Charged by the creative force of the late Phil Lynott, the legendary Irish hard-rock band Thin Lizzy combined working class romanticism and Irish folk law with piercing dual-guitar lines. Like artists such as Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, Lynott was a poet of the downtrodden who helped break down racial stereotypes in rock and became one of the most influential front men in hard rock and heavy metal.
1972's Shades Of A Blue Orphanage is Thin Lizzy's second full-length recording named in homage to the members' former groups (Eric Bell's Shades of Blue and Lynott and Brian Downey's Orphanage). 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. “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 are famous. “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.
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.”