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INSANE 70s ‘War of the Worlds’ prog opera with Richard Burton & members of Thin Lizzy & Moody Blues

In the course of decades of obsessive crate-digging, I’ve turned up plenty of oddities. Most of them stay in the bins, but there will always be things too weird or wonderful to resist. But a really good dig is one which results in me exclaiming aloud in the store, to no one in particular, “HOLY SHIT WHAT IS THIS AND HOW HAVE I NEVER HEARD OF IT BEFORE?”

A couple weeks ago, that record was Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of the War of the Worlds—apparently a massive phenomenon in the UK and Australia (live productions and tours are frequent and extremely popular), but it’s arcana for the connoisseur in the US, where its initial 1978 pressing and its few subsequent reissues all failed to chart. Wayne was the son of a theatrical producer, and had scored his father’s production of A Tale of Two Cities in 1966. In 1973, after a career of composing music for TV ads, he distinguished himself in the rock world by producing and playing keyboards on David Essex’s unkillable beast Rock On, meaning we owe Mr. Wayne indirect thanks for that great Patton Oswalt bit about blowing Michael Damian behind the Tilt-A-Whirl at the state fair. Wayne was able to parlay that massive success into the rights to create a War of the Worlds concept album and interest from CBS Records in funding and releasing the massively ambitious (not to say BLOATED, no sir, nuh uh) project.

The result was a double LP of slick lite-prog laced with disco’s rhythmic tropes, featuring the voices of Sir Richard Burton, Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott, The Moody Blues’ Justin Hayward, and—surprise!—David Essex, adapting H.G. Wells’ novel for narration and song. Other notables in the credits include guitar ace and Sex Pistols demo producer Chris Spedding, and musical theater vet Julie Covington, an alum of Godspell, The Rocky Horror Show, and the first singer to record “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina.” The album comes packaged in a gatefold with a book containing the complete script and some awesome paintings, mostly by noted Lord of the Rings cover artist Geoff Taylor, a few of which we’ll gladly share. Clicking spawns an enlargement.

More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Morrissey vs. Phil Lynott is not as exciting as it sounds
12:32 pm

Pop Culture

Phil Lynott

The individual components to this TV show promised more than was delivered. The fact Phil Lynott and Morrissey were part of the two teams taking part in this Pop Quiz, would whet any appetite, but sadly the result is as bland and anodyne as the show’s host, Mike Read.

You may have heard of Read before, he was the BBC Radio One DJ behind the banning of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s single “Relax.”

While treating his listeners to a performance of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s thumping dance single “Relax,” Read idly scanned the record sleeve and began to read the lyrics to the song, which had been steadily climbing the charts.

Then, mid-broadcast, he lifted the needle, denounced the content as “obscene” and refused to play it again. The rest of the BBC followed suit, banning the song, with its veiled reference to gay sex, from all TV and radio airplay, with the curious exception of the top 40 show.

Within a fortnight the song had rocketed to number one, where it nested for four weeks. (As if to rub the Beeb’s nose in it, a few months later “Relax” returned to the charts, reaching number two.)

“Relax” eventually reached Number One on 24th January, 1984, and was the beginning of an incredibly successful year for Frankie Goes To Hollywood. The ban made the BBC and especially Read look prissy, out-of-touch and utterly ridiculous. With this in mind, one has to question why the Beeb thought Mike Read a suitable host for their Saturday tea-time entertainment show Pop Quiz? As anything the poor man touched was automatically rendered vapid, bland and unrelentingly dull.

Poor Phil Lynott, who looks here like a doorman for some low-rent strip club, tries his best to jolly things along, but is given little to no help by his fellow team members, some hairdressing experiment from Kajagoogoo, and a dull Derek Forbes from Simple Minds.

Morrissey, meanwhile, is teamed-up with aging glam rocker, Alvin Stardust (yes, the fellow who crooned “My Coo Ca Choo”) and Kim Wilde of “Kids in America” (Whoa!) fame. At first Morrissey looks almost keen (answering his early questions correctly) before the full horror of the show dawns on him. As he later told The Face magazine:

Pop Quiz was unbearable. I realized it was a terrible mistake the moment the cameras began to roll. … I just squirmed through the programme. I went back to my dressing room afterwards and virtually felt like breaking down, it had been so pointless. I felt I’d been gagged.”

I’m not sure Morrissey was gagged, but it is fair to say both he and Lynott were certainly under some sort of neutralizing presence that seems to emanate from Mr. Read. The only colorful thing about him is his tasteless shirt that looks like something Walt Disney puked up.

Now you know what made for popular television in Britain back in 1984.

Part deux of le quiz de pop, apres le saut…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott, Ireland’s greatest rocker, died today in 1986
07:48 pm


Phil Lynott
Thin Lizzy

Thin Lizzy frontman, Phil Lynott died today, 4th of January in 1986. He was just 36 years old.

Lynott had collapsed at his home after a drink and drug binge on Christmas Day. He was suffering from a serious liver and kidney infection and died eleven days later from heart-failure and pneumonia.

It was a sad end to a man who had entertained and inspired millions. Lynott was all about a good time, it’s there in his music and in the way he lived his life. At his best, his music was simple, working class rock and roll. He was also an inspiration: born and raise in difficult times, a black man in predominantly white Dublin, raised by his grandmother while his mother worked three jobs in England to support the family back home.

Lynott originally wanted to be an architect, but poor, working class lads from housing schemes aren’t allowed to be architects. Instead he was offered a job as an apprentice fitter and turner. It was a dead end job, not a future for an ambitious talent like Lynott. He gave it up for his main passion—music.

Phil first came to prominence as the good-looking singer with the Black Eagles. He then moved onto Skid Row (which later featured guitarist Gary Moore). When Phil took time out to have his tonsils removed, he was replaced as lead singer; it was only then that Lynott went on to form Thin Lizzy with Brian Downey and Eric Bell.

Fortune smiled on Phil, as when sailing from Dublin to England, he met John Peel on board the ship and told him about Thin Lizzy. Peel told him to keep in touch. It was the kind of good luck born from years of hard work that would bring Thin Lizzy massive popular success.

The Rocker: A Portrait of Phil Lynott explains why this great man was such a charismatic and inspirational figure, with a history of all his bands, and various clips from early home movies, along with excellent interview clips, this is a fitting tribute to Ireland’s greatest Rocker.

Bonus: Audio of Thin Lizzy in concert, Berlin 1973, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Roy Wood & Phil Lynott: As probably the Greatest Pub Rock Band in the World?

It’s Roy Wood’s birthday and to celebrate here’s a little curio from 1983 of probably the greatest pub rock band in the world, The Rockers.

The Rockers consisted of Roy Wood, Phil Lynott, Bev Bevan and er, Chas Hodges from Cockney knees-up duo Chas ‘n’ Dave. They released one single “We Are the Boys (Who Make All the Noise)” this time with Status Quo’s John Coghlan on drums. Here, that number tops and tails a fine medley of Rock ‘n’ Roll standards as performed on O.T.T. - the late-night version of kid’s Saturday morning classic Tiswas, both of which were hosted by Chris (Who Wants to be a Millionaire?) Tarrant.

(A quick aside: As also noted by m’colleague Marc Campbell, last month Phil Lynott’s mother strongly objected to Republican ticket Romney and Ryan using Thin Lizzy’s song “The Boys Are Back In Town” as their ‘theme tune’, saying Phil would have been against their sexist, anti-gay and pro-rich policies, and would have voted for Obama anyway.)

Meantime, a very Happy Birthday to Roy Wood!

Previously on Dangerous Minds

Roy Wood: The talent behind The Move and Wizzard

The rocker, the legend: The Phil Lynott Story


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Paul Ryan, Phil Lynott’s on the phone and he wants his mojo back

“Phil? Is that you? Crazy? Not me. No way.”
On the second night of the Republican Convention, Vice Presidential hopeful Paul Ryan stepped up to the podium as Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town” played in the background and a crowd of pale-skinned squares, who wouldn’t know the difference between Thin Lizzy and a highball glass of Gin Fizz, roared with lemming-like approval.

Is the anti-drug, devout Catholic and ultra-conservative Ryan aware that Thin Lizzy’s frontman Phil Lynott, who described himself as a “black Paddy bastard,” was an alcoholic and heroin addict who died as a result of his booze and drug excesses?

If Lynott were alive today, I wonder what he would think of the irony of the uber-uptight and desperately unhip Ryan glomming onto the legacy of one of rock’s epic bad boys?  Probably wouldn’t give two shits about the image thing but might have a big problem with his song being used to rally the right-wing masses.

And you gotta question what Ryan and his fellow Republican asswipes were thinking when they chose to use “The Boys Are Back In Town” as Ryan’s intro in the first place. Did they even bother to listen to the fucking lyrics of the song? They were the truest words spoken all night.

Guess who just got back today?
Them wild-eyed boys that had been away
Haven’t changed, haven’t much to say
But man, I still think them cats are crazy

Paul Ryan may try to come off as some kind of rock and roll candidate, but the dude is to rock and roll what white wine is to whiskey.

By the way, I’m pretty sure the RNC version of the “The Boys Are Back In town” was performed by the wretched G.E. Smith Band, who are serving as the Republican’s house band this year. You may remember Smith as the leering neanderthal guitarist who had a gig on Saturday Night Live for a few years and was briefly a sideman to Bob Dylan. Lately, when he’s not electrifying crowds of mouthbreathing conventioneers, he gigs with the utterly irrelevant Hot Tuna on the jamband circuit.


Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
War of the Worlds: The Rock Opera

This is a post from our guest-blogger, Peter Choyce of KXLU radio in Los Angeles

I’m surprised how few people nowadays (well, Americans anyway) have heard the ROCK OPERA version of War of the Worlds. The timeless classic, penned by HG Wells over a century ago and adapted by Orson Welles into a radio play in the late 1930s that drove people on the east coast bonkers, also enjoyed a life on vinyl, double vinyl, even, before becoming a musical play.

Orchestrated by Jeff Wayne (Not ELO’s Jeff LYNNE as I once thought) the piece has its base in prog rock stylings but with a classical string section, too. Recorded in 1977 and released in ‘78, the album boasts such talents of the day as Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues, David Essex, Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott, and even featured a deep-throated narration by Richard Burton.

The lyrics are by Gary Osborne (who wrote a lot for Sir Elton) and lets not forget to mention contributions from Chris Spedding, Manfred Mann’s Chris Thompson and Evita’s Julie Covington as the damsel in distress.

AOR radio stations in the US played the single from the LP, “Forever Autumn,” back in the day and rotated it respectably like it was a new single from the Moody Blues. Hayward’s number was pleasant enough but it was really the anomaly, having little to do with the album’s narrative and deep, haunting theme. “The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one…but still, THEY COME!” was heard all over the LP but was not part of the “pretty” song—the only song anyone here really remembers.

However, the LP sold hundreds of thousands of copies in other countries and spend a mighty 290 weeks in the UK top 100, a feat surpassed only by Dark Side of the Moon. It had a snazzy booklet with artworks by Peter Goodfellow and others that propelled the story along. I ripped the book apart so I could hang the pictures of the aliens on my wall in my teenage room.

David Essex, best—and perhaps only—known stateside for his “Rock On” hit, does a good job acting in the dramatic scenes and also sings lead on many of the tracks. Essex has always been popular in his homeland, a one-time member of the Royal Opera who recorded a number of pretty cool records that never really made it out of the UK. Most of the songs clock in at more than eight mins. All good prog rock need to take their time ‘specially when there is so much going on with the whole world to burn up and conquer before ultimately succumbing to Earth’s atmosphere and dying oh-so-ignominiously.

Perhaps the best part of the record is how the Martians are embedded into the score. Using a decidedly Wagnerian technique, they appear as leitmotifs, which in this case are synthesized repetitions of key sounds. Their musical voice is anguished and misunderstood. The arrangement is real spooky and way scarier than that old radio broadcast that allegedly drove a few gullible New Jersyites to suicide.

Like Tommy and Jesus Christ Superstar before it, in 2006, War of the Worlds was turned into a live musical spectacular that has toured the world, and also a video game. An updated release will surface later this month under the title War of the Worlds “The New Generation” with a couple of new songs, more attention paid to the script and Liam Neeson taking over for Richard Burton as the narrator/journalist.

For now I encourage you to clicky the linky below. You’ll be glad you did.  It’s the original LP from 1978 in its entirety.  The whole thing.  Quite scrumptious.

This is a post from our guest-blogger, Peter Choyce of KXLU radio in Los Angeles

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
When a 70-year-old Grandmother played keyboards with Thin Lizzy

If you ever needed another reason to love dear Phil Lynott then just watch this short clip from Jim’ll Fix It - Jimmy Savile’s classic dreams-come-true TV series - from 1982, in which 70-year-old grandmother, May Booker wrote to Sir Jim asking if he could fix it for her to play keyboards with her favorite band - Thin Lizzy. And you can guess what happened next.

