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No business like show business

Online incarnation of the Classic Rock magazine has a writeup on that desperate time in Thin Lizzy history when they had to resort to recording covers anonymously to make the ends meet. An album called Funky Junction play a tribute to Deep Purple was the result.

The band were desperate to do something that might finally bring in some income, so they accepted £1,000 to record an album of Deep Purple covers for Stereo Gold Award, an imprint set up by budget label entrepreneur David L. Miller, whose cheaply recorded 101 Strings compilations still clutter charity shops 60 years on.

Miller had developed a business model that was as ruthless as it was efficient, hiring up-and-coming musicians to re-record popular songs and releasing them as albums an unwary shopper might think was original material. Typical was an album of Jimi Hendrix songs credited to “The Purple Fox.” As Miller himself once proclaimed, “We are not in the recording business, we are in the plastics business.”

Continue reading in Louder Sound.

Be sure check out THS special on the album that we did back in the day when dinosaurs roamed the ‘net.

Thanks to Gary Poronovich for the info.



9 Comments to “No business like show business”:

  1. 1
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Make no mistake, those Purple covers were awful, I remember buying the album on a flea market (fully knowing it wasn’t Purple) out of completist cusiosity. If anything it served the purpose of showing that Purple’s music – not the most sophisticated and elaborate conglomerate of notes on earth, no one would mistake them with Gentle Giant – was at all times hugely elevated by the excellence of the musicians performing it. The Lizzy guys, forgive me all your Lizzy diehards, were pretty much hopeless back then playing that stuff (in fairness: it was a rush job too). And Lynott – another rock baritone and as baritone as they come – couldn’t sing any of the Purple stuff because it was completely out of his (very limited) range. Lizzy’s music was slyly composed and arranged to accomodate his vocal limits and in the right environment he could really shine with his voice.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eB-cX20wsWA

    Every two decades or so I give that Funky Junction/Rock Machine album another curiosity spin – it never fails to disappoint. Even Warhorse is better.

  2. 2
    Ivica says:

    Well done …. song “Emmaretta” (“Johnny The Fox”):) joke, joke
    Great TL (unrepentant Philo)…. after DP, with Wisbone Ash my favorite band

  3. 3
    Buttockss says:

    A song for while i’m away is one of the most favorite documentary’s i have ever seen. Very well done on Phil.

  4. 4
    Scott W says:

    There was a reason Richie and Ian tried to form baby face with him because he was great ! Along with the purple family, Lizzy are one of my favorite bands!

  5. 5
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Scott, even Ian Paice has said that during the sessions with Phil it became painfully apparent that his bass skills were insufficient. The Purple guys came from a line of experienced, fluid bass players such as Nick and Roger, Phil had only just begun playing bass, swapping from rhythm guitar.

    And to this day I wonder how the songwriting should have worked. Blackmore has never before or after worked with a low baritone like Phil, he would have needed to adjust quite a bit.

    Ritchie had something like Cream II in mind: world class drummer and guitarist meet world class bassist with huge range who looks a bit like Jimi Hendrix to boot. Well, in truth, Phil was never a world class bassist (even in later years, as he would himself admit) and he had no Jack Bruce range either. Funky Junction is a testament to that, the bass is abysmal on these recordings (just listen to his out-of-tune-and-rhythm car accident of a bass solo on the Fireball cover) and not a single Purple cover was in his range, hence the need for another singer.

    That’s not knocking Phil. He was a gifted songwriter and storyteller and he reigned supreme in the Lizzy realm. In fact, he was more a songwriter and a storyteller than perhaps a hard rock bassist and hard rock singer. I remember an interview with him in the NME around the time when Lizzy began cracking America where the journalist put to Phil that his songwriting reminded him of Bruce Springsteen. To which Phil replied: “I take that as a compliment, I think he’s great.”

  6. 6
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Ivica @2: I never noticed this until now, but you’re right Emmaretta and Johnny the Fox have rhythmic/riff’mic similarities!

  7. 7
    Scott W says:

    Uwe,
    I remember Ian Paice saying that his bass playing left a lot to be desired at that point in his career. Tell you the truth Phil is one of my favorite bass players. Great prominent Sound. just listen to renegade! Excellent Bass line. My top three favorite bassists would be:
    Chris Squire, Geezer, Lynott. Glover and Hughes next.

  8. 8
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Scott Gorham once said that Phil strummed his bass like a rhythm guitar and I’m not denying how that gave him a sound of his own. His bass was also always well up in the mix – what’s not to like?!

    For Lizzy’s intents and purposes, Phil’s bass playing was perfectly adequate. I don’t rate him as a force of nature like Glenn Hughes or Jim Lea though nor did he have the sense of melody of a Martin Turner. But I know actually quite a few bassists that like his style which is fine.

    My judgement of Lizzy is perhaps forever tainted by the fact that I saw their last gig ever – in Nürnberg. By then, raging addictions of Lynott and Gorham had turned them live into a train wreck and Coverdale (Whitesnake – in the guise of the early Powell line-up – played there too) was already poaching Sykes like some starved vulture. Brian Robertson (also there with Motörhead) even joined them for a couple of songs, but he looked as unhappy with them as he had with Motörhead (where he was grotesquely out of place). The whole gig was a sorry affair – they were done with.

  9. 9
    GAVIN MOFFAT says:

    Aged 14, a group of us set fire to this album after a short ceremony of dismemberment.
    I swear, if I could have stuck it back together, and managed to rotate it under a needle, it would have sounded better than before.
    A Woolworths bargain bin purchase … That says it all. 😀

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