While Thin Lizzy's previous release, Black Rose, was a focused, inspired hard rock masterwork, its follow-up, 1980's Chinatown, was a letdown. Guitarist Gary Moore was a major reason for the predecessor's success, but he quit during the subsequent tour (eventually replaced by ex-Pink Floyd touring guitarist Snowy White). Also, leader Phil Lynott and guitarist Scott Gorham were indulging heavily in hard drugs by this point, which was obviously taking its toll. And since producer Tony Visconti was not on board again, the lively production that played such a prominent part in the success of their past few releases was noticeably absent. The first side contains the best material: the anthemic "We Will Be Strong," the pop perfection of "Sweetheart," the obviously autobiographical drug tale of "Sugar Blues," plus the British hit singles "Killer on the Loose" and the title track. The second side, however, is comprised almost entirely of bland filler, such as "Having a Good Time," "Didn't I," and "Hey You." While it's not their worst album (that "honor" would go to their next studio album, 1981's Renegade), Chinatown should have been a lot better, especially coming off such a stellar release as Black Rose.
AllMusic Review by Greg Prato