May is rather good, and she has a fun time with Phil - who is such a delightful charmer.

With thanks to Tara McGinley

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Pop Quiz’ with Phil Lynott versus Morrissey, 1984

Here’s a little curio from the BBC’s back catalog, an episode of the early 80s pop music quiz show “Pop Quiz’, featuring Morrissey and Phil Lynnot on opposing teams, presided over by uber-cheesey radio DJ Mike Reid (I’m loving his shirt). Phillo seems quite relaxed and in good spirits on this program, while unfortunately the same cannot be said for Steven Patrick “Life Of The Party” Morrissey. From the Slicing Up Eyeballs blog:

In an interview with The Face published in July 1984, Moz said, “‘Pop Quiz’ was unbearable. I realized it was a terrible mistake the moment the cameras began to roll. … I just squirmed through the program. I went back to my dressing room afterwards and virtually felt like breaking down, it had been so pointless. I felt I’d been gagged.”

Oh dear. Life is just so fucking hard for poor old squirming Moz. 
Pop Quiz, featuring Phil Lynnot, Morrissey & Kim Wilde pt 1:

After the jump Pop Quiz, featuring Phil Lynnot, Morrissey & Kim Wilde, pt 2…

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Phil Lynott: A ‘treasure trove’ of 700 Thin Lizzy songs to be released
06:49 pm

Pop Culture

Phil Lynott
Thin Lizzy

Twenty-six years ago today, Ireland’s greatest rock star Phil Lynott died. The singer passed away from heart failure and pneumonia after an ‘11 day fight for his life’, at the Salisbury Hospital in Wiltshire, England.

It was a sad day. But this year it can be commemorated with the incredible news that a “treasure trove” of 700 songs, stashed away by Lynott, will be released in June year. The Belfast Telegraph reports:

Shortly before he passed away in 1986, Mr Lynott gave 150 tapes to a third party for safekeeping. The cache of up to 700 songs has finally been released to record company Universal Music.

“This is an absolutely stunning find,” Steve Hammonds, project manager behind the new Thin Lizzy box set, told the Irish Independent.

“In every group there’s a member who lovingly collects their recordings and in Thin Lizzy that was Phil Lynott, because Lizzy was his baby and his band.”

It will be the second boxed set in recent times to feature archive work by the band, following last year’s ‘Live At The BBC’ release.

But the newly unearthed recordings stretch from Thin Lizzy’s years with Decca Records, beginning in 1971, to their ‘Renegade’ album in 1981.

“There are out-takes, unheard versions of Thin Lizzy hits and, most exciting of all, material which was recorded but never released at the time,” said Mr Hammonds.

“Phil Lynott was such a prolific songwriter. He recorded 12 Thin Lizzy albums, two solo albums, along with his Grand Slam post-Lizzy project, and now we find he had even more songs in his drawer.”

However, Thin Lizzy members Scott Gorham and Brian Downey will have the “final say” over which songs are released.

“The members of Thin Lizzy are fully involved with this project. We have been sending them tapes of what we’ve found and respecting their wishes as regards the material being issued and the art work,” added Mr Hammonds.

Label bosses have declined to give more details on why the material is only surfacing now, 30 years after Thin Lizzy split.

“Phil Lynott passed the material on to a third party for safekeeping. They held on to it for decades because they were waiting for the right people to come along.

“They really didn’t trust anyone enough to release it properly. The catalyst was a boxed set of Thin Lizzy BBC sessions we issued earlier this year, which made them believe we were the right people. No money has changed hands, this person is a Thin Lizzy fan.”

In memory of the great man, here’s Phil Lynott and his band Thin Lizzy Behind the Music

Previously on Dangerous Minds

The Rocker, the legend: The Phil Lynott Story

‘Bad Reputation’: Excellent Thin Lizzy Documentary

Thin Lizzy vs. The Pixies: The Boys Are Back in Heaven

Via Brooklyn Vegan

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The rocker, the legend: The Phil Lynott Story

Phil Lynott statue on Dublin’s Grafton St (toy monkey not included)

You’ll have seen the other Thin Lizzy posts that we’ve put up on DM by now, right? Big up to Paul and Marc for the Phil Lynott-loving that has been going on here - Lizzy are an under-appreciated band, who to my knowledge never really broke through in America. Of all the rock act Ireland has ever produced though, Thin Lizzy are by far the best, and most of that legacy rests with the cool, charismatic and incredibly talented Phil Lynott himself.

