Thin Lizzy’s live legacy didn’t need improving upon but a batch of previously ‘lost’ tapes suggests iconic record Live & Dangerous might be the tip of the creative iceberg.
First off the poroduction line from this new treasure trove of Lizzy jewels is a set from the band’s 1977 show in Philadelphia following the completion of Bad Reputation.
rushonrock caught up with guitar star Scott Gorham to chew the fat on the new record, Still Dangerous, future releases and why downloading could be costing his kids a piar of shoes…
rushonrock: Live & Dangerous consistently features in the lists of the best live albums of all time so why gamble on the release of Still Dangerous? Is it not a case of if it ain’t broke don’t fix it?
Scott Gorham: The new record was released for a lot of reasons. There were difference circumstances which meant it was the right time. But basically when we found the tapes I realised what was actually going through my head at the time (1977). We’d just finished recording the Bad Reputation record in Toronto and were offered this tour in America. This was our big chance to crack the US – at that point in time a few people in the States knew Thin Lizzy because of The Boys Are back In Town or Jailbreak but we really hadn’t toured North America extensively. It became the crucial tour for us in our minds – we decided we were going to crack the US and that was the main thrust of the tour which started out with a few club size dates including the Tower Theatre in Philadelphia. In listening to the ‘lost’ tape of that show it reminded me of the thought process back then and how determined we really were to put on some truly great shows. We needed an audience to road test Bad Reputation and in that two-week warm-up period we played songs to the audience for the first time. The set-list that appears on Still Dangerous is the exact order we were playing the songs in on that tour and it shows what Lizzy were all about at that moment in time.
rushonrock: Ok, glad we got that one straight but what will die-hard fans of Live & Dangerous like about Still Dangerous?
SG: I think they’ll like it for the simple fact that this was the first and only time that these songs in this order were ever recorded live. I think what people are going to discover is that we really had our shit together at the point this show was captured. It’s also to do with the proof factor I suppose. There have been so many Chinese whispers over the years about the so-called overdubs and all that crap on Live & Dangerous – and there are nowhere near as many as people seem to believe by the way – but this record is straight off the stage and onto tape. It’s a statement of proof and we’re saying to people ‘check this out and make you own minds up’.
rushonrock: Can you shed some more light on how the Phili tapes and other lost material was discovered?
SG: The lawyers who are taking care of the Lizzy estate these days wrote to us after going through the accounts. They said we were paying for these two lock-ups in central London on a monthly basis and nobody knew where they were, what they contained or why we were doing it. I decided to go in there and see what there was. I think it was me at the time who said we have to bake these tapes and get it down to a digital format asap or else they would disappear forever.
rushonrock: And how did you come across the Phili show in particular?
SG: I found this one set of boxes and all it had printed on it was Philadelphia No2 1977. I listened to how we played that night and how great we sounded and I just knew it couldn’t stay a secret. And there is a lot of other material too. I was surprised at how many tapes were in there – there were loads of boxes which said ‘live this’ and ‘live that’ or whatever. I need to get back into the studio and sit down with the engineer and start going through all of the tapes that I don’t recognises. A lot will be lives shows but some might be out-takes or even unreleased tracks. If the quality is there and we’re playing to the right standard then I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t release some more of this stuff in the future. But there has to be quality control.
rushonrock: Well this is the first record on Thin Lizzy Productions – can we expect the band’s new label to release more music soon?
SG: We’re hoping as we go through the tapes there will be more viable product so I suppose the answer’s yes. But the Phili show might be the only one we can do anything with. I hope not. Or the rest might just be a pile of shit.
rushonrock: But what about an album of new Lizzy material?
SG: That’s like the number one question I’m always asked and if I’m totally honest I’m embarrassed that we haven’t done anything to address that situation. Maybe the new label will give us the nudge we need to release an original record. That’s an idea and one I’m thinking about right now.
rushonrock: I know you have concerns about the way the music industry is going but what worries you most?
SG: I just feel the whole download trend is capable of really damaging the music I love. Suddenly musicians and bands have no control over who can get hold of their music and often there’s no financial return. There’s this misconception that rock stars spend all their royalties on Ferraris and big houses with swimming pools. But the majority of us are just regular guys who want to buy the kids a new pair of shoes or go on a holiday from time to time. And we need an income like the next man. A lot of good bands won’t be able to afford to do this for much longer if illegal downloads continue at such a pace. For me Lizzy is my regular day job and I have to pay the bills. I really hope a new regulatory system comes into place sooner or later.
rushonrock: Maybe a renewed interest in vinyl will go some way towards redressing the balance. It’s not an easy format to pirate or copy.
SG: I hope so. I really miss that 12 inch album cover, the weight of it and the packaging. Back in the day bands were prepared to spend a shit load of money on artwork because they knew it would be seen it all its 12-inch glory and make a real statement. Sound wise I don’t know whether the man in the street will notice much of a difference on the new so-called audiophile quality 180 gram vinyl. But I’m glad it’s making a comeback. I really am.