Black Rose: A Rock Legend review by Thin Lizzy

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Released: Apr 13, 1979
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 8.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 9 (9 votes)
Thin Lizzy: Black Rose: A Rock Legend

Sound — 9
In 1979, as "Black Rose" was being recorded, guitarist Brian Robertson had recently been replaced by the late, great Gary Moore. Gary had been working with band leader Phil Lynott on and off throughout the 70s, and by this time their relationship was getting particularly mature and productive. "Black Rose" is a rough, tough, mean rock album. Moore shreds like crazy, and Scott Gorham provides some nice melodic solos throughout. Brian Downey is just as brilliant as always (just listen to the funky "S&M" or his godlike drumming on the title track), his drums shining more than ever through the ckear and raw production. Phil and Scott were actually getting hooked on heroin in 1979, which would eventually lead to the band's demise, but they're still in top form on this album.

Lyrics — 7
The lyrics are your typical tales of life on the streets downtown, as you would expect from the somewhat predictable lyricist Lynott. Apparently, his spiritual side got its fill on the previous album "Bad Reputation", since this album is very down-to-earth. Topics include gambling ("Waiting For An Alibi"), addiction ("Got To Give It Up"), self-assertion ("Get Out Of Here"), and Lynott delivers it all with enough conviction. But his tender side also gets a say in the heartfelt Sarah, about his daughter, and his interest in Celtic mythology is shown once again in the title track.

Overall Impression — 10
In my opinion, this is one of the most significant hard rock albums ever released. It's got it all; the tough-guy lyrics, the meaty in-your-face production, and a guitar hero at his very best. Gary Moore almost sounds possessed by his Les Paul, and his performance on the title track (the instrumental mid-section is filled with references to old Irish and American folk songs) is absolutely unique and essential listening for ALL guitarists. His jazzy playing on the adorable Sarah is another highlight. Phil Lynott considered Moore to be the greatest rock guitarist ever, and it seems like the feelings were mutual. Together, they took each other to the very pinnacle of hard rock. If you're new to Thin Lizzy, then save the more famous classics such as "Jailbreak" and "Live & Dangerous" for later. This is the place to start.

10 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Their best studio album, if you ask me. Still Dangerous is probably my favourite record by them, but it's live. Nice review.
    Anyway, I may be getting the sleeve of this as a tattoo on my left shoulder in a while. Just ****ing love this record.
    Deathhead93 wrote: Anyway, I may be getting the sleeve of this as a tattoo on my left shoulder in a while. Just ****ing love this record.
    Axl Rose has the rose tattooed on his right shoulder, looks pretty good. Lizzy's best all round album in my opinion, tbh its unfortunate Phil and Gary fell out so much, if he'd been in the classic lineup instead of Robbo I reckon they'd have been even better.
    First time I listened to Thin Lizzy, I didn't like it much. I thought it was bland compared to the other acts of the genre. But your review made me want to try this one, and it's just amazingly tasty !
    I have this album cover tattooed on my left arm. R.I.P Phil Lynott, and Gary Moore.
    Got to give it up is one of the best hard rock songs ever. Very good album... all of their albums have at least a few really great songs, but not much more than a few, with the exception of this album, which has consistently strong songs and is therefore their best studio album. Live and dangerous is their best album by far though with all of their best stuff in one place and the playing is spectacular (even if they doctored the playing ala Kiss alive!)
    This was my first Thin Lizzy record back in 1980 or so and still my favorite. I love most of their stuff but this one with Gary Moore has a special place for me. When I need a pick me up, the track "With Love" always does it for me. Where the guitar work on the title track is just tremendous, there is something about Gary's lead on "With Love" that goes to my core. Great album!
    One of the last great Lizzy albums for me. Even though some people prefer the last couple albums because they had hired help in John Sykes and saw the band with a metal edge. I prefer the Black Rose with its tough streetwise, cynical and raw vibe to it. I'd recommend it to any Lizzy fan