The Phil Lynott Story goes further than other Thin Lizzy-based docs to explore Lynott’s background, from his teenage mother’s escape from the work houses of wartime Northern England to Phil’s growing up as a black man in the vastly white1960s Dublin, and from his fledgling career as a psychedelic folk-rocker to his post-Lizzy years and his decent into heavy drug use and eventual, untimely death. It’s a fascinating story, packed to the gills with drama, drugs, scandal and lots of great music. It would make an amazing biopic, but who would play Phil?

This BBC-produced documentary is essential listening for anyone with a vague interest in rock’n'roll - you don’t need to be a fan to find this fascinating. But if you are a fan and don’t know the full story, be prepared to be amazed at some of the anecdotes and the background information supplied by Lynott’s incredible mother Philomena. Here’s a little bonus too - a video for the Lynott solo single “Old Town” (co-produced with Midge Ure and one of the greatest synth-pop tracks of all time IMO) with Phil strolling around early 80s Dublin and fooling around on his native Grafton St and Ha’Penny Bridge:

Phil Lynott - “Old Town”

The Phil Lynott Story Part 1

Parts 2-7 after the jump…

Previously on DM
‘Bad Reputation’ excellent Thin Lizzy documentary
Thin Lizzy: Live Rock Palast 1981

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
‘Bad Reputation’: Excellent Thin Lizzy documentary
07:21 pm


Phil Lynott
Thin Lizzy

Phil Lynott was Thin Lizzy. The talented, beautiful, iconic Irishman was the band’s heart and soul, and its demise in 1984, presaged Lynott’s early death on January 4th 1986 - fifteen years to the day Thin Lizzy started recording their first album.

Bad Reputation is an honest and affectionate documentary that tells the story Ireland’s greatest band. Starting with guitarist, Scott Gorham and drummer, Brian Downie remixing the classic Jailbreak album, the film quickly revisits the band’s early incarnation as The Black Eagles, Orphanage, and then Thin Lizzy, named after a character from the comic the Beano.

Produced and directed by Linda Brusasco, the film includes very rare footage of a young Phil at the start of his career, and includes revealing interviews with him through the highs and lows, together with interviews from nearly all of the key players, Brian Downie, Scott Gorham, Eric Bell, Brian Robertson, Midge Ure, Bob Geldof, and legendary record producer, Tony Visconti.

The reformed version of Thin Lizzy are currently touring, check here for details.

Previously on Dangerous Minds

Thin Lizzy: Live Rock Palast, 1981

The rest of ‘Thin Lizzy: Bad Reputation’, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Thin Lizzy: Live Rock Palast, 1981
07:20 pm


Phil Lynott
Thin Lizzy

Phil Lynott was always something special - a hugely loved and respected musician, an iconic figure who was “the original Dublin rock’n’roller and arguably a bigger natural star than any of those that followed in his footsteps.”

As The Philip Lynott Exhibition returns to Dublin, here is Phil leading his band Thin Lizzy through a sensational performance on Rock Palast, at Lorelei, Germany, in 1981.

Thin Lizzy:

Phil Lynott - Bass, Lead Vocals
Brian Downey - Drums
Scott Gorham - Guitar
Snowy White - Guitar
Darren Wharton - Keyboards

Track Listing:

01. “Are You Ready?”
02. “Genocide”
03. “Waiting For an Alibi”
04. “Jailbreak”
05. “Trouble Boys”
06. “Don’t Believe a Word”
07. “Memory Pain”
08. “Got To Give It Up”
09. “Chinatown”
10. “Hollywood”
11. “Cowboy Song”
12. “The Boys Are Back In Town”
13. “Suicide”
14. “Black Rose”
15. “Sugar Blues”
16. “Baby Drive Me Crazy”
17. “Rosalie”
18. “Disaster” (“Angel OF Death”)
19. “Emerald”

Previously on DM

Thin Lizzy vs. The Pixies - ‘The Boys Are Back In Heaven’


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment