MARTIN POPOFF – The Sun Goes Down: Thin Lizzy’s Final Years

MARTIN POPOFF – The Sun Goes Down: Thin Lizzy’s Final Years

As much as I love and cherish "From Dublin to Jailbreak: Thin Lizzy 1969-1976" in that it provides an excellent insight into Thin Lizzy’s often-overlooked first few years and records (not to mention that it is expertly researched and well-written), "The Sun Goes Down: the Final Years", which is the second and final installment in the Thin Lizzy chronicle by the talented Martin Popoff, exudes just a tad more depth and love for the subject matter compared to its predecessor. In short, this book is a must-have if you are a fan or admirer of the legendary act, and it is a treat to see Popoff being so appreciative of (and devoted to) the study of Thin Lizzy’s recorded outputs, live activities, and all-around history spanning the years 1977-1983.

Whereas "From Dublin to Jailbreak" was arguably a tad more academic in places and offered a marginally more objective point of view on a lot of things Lizzy, "The Final Years" has a wonderfully subjective tone to it and you can easily tell that our skilled author is more passionate with respect to the song material from the latter phase of the band’s career as opposed to that of the Bell-era and the first few albums featuring the guitar-slinging duo that was Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson. Do not get me wrong, the "Thin Lizzy 1969-1976" opus is great piece of work and offers a clear and concise overview of the first half of the Irish legends’ rich band history, but there is a warmth and a charming personal touch to "The Final Years" that easily makes it my favorite of the two. I especially loved reading about Martin’s affinity for the criminally underrated masterpiece that is "Renegade" (1981) or the ensemble’s hard-hitting swan-song release, "Thunder and Lightning" (1983).

Popoff has conducted numerous interviews with past and present members of the renowned outfit over the years and the splendid thing about this 214-page thing of beauty is that it covers so many fascinating and thought-provoking aspects of Lizzy’s work post-"Johnny the Fox" (1976) in such a balanced manner. Everything flows together seamlessly and has a good pace and a solid rhythm to it, which also ensures that the story never turns stale, rigid, or worst of all, unimaginative and uninteresting. The very last paragraph of this marvelous piece of music literature literally left me in tears – it was just heartbreaking to read about Lynott’s demise and how everything seemed to unravel and go downhill from 1983 until January 1986. That specific part of Lizzy’s saga is something that one has read about a gazillion times before, but Popoff tells it with such style and grace, which is quite moving and heartfelt.

Another brilliant part of "The Final Years" is that it does not merely discuss and analyze Thin Lizzy up to and including 1983 (despite what its title may suggest or hint at). In fact, the pages devoted to Lynott’s Grand Slam project with the insanely talented Laurence Archer (UFO, Wild Horses) and Mark Stanway (Magnum) as well as Brian Robertson’s short tenure with Motorhead and the gem that is "Another Perfect Day" are among the best and most compelling parts of Martin’s study.

Do I have any gripes with this book? No, not really, although I would have loved two extra chapters; one that would revolve around the Scott Gorham/John Sykes-fronted incarnation of the group (1996-2009) and one that would have touched on the glorious Warwick-era (2010 – present day). That would have made me very happy, but again, this is a remarkable and elegantly written piece on one of the greatest (hard) rock bands of all time and it perfectly encapsulates the vibe of the late 70s/early 80s rock music milieu not to mention that it captures the essence of what Thin Lizzy were (and are) all about. Definitely a book that you do not want to miss out on, so if you are looking for something to read during your summer holiday, I strongly suggest you head on over to the Wymer Publishing website or Amazon and order a copy of it.

PS: You can read my review of "From Dublin to Jailbreak: Thin Lizzy 1969-1976" here: