Posts Tagged Phil Lynott

Culture Vulture: our guide to the week’s entertainment

Saturday, 4 December 2021

Phil Lynott: Songs for While I’m Away BBC Two 10 pm

Tells the story of how a young working-class black boy from 1950s Dublin became Ireland’s greatest rockstar told extensively through the words of Lynott himself and focusing on some of his iconic songs. The film gets to the heart of Phil’s story who died at the age of only 36 in January 1986.

Sight and Sound in Concert: Thin Lizzy BBC Two 11:30 pm

A vintage gig by the Irish guitar rockers at the Regal Theatre in Hitchin Hertfordshire from January 1983. Such classics as Jailbreak Baby, Please Don’t Go and the Boys are Back in Town along with the cover of the Bob Seger song Rosalie are featured.

The Irish Rock Story: A Tale of Two Cities BBC Two 12:05 am

The Story of how Rock music evolved in Ireland over 40 years through the different musical traditions of Belfast and Dublin. The creators of some of the Emerald Isle’s most famous exports are charted including Van Morrison, Thin Lizzy, The Undertones, and U2.

Sunday, 5 December 2021

Animal Farm (1954) Film Four 11 am

An animated version of George Orwell’s modern classic. After ousting humans animals try to create the perfect society.

Women’s FA Cup final BBC One 1:30 pm

The final between Arsenal and Chelsea. They last met in September with the Gunners winning a close game.

Other Like Me: The oral history of COUM Transmissions and Throbbing Gristle BBC4 10:35 pm

How a pioneering 1970s art collective invented industrial music.

Gaga for Dada BBC Four 11:35 pm

Jim Moir (also known as Vic Reeves) goes on an irreverent trip into the world of influential avant-garde art movement Dada.

Tuesday, 7 December 2021

The Code of Conspiracy: QAnon Channel 4 9 pm

Looks behind the curtain at the wildest conspiracy of our times, QAnon. What leads people down such a divergent belief? A one-off documentary that seeks an answer.

Play For Today: Hard Labour (1973) BBC Four 10:30 pm

Mike Leigh’s play centres around a middle-aged housewife and charwoman, Mrs Thornley (played by Liz Smith) who is abused and exploited by almost everybody. I grew up watching Play for Today from the BBC and loved them. We’ve started reviewing them for Counter Culture as they are gems. I wish the BBC would do something similar now.

Wednesday, 8 December 2021

Destry rides again (1939) Film 4 12:30 pm

Worth watching for the divine Marlene’s performance alone

A classic comedy western with Marlene Dietrich and James Stewart. Destry returns to a town (Bottle Neck) where his father once served as Sheriff. It’s now a lawless place so he tries to restore order. I will mainly be watching for the performance of Marlene (playing saloon singer Frenchy) but this is a good film overall.

Thursday, 9 December 2021

Trainspotting Film 4 1120 pm. A great film we reviewed here.

Friday, 10 December 2021

The Graham Norton Show BBC One 10:35 pm I don’t usually watch this, but this features Keanu Reeves who talks about resurrecting Neo in the new Matrix movie.

Nick Cave: Idiot Prayer BBC Four 9 pm

During the pandemic, Nick Cave did a solo piano set in the deserted West Hall of London’s Alexandra Palace which was then live-streamed globally. This is a film of his mesmerising performance containing songs drawn from his 20-year repertoire.

Future of Home exhibition, Custom Lane, 1 Customs Wharf, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 6AL, 3rd to the 19th of December 2021

Following a critically acclaimed debut at the London Design Festival exhibition created by an Edinburgh-based studio, Local Heroes arrives back in its hometown. The exhibition features work by 16 Scotland-based designers and brands revolving around the idea of the hybrid home and the recent need for flexible working offering a remarkable snapshot of the intersection between design and socio-political conditions.

Leave a Comment

Cover Versions: Metallica – Whiskey In The Jar  

COVER VERSIONS.  Some you love & some you hate.  Many of us could probably name plenty of cover versions that have completely ruined a great, if not iconic, song.  But this isn’t about songs that have been ruined – although that might be the subject for one or two Counter Culture reviews sometime in the near future!  On the contrary, this is about a cover version that, in my honest and humble opinion, is better than the original.  

