Friday 11 February 2011

Whiskey In The Jar

It was inevitable that this would eventually be posted in the Friday night tipple section.

I'm not a big fan of Irish Whiskey, I prefer the subtle,  smoother peaty Islay malts or even Black Bottle but I would still sooner have it than the American stuff.

I don't think that Gary Moore played on this but tonight I will raise a glass and play Parisienne Walkways to one of the finest guitarists it has been my pleasure to see play live, albeit a long time ago. Go easy Gary.

Have a good weekend people

Thin Lizzy - Whiskey In The Jar (Peel Session)


davyh said...

Well I've never heard an Islay malt described as subtle and smooth you old tiger, but possibly you are being ironic (NB: I *heart* Islay malts).

This'll be one for Mrs H - a Tin Lizzy fan of old.


dickvandyke said...

Ahh Drew. I hoped you'd succumb to this classic combination.

Comment part 1 ...

There is a correlation betwixt Stuart Adamson/Big Country and Thin Lizzy. This article was linked to a Garry Moore tribute I read earlier this week. Forgive my presumptiousness, but I think you may enjoy the read.

Amazing how many parallels exist between the two bands.

It was October 2000, and Big Country were preparing for another gig. They had been one of the biggest British bands of the 1980s, attracting a particularly ardent fanbase with their distinctively Celtic take on rock and their everyman image – at one point they were serious rivals to U2. But by the end of the next decade, tastes had changed and their leader, Stuart Adamson, had succumbed to depression and alcoholism. Bassist Tony Butler, who'd been around since the band recorded their first demos in his mother's kitchen, took the frontman to one side.

"I said: 'I'm not going to play with you while you're like this,'"
remembers Butler, a thoughtful, conscientious man. "We were becoming our own tribute group. I think he realised the depth of my feeling. That something that had meant so much to us was dissipating. I said, "Call me
when you're right.'" That night's gig proved to be Big Country's final show. "And that was unfortunately the last time I saw him," Butler says.

On 16 December 2001, Adamson hanged himself in a Hawaiian hotel. He was 43. The surviving members of Big Country have never talked about his death before. "It's still so raw," Butler says, alone in a dressing room beneath Newcastle Academy. He spends much of the interview in tears.

Despite what might have seemed to be an insuperable blow – Adamson,
to many, was more than Big Country's singer; he actually was Big Country – the band are packing out big venues once again, but with Adamson's place taken by Mike Peters, the singer from Big Country's contemporaries, the Alarm.

Big Country are not the only band to have lost their talisman who have decided to go back on the road. Thin Lizzy, the archetypal 1970s hard rock band, are playing the same-sized venues as in their heyday – last Saturday they sold out Hammersmith Apollo, where their classic album Live and Dangerous was recorded – despite not having recorded a note
in nearly 30 years. Lizzy had one of rock's most charismatic and
striking frontmen in Phil Lynott, who died in 1986, aged 36, and the
seemingly unenviable task of filling in for him falls to Ricky Warwick, formerly the singer of the Almighty.

What one might call "Frankenstein bands" – reassembled years after
their apparent demise with bits from other groups bolted on to replace those who have been lost – run the risk of being tawdry, cynical affairs. But, against all odds, Big Country and Thin Lizzy offer proof that it can be a life-affirming affair that paying tribute to the departed hero without becoming sentimental.

After Adamson's death, his bandmates couldn't listen to Big Country's music for years. When they did decide to revisit it, in 2007, a handful of live shows with Butler singing rapidly convinced them they had no future as a three-piece. Butler, who had left music and become a teacher, was particularly against the idea of "recreating former glories", but gradually came around to the idea of a celebration of what
they were and "remembrance of Stuart" for the band's 30th anniversary.


dickvandyke said...

PART 2 ..

Thin Lizzy were revived years before Big Country had even split. Scott Gorham – the guitarist who played alongside Lynott in the band from 1974 until they split in 1983 – is the driving force behind the current lineup (original drummer Brian Downey is in it, too), but was stung by accusations that Lizzy without Lynott was a joke. Now, however,he seems to have turned the fans around.

When Lizzy folded in 1984 – with Gorham and Lynott both addicted to
heroin – the guitarist felt he would never want to play their songs again. He formed new bands, and worked with different musicians. But, as the years passed, he became niggled that people were started to forget
about Thin Lizzy. When John Sykes –who had played guitar with Gorham
on the final Thin Lizzy album in 1983 – suggested reuniting in 1996,
Gorham agreed to contact Downey. "I was almost expecting Brian to say 'F*** that,'" Gorham recalls. "He said 'When do we start?'" And, Gorham admits: "Secretly, I wanted to play the songs again."

For Big Country, meanwhile, it quickly became apparent that Mike Peters would be a natural fit in the band. For a start, he had been close to Adamson – they had toured together, their bands shared many of the same fans, and after his friend's death he would occasionally play Big Country songs with the Alarm. He'd even once rehearsed with them – with Adamson's blessing – and sang the songs at a fanclub event after
Adamson died, which was "very emotional, like sticking your finger into a wound".

