was never intended to be. This is Phil expressing his softer side. This album is not for fans expecting more Thin Lizzy rocking. This album is for Phil Lynott fans who simply love the man’s style of writing music (such as myself).
Highlights include: The Man’s a Fool, Old Town, Yellow Pearl, Don’t Talk About Me Baby
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