For the week of 4/22/2013…

“Sweet Marie” by Thin Lizzy

This might be my favorite of Thin Lizzy’s ballads, which for me puts it up there as one of the best ballads of the ’70s.  “Sweet Marie” is a simply gorgeous love song, slotted towards the end of Johnny the Fox.  That album was their second of 1976, rushed to release in order to capitalize on the commercial breakthrough earlier that year of Jailbreak.  Some things about the album suggest a rush job, to be sure, like the inclusion of “Boogie Woogie Dance,” a rare complete dud.  But there are a lot of great songs on the LP, and, on those, Phil Lynott’s pure poetry and the rest of the band’s exceptional musicianship belie the idea that Johnny the Fox was a rush job created just to sell as many units as possible in 1976.  Indeed, everything about “Sweet Marie,” for example, suggests careful attention to craft:  Lynott’s lyrics, an achingly beautiful solo from Scott Gorham, and the enrapturing textures resulting from the whispered background vocals, the languid guitar parts, the subtle Eastern touches, and the perfect orchestral arrangements.  It’s an underrated song on an underrated album.

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