Shades of a Blue Orphanage
"Thin Lizzy's second album is a nod to the past: Shades of Blue and Orphanage were former outfits of two of the band's members, their names combined to create an oddly evocative image -- especially when combined with a sepia-tinted image cover of three small, shoeless children intended to represent vocalist Phil Lynott, guitarist Eric Bell, and drummer Brian Downey. Looking back is a common theme of the LP. The soft, sensitive 'Sarah' was written for Phil Lynott's grandmother who raised him in lieu of his absent mother. It's an album that challenges your perceptions about a group you think you have nailed down through future singles 'Jailbreak,' 'The Boys Are Back in Town,' and 'Whisky in the Jar.' Here, 'I Don't Want to Forget How to Jive' sees the band try their hand at rockabilly, and 'Chatting Today' evokes the emotive performances of Richie Havens. As a whole, Shades of a Blue Orphanage presents a version of the band that places its foundations beyond the hard rock for which the group is famous. The preposterously titled 'The Rise and Dear Demise of the Funky Nomadic Tribes,' which opens the LP, epitomizes this, including tribal beats, funky guitars, and Lynott singing in full soul-power mode. It's begging to be sampled, like the group's contemporary -- but incognito -- work as Funky Junction, under which name they released Funky Junction Play A Tribute To Deep Purple the same year. Those who prefer Thin Lizzy in more recognizable form will find things to love, too: 'Buffalo Gal' is as restrained as a song with an insistent, descending riff could ever be, and 'Call the Police' is a bluesy swagger that shows off Lynott's talent for describing life on the gritty streets of the Republic of Ireland's much-romanticized capital city. The record culminates in the world-weary title track with a chorus that cuts straight to the bone: 'It's true blue, Irish blue.' Released in 1972, just three years after the band formed in Dublin, it's fair to say that Shades of a Blue Orphanage represents a group on the move, still finding their feet, and possibly bending to the will of a record label who didn't quite know what to do with a multiracial, multi-faith rock band from a sectarian country. Sales of their debut album, Thin Lizzy, had been poor, and Shades of a Blue Orphanage wasn't the one to turn their fortunes around. Still, it's fascinating listening for even those with a passing interest in their history." Pressed on 180-gram vinyl.