It’s taken me nearly a week to summon up the necessary to write this post. You can’t say I haven’t warned you it was coming. I imagine it will end up part DVD review and part fan ramblings. A fanview, if you will.
Thin Lizzy - Greatest Hits
was released on DVD on Monday. I forgot about it until that afternoon. My dad took me straight to the big Tesco near where I work to see about getting it. They didn’t have it and the manager man I asked didn’t seem aware of a band called Thin Lizzy at all. Fuckwit.
Anyway, my dad procured it at Luton’s branch of HMV and I was literally hopping around waiting for him to get home that night. I already knew what was going to be on it, and I knew that it would include videos for some of my favourite songs. Not just my favourite Lizzy songs, but favourite songs full stop.
It’s at this point that I’ll tell you that my love for Thin Lizzy grew like no other love before. Slowly, quietly and yet very suddenly and without warning. I can’t remember the first time I heard of the band or of their lanky black Irish singerman. I can’t remember, because it was much too long ago. Much too long ago and perhaps in a different life. I should be so lucky.
My love for Lizzy was helped along by Never Mind The Buzzcocks, which has included them as questions a couple of times. But I already knew them. I even knew of them enough to recognise the joke in ‘The Toys Are Back In Town’ tagline for Toy Story. That was 1995, when I was a shrimp of a thirteen-year-old. It may well turn out that Philip Lynott has been lurking in my life even longer than a Mr Morrison of Los Angeles, CA.
I don’t remember Philip dying. Some of you will say that this is probably because I was four years old at the time. But things I remember from 1986 are many in number. I remember being ritually humiliated at my school or being scared to go too far on the same school’s playing field. Perhaps I had different priorities then, but I knew who Elvis was, who Buddy Holly was, who the Beatles were. Maybe I just didn’t read the tabloid press in January 1986. Maybe I wouldn’t have handled my boy dying back then, just as I can barely manage it now.
I was always meant to find Philip and his beloved band, just as I was always meant to find Jim and his. I know they’ve been there, lurking in the dark corners of my mind, waiting for the moment I was able to accept them. I had to wait until I was seventeen or eighteen to really embrace my Jim, and Philip in his entirety came a little later, just at the time I was searching for my Irishness and was able to accept that sometimes my heroes really can’t stand up to the crushing weight of expectation, could not hold themselves to the same standards I hold myself to. When I was fourteen and in love with a little band from Liverpool, I believed that they must be perfect, unstoppable creatures. When I was eighteen, I knew that my boys had a dark side. When I got my Philip, I was ready to accept that those same boys couldn’t always win the fight against the dark.
But that’s not really what this is about at all. It’s about a DVD full of music videos made before the dawn of MTV.
These are not great videos. Don’t get me wrong, I love things about each and every one of them, but they’re not great. They’re primitive, cheaply-made and in some instances really badly done. Perhaps it’s best we go through them one by one.
( Video By Video. Will Be Quite Lengthy )
So, what have I learned? That I’m utterly, utterly in love with Thin Lizzy? Yes. That their videos were very much a product of their time? Yes. That they’re videos only a fan could really love? Certainly all in one go. This is something to dip into. Watching them all in one go doesn’t work- many of the videos are from the same shoot or are simply too similar. Scott Gorham’s guitar-shagging act is perfectly fine for the three minutes of a video, but man does it get boring over the course of an hour and a half. The songs, which are why we’re really here, are without exception excellent, even the paint-by-numbers stuff.
And I’ve never wanted so much to go back in time and look after them. I was watching the other day and started crying, because I’m a bit of a sap when it comes to them. I couldn’t work out why they weren’t TOTALLY MASSIVE because they’re almost perfect. I mean, Philip’s the perfect rock star. Scott’s so pretty that he should’ve been a teen pin-up to rival DonnyfuckingOsmond or DavidsoddingCassidy. I was sat there, the occasional tear streaking down my face, missing the shit out of them and wondering why they weren’t the biggest band of the 70s (behind Zep, of course. Nothing compares to that phenomenon). And I realised. It’s not that the music’s bad, because it’s great. It’s not that they’re ugly or otherwise inferior, because they’re really not. They did get famous... and then they cocked it up for themselves. This band were... I think Scott himself said that they were the unluckiest band or something, but I don’t think it WAS bad luck. It was themselves. They cocked it up for themselves. How did Philip get hepatitis just before their meant-to-be-world-conquering American tour? Was it from sitting in his hotel room reading Enid Blyton books? I know I’m starting to sound harsh, but a lot of it was their own damn fault! I hate that.
You know something? I don’t know what heroin addicts ‘look like’, but surely they don’t look like Philip Lynott? According to Philomena Lynott, someone told her as Philip was dying that he’d been taking it for ten years. Does that make Philip a junkie? Because he doesn’t look like the heroin addicts you see in the media. He doesn’t look strung out. He doesn’t look like an emaciated wreck in any of these videos. He doesn’t look like he’s dying, not even in the later videos. And you know, my current wallpaper is of a picture of him in May 1985, less than a year before he died. He doesn’t look like whatever it is addicts are meant to look like. I can absolutely understand why it never occurred to Philomena that her son might be on heroin. I mean, how are you supposed to know if there are no outward signs? How are you supposed to see it? I don’t know... so how are you supposed to try and help someone if you don’t know they need help and if they don’t ask for it?
You know, I’ve probably just spent like, six pages going on about how pretty Scott Gorham was/is. He was a heroin addict too. He left the band just before the end in order to seek help. He’s nothing less than very pretty in any of this. How are you meant to tell? I guess it’s true that if someone really wants to hide their secrets, they’ll manage it. Which I guess means that even if God in his infinite wisdom and grooviness sent me back in time before the end of today, I’d still have no help of looking after my boys, or helping them or saving them. Because if they couldn’t do, how could I? Am I meant to go back and beat the shit out of them? Beat the shit out of anyone who tries to deal to them? Lock them away? Watch them every second of every day?
I really just got totally off the point (which was Thin Lizzy ROCK!) didn’t I? I think this DVD just helped break my heart a little bit more. That boy died and there’s absolutely fuck all I can do about it. Might be nice to go back in time and try, anyway.
So yes, to conclude and try not to be some insane fangirl, I’d recommend this DVD to any friend. It’s something a casual fan might enjoy dipping into occasionally and is, I will admit, an excellent account of their career. I mean, I’d recommend the Greatest Hits CD that came out a year ago (this accompanies it) first, but the videos all have a lot of charm. And you know, I’m not sure a single member of the band took any of it seriously at all. Cool.