If Thin Lizzy got a bit too grand and florid on Johnny the Fox, they quickly corrected themselves on its 1977 follow-up, Bad Reputation. Teaming up with legendary producer Tony Visconti, Thin Lizzy managed to pull off a nifty trick of sounding leaner and tougher than they did on Johnny, yet they also had a broader sonic palette. Much of this is due, of course, to Visconti, who always had a flair for subtle dramatics that never called attention to themselves, and he puts this to use in dramatic effect here, to the extent that Lizzy sound stripped down to their bare bones, even when they have horns pushing them forward on "Dancing in the Moonlight" or when overdubbed vocals pile up on the title track. Of course, they were stripped down to a trio for most of this record: guitarist Brian Robertson (who'd injured his hand) had to sit out on most of the recording, but Scott Gorham's double duty makes his absence unnoticeable. Plus, this is pure visceral rock & roll, the hardest and heaviest that Thin Lizzy ever made, living up to the promise of the title track. And, as always, a lot of this has to do with Phil Lynott's writing, which is in top form whether he's romanticizing "Soldiers of Fortune" or heading down the "Opium Trail." It adds up to an album that rivals Jailbreak as their best studio album.
Bad Reputation Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine