The Album - Thin Lizzy's "Chinatown," Warner BSK 3496; THE SHOW - Tuesday at 8 at the Ontario.
At last, a concept album for the addlepated. Thin Lizzy's new record, "Chinatown," os such a giggly boggler that it almost scratches that primal childhood itch to sneak a ride in the clothes dryer.
These are the same Irish rockers who put out "The Boys Are Back in Town" by 1976 and fooled people into thinking they were from Asbury Park, for about 20 minutes. But there's nothing derivative about this LP. Thin Lizzy has a unique ability to worry over the fate of the buffalo, dispense historical information on the Imperial Dragon-King write a first-person narrative about a "mad sexual rapist" and remind its audience that "While you listen the Third World starves," all without getting the slightest bit hung up on things like continuity.
Sure, the lyrics constitute criminal abuse of grammar, but these guys suffer no illisions about who listens to their music. They just aim their power chords straight for the gut -- the one filled with Big Macs and Pizza Doodles -- and let the stream-of-consciousness flow: It might be typical, topical or maybe tropical That doesn't mean anything If you're political, practical Then it's improbable, that you do anything But me and my buddies we like to go crazy
Lyricist/vocalist Philip Lynott takes words carved in stone ("this is my body, my blood, would you receive me?") and puts them in a politico-romantic setting. No problem. With equal ease and enthusiasm, he takes a lyric carved in rock ("I'll be standing in the shadows of love") and places it in the mouth of Jack the Ripper.
There's never a dearth of subject matter here, though the group does try to throw in the word "Chinatown" wherever it fits. Besides Jack the Ripper and the buffalo, they cover love, urban versus rural living, crime and what might be diabetes, or maybe drugs.
Musically, it's difficult to find anything to complain about on "Chinatown." The simple power chording, generously balanced with shrieking guitar solos, is loud and loose enough to clear any room of parents or pets. As hard rock goes, it's not Ted Nugent, but you won't hear it on an elevator anytime soon, either.
It's a shame that no musical hooks of the quality found on 1976's "Jailbreak" emerge on this album, although various forms of verbs meaning "kill" appear no fewer than 55 times, creating at least a verbal hook. But there's no reason to doubt that these tunes, particularly "Killer on the Loose" and "Genocide," will be bouncing off rec room walls for some time to come.
After tiring of the lyric sheet (if that's possible), one can flip over the inner sleeve for more philosophical ramblings and a credit list that reads like the acceptance speech of the giddiest Oscar-winner. The cover, fully explained on said sleeve, will knock your socks off.