Thin Lizzy

Vagabonds Kings Warriors Angels

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Thin Lizzy was a great band and Phil Lynott, the songwriter behind it, was a kind of visionary, pioneering a poetic, working-class aesthetic later echoed in his American counterpart, Bruce Springsteen, while also leading the group's various lineups through a staggering number of great guitarists, highlighted by the triple-attack of the Jailbreak era. That said, they're the kind of great band that, unless you're dedicated, is perhaps better heard in isolated bursts, such as the classic Jailbreak or the peerless compilation Dedication, which successfully summarizes the band in 70 minutes. Often, their albums fluctuated between greatness and puzzling idiosyncratic detours -- the kind of thing you cherish once you're a fan, but the kind of thing that prevents many from converting in the first place. Which is why Dedication is such a welcome entry in their catalog, but for those who want more, without getting actual albums, the 2001 four-disc box set Vagabonds Kings Warriors Angels is a good bet, since it does whittle down a fairly extensive discography into a fairly lean, yet generous 73 tracks. Apart from some album tracks from Jailbreak and Bad Reputation, there really aren't any truly great songs that didn't make it on Dedication, so this box will not provide revelations -- just other well-written, well-performed, eloquent hard rock, graced by Lynott's wonderfully unpredictable phrasing and consistently superb guitars. For collectors, there's a handful of rare tracks, usually from EPs and B-sides (the best of which is 1973 B-side "Cruising in the Lizzymobile," which is easily one of the greatest titles in rock), plus the requisite history and photographs. It does add up to a thorough, entertaining, and valuable history -- but probably not one necessary for those who already own all the albums; nor is it necessarily going to be satisfying for those already satiated by Jailbreak and Dedication, even if it does round up nearly all of the best of the rest of the albums.

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