Our favorite moments from Kevin ‘Sipreano’ Howes’ liners for Thin Lizzy’s second album Shades of a Blue Orphanage.
Regarding the critical reception of the bands eponymous first LP: “Upon release, the album had sunk faster than a leaky wooden vessel attempting to cross the Irish sea.”
“We weren’t self-sufficient by any means. You’d depend on your girlfriend or mom sending you some cash from Ireland, just to exist.” – Downey on the band’s early days in London.
Sipreano On ‘Buffalo Gal’: “[it] contains stout elements of what many perceive as the ‘classic’ Thin Lizzy paradigm: anthem meets nostalgia aimed straight at the heart.”
Sipreano on the band member’s unique music tastes: “Bell was a total blues freak, while Downey threw jazz and R&B into the mix. Lynott was perhaps the most eclectic.” Bell states, “When we travelled in the van, Philip would have cassettes of ZZ Top, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, and then you hear James Brown and people like Wilson Pickett and all these soul guys who were coming out at the time.”
“If David Bowie was on, Philip would be watching him, like fucking every move.” – Bell on Phil watching other acts from the sidelines.
Lizzy did covers of “Street Fighting Man,” The Doctor Who theme, and “If 6 Was 9″ as part of their set list before and during the making of Blue.
Bell on the birth of “Whiskey In The Jar-o”:
“We were rehearsing in a pub in London, and there was nothing happening. We couldn’t get any songs together. It was just a negative sort of day,” says Bell. “Philip picked up a guitar and started singing these old folk songs on his own, just for a laugh. After about ten minutes of this, he eventually got onto ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ [a traditional Irish folk song]. At this point, me and Brian said, ‘Aw, fuck it!’ and we started having a laugh as well. So we started playing along with him until Ted Carroll (co-manager) came into the room. He had been looking for a new amplifier for me, an HH transistor amp. No valves. We were excited to try it out.
Ted said, ‘What was that song you were just playing as I came in?’
Phil said, ‘Wot? Fuckin’ good amplifier, Ted!’
‘Yeah, what was that song?’
‘Ah, man, we were only fuckin’ messin’ about.’
‘Yeah, but what was the song?’
‘Oh, “Whiskey in the Jar.”‘
‘You know what? I was standing at the bottom of the stairs before I came up, and I heard you playing that, and I said to myself, “I think that’s a fucking hit record!”‘
And we all fell about laughing, you know. We thought he was having a joke. About six weeks later we were recording ‘Black Boys On The Corner’ for the A-side of our next single, and we really hadn’t got a B-side together.
Ted was there that day and said, ‘Why don’t you try “Whiskey in the Jar”?’
We were all, ‘You gotta be kidding! We are not that type of fucking band.’
And he said, ‘Well if you haven’t got anything, why don’t you try it?’
The rest was history.
- Decca switched the sides of their ’72 single so that “Whiskey” was on the A-side. Lynott was furious. And when the single was sent to radio stations it came with a little bottle of ‘liquid courage’ and a Thin Lizzy sticker.
On Lynott dressing the part of a frontman: “Philip was besotted with clothes,” remembers Bell. “When I first met Phillip he was wearing white Oxford bags [loose fitting trousers], brogues, and a sort of Humphrey Bogart groom coat. He was worse than a woman, you know [laughs]. Really he was.”