Sound: In 1979, as "Black Rose" was being recorded, guitarist Brian Robertson had recently been replaced by the late, great Gary Moore.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. // 9
Lyrics: 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. // 7
Overall Impression: 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