Thin Lizzy’s first live album, Live And Dangerous from 1978, is from the classic era of the rock live album, and is a prime example of the classic live album: a good selection of tracks culled from a wide range of concerts, spirited performances with adequate sound… in essence, pretty much a “best of…” album, but with versions not available elsewhere, some even arguably better than their studio versions, eg. also a must-have for fans with all previous albums. Devious… but at least in the case of Live And Dangerous, true enough for the album to not be a rip-off.
It is also a prime example of the classic live album in the sense that there’s no telling how much of the album is actually live. It’s no secret that various bits and pieces of the album were later overdubbed in the studio, additional tracks recorded and the original live recording tampered with in general to improve the experience. Some say this is basically a studio album in the guise of a live album, whilst others claim the live recordings were tampered with minimally, only to eliminate some flaws resulting from fluctuating recording quality and/or playing errors and that it is still primarily live.
Who knows. But does it matter?
Maybe it did upon release. Maybe back in 1978, people had a right to demand a recording that was as live as possible, an authentic live recording. Maybe not. Today, 40 years later, it doesn’t matter at all. Live And Dangerous is classic as it is, studio overdubs and all. More than a testament of Thin Lizzy live, it is a testament of that era of rock music, of the classic live album, and of one of the best hard rock bands of the time. It’s become a staple and icon of rock music partially because of the “controversy” surrounding the authenticity of its live content.
But above all, its a blistering recording. In retrospect, it’s quite easy to say that whatever amount of studio overdubs were made, they were justified when the result is an album filled to the brim with this kind of energy. This really captures Thin Lizzy at their rip roaring best – whether it was achieved on stage or in studio. There’s the heavy rocking of Jailbreak and The Rocker, but there’s also the laid back, relaxed rocking of Southbound and the semi-balladeering of Dancing In The Moonlight, one of Lizzy’s best songs ever. The album is reminder of that Thin Lizzy were not just hard rockers, they were capable of a wide range of expression.
Thin Lizzy were one of the coolest bands ever, at least during their best albums (you have to admit, there’s more than a few less-than-stellar albums in their discography), and Live And Dangerous captures them at their prime. Who gives a fuck if the recordings were retouched and recreated in the studio to capture that moment in time?