Since leaving Thin Lizzy in 1978, Brian “The Boys Are Back in Town” Robertson has continued to crank out his singular brand of blues-based rock, most notably on his latest, Diamonds and Dirt, a collection of rockers that feature big tones, bigger riffs, and sexy solos. Despite his moving on from Lizzy decades ago, Robertson is still vexed by producer Tony Visconti’s suggestion that the tracks on Lizzy’s classic Live and Dangerous weren’t live at all. Here he sets the record straight, in true Robbo fashion.
It’s a persistent story in the music business that there’s not much live playing on Lizzy’s live record, and yet that’s not your recollection.
It’s not my recollection, it’s not Brian Downey’s recollection, and it’s not Scott Gorham’s recollection. This is down to Mr. Visconti. Let me get this straight because this is really starting to piss me off.
I didn’t mean it to be a hostile question.
I’m not being hostile towards you at all. The only person I’m being hostile to is Tony Visconti, who I hold in great esteem. I just don’t understand why he’s come out and said these things. He has said, “It’s 75 percent overdubs.” What the f**k drugs is he on? I’d like some of them. Think about this for one second and then you can make your own mind up. We’re playing live, the drums are all miked up, all the vocal mikes are open. We are a very loud band, me being the loudest out of all of us. So how are you going to replace my guitar when it’s so loud that it’s going to bleed all over the bloody drum kit? You can’t! It’s perfectly impossible. There’s no way, when Robbo’s using two Marshall 100s cranked up to ten, that it isn’t going to spill over to the drum tracks. This is why I don’t understand this bollocks that’s going on.
Here’s another point. When we were mixing Live and Dangerous, there was one take of “Still in Love with You” where my solo was just unbelievably brilliant. I’m not being a big head here, but when we heard that take I went, “That’s the one.” But Phil Lynott had left his phaser on and it was turned so fast that the bass was going “wow wow wow.” So why didn’t Tony Visconti just fix the bass track? Because he couldn’t overdub the bass. You know why? Because the bass stacks were next to the drums and the bass was bleeding all over the drum mikes and everything! There’s your answer right there. End of story, really. I’ll go to court with the guy over it.
Thin Lizzy’s Live and Dangerous
Did you do any overdubs?
I think the only thing we overdubbed was a couple of little licks on Scott’s guitar— because he played a lot quieter than I did— and a couple of backing vocals. I think Phil put one or two bass lines in and that was it. That is not 75 percent. Like I said, I don’t know what drugs the man is on but he’s talking absolute sh*t. I don’t understand why a producer of the caliber that Tony Visconti obviously is would stick by this story. But hey, I love the guy—he’s a great producer. I just think he needs to rethink his statements on this.