Bad Reputation (Thin Lizzy album)

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Bad Reputation
Thin Lizzy - Bad Reputation.jpg
Studio album by Thin Lizzy
Released 2 September 1977
Recorded May – June 1977 in Toronto
Length 35:50
Label Vertigo (UK, Canada)
Mercury (USA)
Producer Tony Visconti
Thin Lizzy chronology
Johnny the Fox
Bad Reputation
Live and Dangerous

Bad Reputation is the eighth studio album by the Irish band Thin Lizzy, released in 1977. As the front cover suggests, most of the tracks feature only three-quarters of the band, with guitarist Brian Robertson only credited on three tracks. He had missed most of their previous tour, following an injury sustained in a brawl,[1] and this album turned out to be his last studio effort with Thin Lizzy.


With Robertson out of the band, Lynott had decided that Scott Gorham would be able to handle all the guitar duties himself, and that no replacement for Robertson would be recruited prior to recording the album. However, Gorham believed that a second guitarist was required, particularly for live work, performing songs that were written for two guitars. He later said, "I was always a big believer in the magic circle – once you broke the magic circle, the whole thing was broken, right?"[2] He deliberately left two songs ("Opium Trail" and "Killer Without a Cause") without guitar solos recorded, and persuaded Lynott to allow Robertson to return to the band to record the solos for them. Lynott relented, and Robertson flew to Toronto and recorded his lead guitar parts. However, he initially refused to socialise with the other band members: "Christ, I wouldn't even have a drink with them," he said.[3] He later added, "I tried not to go out to clubs for about a week, then succumbed..."[4] Robertson and Gorham shared lead guitar parts on only one song, "That Woman's Gonna Break Your Heart."

Cover art[edit]

Thin Lizzy's usual cover artist, Jim Fitzpatrick, did not contribute to the cover of Bad Reputation, after a misunderstanding between himself and Lynott. With the deadline for the submission of the cover drawing near, Lynott travelled to the US to meet Fitzpatrick at his home in Madison, Connecticut, but went to Madison, Wisconsin by mistake. Unable to meet with Fitzpatrick in time, Lynott agreed to use an image by Sutton Cooper which featured the band as a trio, without Robertson.[3] A photo of the band including Robertson was used on the reverse. The interior artwork featured photos of all four members, plus photos from The Incredible Case of the Stack O'Wheat Murders by Les Krims, which Lynott had seen in New York.[1] The album also featured the playing card suit motifs that previously featured on the Fighting album in 1975, with the spade (Lynott), club (Downey), heart (Gorham) and diamond (Robertson).

Lynott insisted that Robertson would not appear on the front cover, with which Robertson "agreed entirely", although he did appear in a group photograph on the back cover. Robertson later said, "This was another of my little moods. I didn't want my picture on the album cover because I hadn't done any of the backing tracks, and I was even in a bad mood shooting for the back of it."[4]

Chart performance[edit]

Bad Reputation reached No. 4 in the UK Albums Chart.[5] The single "Dancing in the Moonlight (It's Caught Me in Its Spotlight)" reached No. 14 in the UK Singles Chart in September 1977.[6] The track should not be confused (although often it is) with a similarly titled song, "Dancing in the Moonlight"; recorded by King Harvest and Toploader, amongst others.[7]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars [8]

Hailing Bad Reputation as an improvement on the previous album, Johnny the Fox, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic described the album as "leaner and tougher" than its predecessor, partly due to the influence of producer Tony Visconti. He claimed that Robertson's absence was not noticeable due to Scott Gorham's "double duty", and that this was "pure visceral rock & roll, the hardest and heaviest that Thin Lizzy ever made". He considered Bad Reputation as a rival to Jailbreak as the band's best studio album.[8]

Released during the rise of punk rock music, and despite Thin Lizzy being a hard rock band, Bad Reputation saw the band appealing to many punks due to the band's "tuneful and musical approach" and with the "energy delivered both live and in the studio", ensuring a "youthful zest".[9] As such, the album has been described as the band "finding fresh fields to cultivate, not only musically but also in terms of their audience".[10]

Cover versions and other uses[edit]

Although it was not released as a single, the title track became a live staple. A cover version of the song is a playable track in the 2006 music video game Guitar Hero II, and the Thin Lizzy version was featured in the soundtrack of the 2001 documentary movie Dogtown and Z-Boys.