To my mind, one of the best cover versions ever has got to be Metallica’s reworking of the Thin Lizzy classic, Whiskey In The Jar.  And one of the best live performances of it is this from the House of Vans, in London from 18th November 2016.  

Metallica performing in 2017. Picture from: Kreepin Deth, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Before we start to look at Metallica’s masterful version of this classic, it’ll probably be useful to provide a little background information about the song itself.  As some folks may know, Whiskey In The Jar is a traditional Irish song, thought to have been written in the 17th century.  The song itself is set in the southern mountains of Ireland – there are specific mentions of the Cork & Kerry mountains – and tells the tale of a highwayman who is betrayed by his wife or lover.  

The Dubliners, an Irish folk band, were probably the first group to really make the song popular.  Indeed, they included it on at least two albums – More of the Hard Stuff & Live at the Albert Hall– during the 1960s.   

Whiskey In The Jar has been covered by everyone from The Seekers to Bryan Adams.  However, the first version I ever heard was by the Dublin-based rock band Thin Lizzy who really brought it to prominence to my generation when their record company – Decca– released it in November 1972  

I have a very eclectic taste in music – and art in general – but have been into heavy metal & rock since my early teens.  My memory’s not as sharp as it was, but I’ve a vague notion that I’d seen Lizzy performingWhiskey In The Jar on TV.  I presume that this would’ve been on Top Of The Popswhich in those days was essential viewing for anyone interested in music.

Like most people, I was instantly hooked on the song – especially by the crisp & intricate introduction played by Belfast-born lead guitarist, Eric Bell.  Hopefully, this clip from 1973 will illustrate his musical prowess.

(Bell was one-third of Lizzy.  The other two were Brian Downey on drums & probably the most famous of all, Phil Lynott, who was the main songwriter, lead vocalist, and bassist.)  

Years later Bell showed that he’d lost none of his skill when he appeared with Gary Moore– a songwriter & former guitarist with Thin Lizzy.  Billed as Gary Moore and Friends: One Night in Dublin – A Tribute to Phil Lynott one of the highlights included Bell playing on this version of Whiskey In The Jar. 

Now that we’ve got what amounts to the history of Whiskey In The Jar out of the way, it’s time to examine what makes Metallica’sversion just so perfect.  

Metallica was formed in 1981 by main songwriter, vocalist & rhythm guitarist James Hetfield& drummer Lars Ulrich.  Both featured on Whiskey In The Jar alongside along lead guitarist Kirk Hammett& bassist Jason Newsted.  (Newsted was replaced by Robert Trujillo in 2003 & other former members include Cliff Burton, Ron McGovney & Dave Mustaine of Megadeth fame.)  

Whiskey In The Jar was actually the 21st single released by Metallica and featured on their 1998 covers album Garage Inc. The idea behind the album was to feature songs by artists that have influenced the band.  In addition to Thin Lizzy, it features covers of tracks from the likes of Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult & Lynyrd Skynyrd.  

So what makes Metallica’s version of Whiskey In The Jar just so perfect?  

For me it’s the way that they’ve taken a classic track, put their distinctive stamp on it, and made it even better than it was before.  For those into heavy music, there’s no getting away from the fact that Lizzy is most usually associated with Whiskey In The Jar – and rightly so.  However, there’s no mistaking that this version has Metallica written all over it.  

Earlier I mentioned that the introduction to Thin Lizzy’s Whiskey In The Jar had me & many others instantly hooked.  The same could be said of Metallica’sversion – although both versions are completely different!  Indeed, Metallica did away completely with Lizzy’s‘crisp & intricate’ intro & dive straight into the song itself.  

Despite the lack of a distinctive – almost iconic – intro, as soon as I heard Metallica open the song with a thumping ‘dun, dun, dun’ I was captivated.  I’ve absolutely loved their version from the very first time I heard it.  Every time I hear it, I find myself both headbanging – although, due to old age, it’s more of a slightly vigorous nod these days – and wishing that I could play any sort of instrument.  (Singing would be an extra bonus, but I gave up on that one years ago.)  

One of the things I love about Metallica’s version is that it’s just so powerful.  I’m wondering if that’s simply because they’re a much heavier band than Lizzywere – or is there something else to it?  To me, the combined & unrelenting beat created by Robert Trujillo on bass & Lars Ulrich on drums gives it the edge.  I also think James Hetfield has an earthier – maybe even more passionate – voice than Phil Lynott had.  Hetfield’s voice is very distinctive & is well suited to the song.  

