Phil Lynott’s Grand Slam – Slam Anthems – Album Review9th June 2023
Even though he sadly passed away in 1986, the music of Phil Lynott is still very much with us. Indeed, Thin Lizzy is still an on-off going concern since reuniting in the mid ’90s. In addition, they also spawned the excellent Black Star Riders too. As a result, he is quite rightly viewed as a legend and arguably held in higher regard now than when he was alive, which is a real shame.
He also left behind a body of solo work outside of Lizzy. This set, however, focuses on unreleased material recorded with Grand Slam. Together with guitarist Laurence Archer, and ex Magnum Keyboard man Mark Stanway, he spent his 1983/84, in effect, starting again. No official material was released, though widely bootlegged. Here we have remixed versions of recordings from that period, and a disc of demos. In addition, there are four discs of live shows from that era too. As a result, what we have here is a real treasure trove for fans of Phil, and Thin Lizzy.
The seasoned Thin Lizzy aficionado will immediately spot some familiar material here, with a few songs having been recorded outside of Grand Slam. Almost certainly the most famous of these is Dedication. Despite having been written with Archer, it was later released as a ‘lost’ Thin Lizzy track in 1991 on the compilation of the same name. However, that version featured Lynott‘s bass and vocals, augmented by new takes from Messrs Moore, Gorham, and Downey. The version here is the same arrangement, but obviously missing the Lizzy magic.
Similarly, the same applies to Nineteen. Having been issued as a superb Paul Hardcastle-produced single shortly before his untimely passing, here it appears a rollicking band version, and still sounds great. Also here is Military Man, which saw the light of day when rerecorded as the flipside to Phil and Gary Moore‘s classic Out In The Fields single. Finally, there is also a Grand Slam version of Thin Lizzy‘s Sarah, though it is practically a carbon copy.
Musically the new tracks aren’t a million miles removed from Lizzy‘s farewell album Thunder and Lightning. In particular, Crazy is very much in the mold of the title track or Cold Sweat and really is a gem. Likewise, the fantastic laid-back blues of Crime Rate Is Going Up brings to mind the superb The Sun Goes Down from it too. Phil clearly still had plenty of fire left in his belly. The likes of I Don’t Need This and Look In These Eyes showcase a man still up for the fight. The material is of a decent standard throughout. No disrespect to Laurence Archer, but you can’t help but wonder how these songs would’ve sounded if his musical relationship with John Sykes had survived the Lizzy split the previous year.
The demo versions disc is quite an interesting listen to. All the tracks from the album appear in their original form, in addition to a few that never made it past this initial phase. There is a rather decent take on Whiter Shade of Pale and Like A Rolling Stone too. This disc is well worth a listen as it offers a glimpse into the great man’s writing process, and is of a surprisingly good quality.
The four discs of live material are also of decent quality. Though clearly bootlegs that have been brought to life through modern technology, they are all very listenable. However, there are times when songs cut out, probably due to the tape recorder in someone’s pocket having issues! It is great to hear Yellow Pearl (the old Top Of The Pops theme) brought to life as a powerful live track. The set lists on each feature plenty of solo and Grand Slam material, as well as a few Thin Lizzy crowd pleasures for good measure. The Grand Slam material is great live, though the Lizzy tracks do sound a bit cover-band-ish. Though, that’s probably me being a bit music snobby!
Overall, this is a fascinating glimpse into the period between Thin Lizzy and Out In The Fields and his sad demise. Whilst it is the work of a man in the latter stages of his life, it never sounds like someone winding down. Phil’s ability to paint pictures with lyrics was still in full effect. The over-riding feeling here is one of what could have been, had things turned out differently. Considering these songs have lain officially unreleased for nearly forty years, yet are still very very good in places is a testament to the legacy of a legend. Thirty-seven years after he left us, Phil Lynott’s music lives on, and will always do so.
One – 2022 Remixes
1 – Breakdown
2 – Crazy
3 – I Still Think Of You
4 – Crime Rate Is Going Up
5 – Dedication
6 – Military Man
7 – Look In These Eyes
8 – Harlem
9 – I Don’t Need This
10 – Sisters Of Mercy
11 – Nineteen
12 – Hot N Spicy
13 – Sarah
Two – Live in Orebro 1983
Three – Live In Lifford 1984
Four – Live In London 1984
Five – Live In Great Yarmouth 1984
Six – Demos
Release Date: 9th June 2023
Label: Cleopatra Records