Foo Fighters covered "Bad Reputation" and released it on their covers album, Medium Rare. 24-7 Spyz also covered the song on their album Face the Day.

The Smashing Pumpkins covered "Dancing in the Moonlight (It's Caught Me in Its Spotlight)" for various live performances, turning the upbeat, overlaid melody of the original into a slowly paced acoustic tune.

British indie pop singer-songwriter Diana Vickers covered the song as the first of several covers used as teasers leading up to the release of her second studio album.

Swedish guitarist John Norum of Europe fame covered "Opium Trail" on his second solo album, Face the Truth (1992).

American all-girl heavy metal band Phantom Blue covered "Bad Reputation" on their 1993 sophomore album Built to Perform.

In 2012 the English indie rock band Alt-J released a cover of "Dancing in the Moonlight".

In 2012 video game Sleeping Dogs. "Bad Reputation" was featured on the in-game radio station Sagittarius FM.

In 2015 English speed metal band Raven covered "Bad Reputation" on their album of covers titled Party Killers. This album was only made available to backers of Raven's kickstarter for their album ExtermiNation, released in April 2015

In 2005, the Thin Lizzy version of Dancin' in the Moonlight was used as part of an advertising campaign to launch Magners Irish Cider in the UK.[11]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Phil Lynott except as indicated.

Side one[edit]

  1. "Soldier of Fortune" – 5:18
  2. "Bad Reputation" (Brian Downey, Scott Gorham, Lynott) – 3:09
  3. "Opium Trail" (Downey, Gorham, Lynott) – 3:58
  4. "Southbound" – 4:27

Side two[edit]

  1. "Dancing in the Moonlight (It's Caught Me in Its Spotlight)" – 3:26
  2. "Killer Without a Cause" (Gorham, Lynott) – 3:33
  3. "Downtown Sundown" – 4:08
  4. "That Woman's Gonna Break Your Heart" – 3:25
  5. "Dear Lord" (Gorham, Lynott) – 4:26


  • "Dancing in the Moonlight (It's Caught Me in Its Spotlight)" / "Bad Reputation" – 29 July 1977

Remastered edition[edit]

On 27 June 2011, a new remastered and expanded version of Bad Reputation was released. This version features the following bonus tracks:

  1. "Killer Without a Cause" (BBC Session 01/08/1977)
  2. "Bad Reputation" (BBC Session 01/08/1977)
  3. "That Woman's Gonna Break Your Heart" (BBC Session 01/08/1977)
  4. "Dancing in the Moonlight (It's Caught Me in It's Spotlight)" (BBC Session 01/08/1977)
  5. "Downtown Sundown" (BBC Session 01/08/1977)
  6. "Me and the Boys" (Soundcheck) (Universal Monitor Mixes)




  1. ^ a b Mark Putterford, "Philip Lynott: The Rocker", Castle, 1994
  2. ^ "Scott Gorham – Still Proving It (interview with Tony Conley)". Rock Guitar Daily. 6 June 2014. Retrieved 21 June 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Alan Byrne, "Thin Lizzy: Soldiers of Fortune", Firefly, 2004
  4. ^ a b Scott Gorham & Harry Doherty, "The Boys Are Back in Town", Omnibus, 2012.
  5. ^ "Chart Stats - Thin Lizzy". Chart Stats. Retrieved 2008-06-25. [dead link]
  6. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 555–556. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  7. ^ "Allmusic > Song Search Results > Dancing in the Moonlight". 
  8. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Bad Reputation review". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2011-06-22. 
  9. ^ 2011 remastered back cover notes.
  10. ^ 2011 remastered back cover notes.
  11. ^ O'Mahony, Catherine (28 May 2005). "Magners London launch is Irish-made". The Sunday Business Post. Key Capital and Cooke. Retrieved 29 March 2016.