Another thing I really like about the Metallica version can be seen at the gig that was mentioned earlier –  Here, I absolutely love Hetfield’s guitar solo (starting at around 2.55) which is completely different from the Lizzy original & his later interaction with the crowd who are clapping and chanting along with him.  

For me, therefore, Metallica have made Whiskey In The Jar their own and their version is simply by far the better version.  

Reviewed by John Field   

O  CHECK OUT the lyrics to Whiskey In The Jar here. 

O  COUNTER CULTURE would really be interested to hear the views of our readers relating to the Thin Lizzy v. Metallica versions of Whiskey In The Jar.  We’d also be interested to know what you think about cover versions in general.  Are there any that improve on the original – and are there any that absolutely butcher the original?  

Comments (1)

The Romantic Rocker – Some Thoughts on Phil Lynott

Thin_lizzy_22041980_01_400

Phil Lynott, Thin Lizzy, Chateau Neuf, Oslo, Norway

What made Phil an ‘outsider’? Well, was this rowdy rocker and party-goer, really an outsider? I think so. Of course, just the hue of his skin in Dublin at the time would have ‘marked him out’. A black Irishman in the 50s and 60s – there was a novelty. Either he had to live up to that difference or retreat from it – Phil, ostensibly, lived up to it. In fact, he had been born at West Bromich in the West Midlands of England close to where I grew up. But Phil was sent to Dublin to live with and be brought up by his grandmother and family. He pays tribute to her in one of his songs titled ‘Sarah’. He wrote another ‘Sarah’ for his first born.

Phil was ‘black’, living apart from his mother, with an estranged father. He was brought up in Catholic Ireland – so different at the time, say, from ‘Swinging London’ and more generally the ‘swinging sixties’ – the decade when he first began to play music. Phil was tall, very leggy and eventually grew an impressive ‘Afro’ hair cut. There was no mistaking him. But there was always a dichotomy about his nature. I met and talked with him a few times (I’m lucky to be able to say) even got to play drums along with him once! With his doleful eyes, lush Dublin brogue and gentle demeanour OFF-stage (I never witnessed his wild side) – this was contrasted with the posing rocker, ‘eye-for-a-lady’, ‘jack-the-lad’, ‘twinkle in the eye’ hard rocker ON stage. Thin Lizzy was a SUPERB live act. They made their reputation and career from their live performances. And they had (to quote a song and album title) a ‘bad reputation’.

There was though, more to this rocker than one would expect. Yes he could write heavy songs with swagger such as ‘The Rocker’: ‘I am your main man if you’re looking for trouble’ – but also some of the most beautiful ballads, such as ‘Still in Love With You’:

‘Think I’ll just fall to pieces
If I don’t find something else to do
This sadness it never ceases
I’m still in love with you.’

Or there were the songs of yearning, ‘Wild One’ being an example with its lines:

‘How can we carry on, now you are gone, my wild one.’

There were many songs imbued with Irish legend of myth and adventure and with more contemporary reference such as, ‘Freedom Song’:

‘I believe in the freedom song
Long live liberty
I believe in the freedom song
Doesn’t matter what you do to me.’

But there was also his religious/spiritual side. I’m writing these words now because the following lines often pop into my head, from the song ‘Dear Lord’:

‘Dear Lord, this is a prayer, just let me know if you’re really there
Dear Lord, come gain control, oh Lord, come save my soul
Give me dignity, restore my sanity, oh Lord, come rescue me
Dear Lord, my vanity, oh Lord, it’s killin’ me, it’s killin’ me.’

Phil had a sense of the Divine… a sense of the world beyond…I even think he had a sense of his impending mortality. This mix of rocker and romantic gave his songs a quality so often lacking from his contemporaries. Thin Lizzy’s songs had this mixture of Rock; Romance; Celtic History; Religion/Spirituality.

