The Quality Street Gang were twenty-something year Jewish gangsters with their hands in the usual tills: drugs, prostitutions, shake downs. Everybody paid, and sure every pub and nightclub, paid. But they weren’t the American type of gangster: these were cool, good looking, guys dating models, hanging out with the Granada Television crowd: favorite sons.
And Lynott was born to romanticise the world around him. Raised on the mean streets of Dublin he formed his band Thin Lizzy from the remnants of Van Morrison’s band Them. But his vision was so Irish, full of blarny, he couldn’t view a situation without mythologizing it. Thin Lizzy’s first hit was the Irish standard “Whiskey In The Bottle”-all theft and lost love.
It took the band a little while to hit their stride -to mesh the secret place where Lynott’s deeply held romanticism and Eric Bell’s strident blues based riffs met- but certainly by 1975 they were moments away from widespread success and this is where Lynott, working from an addictive riff found his voice. “The Boys Are back In Town”. Even the quickest of listens will soon find just how unsavory the boys are. “The drink will flow and the blood will spill…” Lynott warns at one point, it is a vision of night life spiked with horror but it doesn’t scare Lynott: the perennial outsider (he even plays bass!) he is not involved the situation, he knows them, even likes them but he isn’t them.
The “boys” have been out of town for the winter and Lynott is speaking to a girl, a mutual friend, Lynott has run into the Quality Street gang and they want to know where she is, the two remember the boys previous hijinx. The next verse is a look forward to Friday’s night, the boys will be “dressed to kill,” there may be trouble (suddenly “spread the word around” has a double edge) but Lynott will be standing in the corner plugging money into the jukebox and watching the nights getting warner.
Phil did this better than anybody this side of Springsteen -it’s a criminal, sexy, dream of masculinity: it’s a vision of a world of heroes conquering women and killing men and it comes from the smallest of things -Lynott would do this over and over again; he would use the teenage insecurites of boys and turn them to daydreams of manhood and he would do it smart. A band like Led Zep were either ocksmen or fairy Kings but Phil was (or played) a street smart hoodlum, a charmer, an Irish rogue and never better than here.
worse than I remembered it being
a contender for the next Michael Jackson
the indie gorgeousness of mood and quiet desperation
smooth jazz and horns
Taylor was no longer my secret
punk blasts of energy
# 1 where Jack Harlow resides
ear candy trap