Peters, is irked that Adamson – one of the biggest rock stars of the 80s – has seemingly been forgotten. "I see magazines and think 'There's Joe Strummer, there's Led Zeppelin. Where's Stuart?'"

In his first band, the Skids, Adamson created the stark, echo-laden guitar sound that inspired The Edge's sound in U2. But while John Peel recognised "Britain's answer to Jimi Hendrix", Adamson's influence on bands from Manic Street Preachers to Kings of Leon usually goes unsung. Peters remembers him as a sensitive, honest, principled man from a mining community near Dunfermline, whose lyrics captured the struggles of ordinary working people. Towards the end of his life Adamson felt as if his work was being swept aside – by grunge, baggy and dance music - as Lynott had felt his had been a decade earlier, by punk and then synthesiser pop.


dickvandyke said...


"Phil was particularly crushed when Bob [Geldof] and Midge [Ure] didn't invite him to Live Aid," Gorham says – the blow must have been especially hard given that Ure, briefly and bafflingly, had been a member of Thin Lizzy. "But I don't blame them. He was in no fit shape."

Gorham offers "confidence issues" and the physical pain from years of
touring as the reasons he and Lynott sought refuge in heroin in 1979, but the drug didn't solve those problems. Instead, Gorham says, it robbed him of his ability to play. "That's another reason I wanted to do this, to show people that the last 3 years of Lizzy was the drugs playing, not me." He cleaned up; Lynott never could.

The guitarist last saw his bandmate three weeks before his death. "He looked terrible, shot. He was talking about getting the band back together. I'm thinking: 'You're not even close.' But when he said he'd quit, I believed him.

Bruce Watson, Big Country's 50-year-old guitarist, was not surprised when he received news of Adamson's death. "We'd spoken about his grandad, who'd committed suicide as well," he says. "The band were finished, he'd been through a divorce. The loss of his friend gets no easier, he says: "I miss him terribly.

Earlier this month, Big Country played in Dunfermline, a show attended by the singer's family and old friends. It was only Peters's second show as singer, and he says the room fell silent as he started singing. "But
then they realised it was done with the right intent, and the place went absolutely mad." Watson played with tears rolling down his face.

These gigs shouldn't work – at first, it can be hard not to be
preoccupied by what is absent rather than by what is present – but they pack a powerful emotional punch. When Lizzy play the mournful Still in Love With You with pictures of Lynott flashed up behind them there isn't a dry eye in the house. Gorham is sure Lynott would not have wanted live performance of his music to be lost. "He worked long hours and travelled thousands of miles get it to a certain level. There's no way he would have said 'No one should play those songs again.'"

And for Big Country's drummer, Mark Brzezicki, playing the old songs is a way to reconnect when all other means have gone. "When we play together [Adamson] is still here. I know he'd approve, because we're doing his life's work proud."

Big Country deliberately leave a hole centre stage where Adamson used to be, but Peters sings with sincerity and conviction. When he talks about the departed hero, a chant erupts of "Stuart! Stuart!"
A decade after his lonely death, his name is cheered to the rafters.

As we all grow older, even in the darkest hour of the darkest night, we awake to find their legacy.

Thank you, and goodnight.

John Medd said...

Never saw Phil but went to his tribute at The Point in Dublin (Jan 96) with Joe Elliott and the rest of his disciples. Fast forward to 2005 and I reviewed Thin Lizzy for the paper - Sykes sounded uncannily like Phil. Still, it wasn't the same without Mr. Lynott (even though Gorham replicated his studio solos note for note). Now I see they're back and are playing with the rather excellent Supersuckers; one of those gigs that I'd go for the support and slope off before the headliners came on I think.

planet mondo said...

Will be raising a glass to Gary tonight. I'm not a fan of the Islays - bit creasotey for me. As blends go....

A) Have you tried Bailie Nicol Jarvie

B) Have I asked that before?

drew said...

Thanks for that Dickie was definitely worth reading although a little spooky. Stiff and myself were having a conversation about Stuart Adamson and Big Country last Sunday on the way in to glasgow to see the Joy Formidable, he gave me Adamson's biography for christmas. I was saying that I couldn't see how Big Country could tour now as Adamson was Big Country and after seeing the pale imitation that the Skids were without him at T in the Park the other year (watched on tv) there was no way that either of us would go and see Big Country with some guy out of The Alarm.

As an example of Adamson's genius all you need to do is put on Circus Games, the guitar playing on that track makes me weep it's that good. When the Edge ever comes up with something like that then I may rate U2 then again they will still have that twat of a singer; maybe there isn't that much of a difference between them and the Skids after all.

drew said...

Mond - I have and it was rather good,

John - never heard of Supersuckers may have to investigate.