Phil was an outsider by nature not by choice. He was ‘Johnny’ the character popping up in many of his songs – he was ‘The Cowboy’, his childhood reflecting children’s awe then of the Wild West and he bringing these romantic adventures to life in the raw 1970s: ‘I am just a cowboy, lonesome on the trail…’

Well if you don’t know, Phil succumbed to the effects of drugs and their long-term use in the mid-80s. Perhaps that was always going to be his destiny. Never to grow old. Always remembered as the rocker, the gypsy with his dangling, hooped earring. His playfulness and talent. But it’s still a damn shame he’s gone. These words reflect just a slight insight into the man and his songs. If you don’t know him and Thin Lizzy check out their back catalogue. ‘Vagabonds of the Western World’ is a raw, solid, Irish, romantic flavoured album from the band as a three-piece; ‘Nightlife’ is a soulful peculiarity (and my favourite album); Jailbreak is the ‘Classic Line-up’ at its height, containing their most famous hit song, ‘The Boys are Back in Town’.

If you don’t know Thin Lizzy and you like your rock delivered with feeling and intensity and yet with some beautiful slow ballads and thought-provoking lyrics – you will be highly delighted when you do. If you already know them – you’ll understand everything I have written. Phil’s life was a romantic-tragedy – with all the paradox that those two words combining bring. I’ll leave you with this stanza from his song, ‘Spirit Slips Away’. Written when he and the band were on the cusp of real stardom.

And when the music that makes you blue
Unfolds its secrets, the mysteries are told to you
May the angels sing rejoice to you
That fateful day when your spirit slips away

By Tim Bragg.

Tim Bragg is the authour of ‘Lyrics to Live By‘, a book which looks at the life lessons in twelve song lyrics.

Picture: Phil Lynott, Thin Lizzy, Chateau Neuf, Oslo, Norway by Helge Øverås [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]

Leave a Comment

The Romantic Rocker – Some Thoughts on Phil Lynott

phillynottWhat made Phil an ‘outsider’? Well, was this rowdy rocker and party goer, really an outsider? I think so. Of course just the hue of his skin in Dublin at the time would have ‘marked him out’. A black Irishman in the 50s and 60s – there was a novelty. Either he had to live up to that difference  or retreat from it – Phil, ostensibly, lived up to it. In fact he had been born at West Bromich in the West Midlands of England close to where I grew up. But Phil was sent to Dublin to live with and be brought up by his grandmother and family. He pays tribute to her in one of his songs titled ‘Sarah’. He wrote another ‘Sarah’ for his first born.

Phil was ‘black’, living apart from his mother, with an estranged father. He was brought up in Catholic Ireland – so different at the time, say, from ‘Swinging London’ and more generally the ‘swinging sixties’ – the decade when he first began to play music. Phil was tall, very leggy and eventually grew an impressive ‘Afro’ hair cut. There was no mistaking him. But there was always a dichotomy about his nature. I met and talked with him a few times (I’m lucky to be able to say) even got to play drums along with him once! With his doleful eyes, lush Dublin brogue and gentle demeanour OFF-stage (I never witnessed his wild side) – this was contrasted with the posing rocker, ‘eye-for-a-lady’, ‘jack-the-lad’, ‘twinkle in the eye’ hard rocker ON stage. Thin Lizzy were a SUPERB live act. They made their reputation and career from their live performances. And they had (to quote a song and album title) a ‘bad reputation’.

There was though, more to this rocker than one would expect. Yes he could write heavy songs with swagger such as ‘The Rocker’: I am your main man if you’re looking for trouble but also some of the most beautiful ballads, such as ‘Still in Love With You’: Think I’ll just fall to pieces/if I don’t find something else to do/ this sadness it never ceases/ I’m still in love with you. Or there were the songs of yearning, ‘Wild One’ being an example with its lines: How can we carry on, now you are gone, my wild one. There were many songs imbued with Irish legend of myth and adventure and with more contemporary reference such as, ‘Freedom Song’: I believe in the freedom song/Long live liberty/I believe in the freedom song/Doesn’t matter what you do to me.

But there was also his religious/spiritual side. I’m writing these words now because the following lines often pop into my head, from the song ‘Dear Lord’: Dear Lord, this is a prayer, just let me know if you’re really there/Dear Lord, come gain control, oh Lord, come save my soul/Give me dignity, restore my sanity, oh Lord, come rescue me/
Dear Lord, my vanity, oh Lord, it’s killin’ me, it’s killin’ me.

Phil had a sense of the Divine… a sense of the world beyond…I even think he had a sense of his impending mortality. This mix of rocker and romantic gave his songs a quality so often lacking from his contemporaries. Thin Lizzy’s songs had this mixture of Rock; Romance; Celtic History; Religion/Spirituality.

Phil was an outsider by nature not by choice. He was ‘Johnny’ the character popping up in many of his songs – he was ‘The Cowboy’, his childhood reflecting children’s awe then of the Wild West and he bringing these romantic adventures to life in the raw 1970s: I am just a cowboy, lonesome on the trail…

Well if you don’t know, Phil succumbed to the effects of drugs and their long-term use in the mid-80s. Perhaps that was always going to be his destiny. Never to grow old. Always remembered as the rocker, the gypsy with his dangling, hooped earring. His playfulness and talent. But it’s still a damn shame he’s gone.  These words reflect just a slight insight into the man and his songs. If you don’t know him and Thin Lizzy check out their back catalogue. ‘Vagabonds of the Western World’ is a raw, solid, Irish, romantic flavoured album from the band as a three-piece; ‘Nightlife’ is a soulful peculiarity (and my favourite album); Jailbreak is the ‘Classic Line-up’ at its height, containing their most famous hit song, ‘The Boys are Back in Town’.

If you don’t know Thin Lizzy and you like your rock delivered with feeling and intensity and yet with some beautiful slow ballads and thought-provoking lyrics – you will be highly delighted when you do. If you already know them – you’ll understand everything I have written. Phil’s life was a romantic-tragedy – with all the paradox that those two words combining bring. I’ll leave you with this stanza from his song, ‘Spirit Slips Away’. Written when he and the band were on the cusp of real stardom.

And when the music that makes you blue
Unfolds its secrets, the mysteries are told to you
May the angels sing rejoice to you
That fateful day when your spirit slips away

By Tim Bragg

Phil Lynott (20 August 1949 – 4 January 1986) was best known as the singer, frontman and bassist with Thin Lizzy

Tim Bragg is author of ‘Lyrics to Live by: Keys to Self-Help; Notes for a Better Life: https://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B07FW1BC5D/thirdway0c

 

 

 

Leave a Comment

“Revamped Too” – Tim Bragg (2012)

Revamped Too is largely a compilation of various tracks from Tim Bragg’s back catalogue but also features some brand new recordings plus previously unreleased material. Tim Bragg is a talented and engaging multi-instrumentalist who has composed an impressive body of work comprising several albums that range from protest folk to jazz-rock to pop ballads with an obvious Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy influence. He is also a novelist who has covered such genres as science fiction and political social commentary in works such as “The White Rooms”, “The English Dragon” and “Oak” – themes that have also inspired an earlier album “Fields of England”. Three tracks from this album (which is due for a revamped release in 2013) are featured on Revamped Too: “Rock the Boat” concerns political-correctness; the gutsy “My Family” and my favourite track: “England’s Seal”, a brilliant Marleyish piece of reggae “agitist” reflection.

The album is impressively produced and mixed with a highly attractive cover and features a wonderful assortment of various well-crafted contributions by various musicians – although Bragg at times performs most of the instruments. There is also a rockier cover version of Phil Lynott’s “Kings Call” and a country-rock version of Little Feat’s “Willin’”. Other tracks to look out for are “Sometimes” (which opens and closes the album with different versions) and “These People” (a reference to those folk who wreck other people’s lives!).

An instrumental album “Crossing Over” concerning spiritual themes and exploring the human predicament of death has been recorded and awaits release sometime in 2013, plus the aforementioned revamped version of “Fields Of England” (a work that demands more recognition). Bragg’s move to France has certainly given him a warm objectivity, Buddhist-like detachment and inspiring artistic perspective in the composition of his music – informed as it is by his writing and philosophical insights particularly concerning his former native land. He delivers these songs with heartfelt conviction and integrity. They come from a real place but as someone once said “a prophet is without honour in his own country” (how sadly true of Bragg). Nevertheless this compilation expresses a freshness and positivity rich in soul and genuine creativity, a work that is topical, relevant and delivered with a gritty rustic realism but shot through with warmth and compassion.

Wayne Sturgeon

Layout 2

Leave a Comment