In 2015 Ricky Warwick was a very busy man in that not only was he fronting Thin Lizzy, but he also somehow found the time to record and tour the second album with Black Star Riders, as well as recording two solo albums, namely ‘When Patsy Cline Was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Sang The Blues)’ and ‘Hearts On Trees’. Nuclear Blast initially released them both as individual albums on the same day before then reissuing them as a double CD set of 20 songs, 74 minutes long. I remember when The Almighty got going in the late Eighties as they seemed to be everywhere, often with the reprobates in Wolfsbane, and I always expected them to be much bigger than they were. Warwick has performed and created other bands since then, and this is not the first time I have come across one of his solo albums, reviewing his debut, ‘Tattoos & Alibis’ all the way back in 2003. There is no doubt that it is with Thin Lizzy that he has finally gained the recognition he always deserved, and this set is yet another example of what a fine singer and performer he is.
The two albums are very different indeed, with the first being a full-on rock release and the second acoustic, and it allows the listener to understand the different sides of Warwick. I am not sure if he has always sounded quite so much as Phil Lynott or if I am imagining it, but to my ears the first album clearly shows just why he was chosen to take on that role. As a writer he is also not too far removed and it is obviously a great match, as one could imagine a few of these songs coming from that band. He has a wonderful control of melody and is not afraid to mix it up so “Johnny Ringo’s Last Ride” could have come from Ginger; such is the pop mentality and rock mix. The change between the last track of the first album, “Yesteryear”, and the first one of the second, “Presbyterian Homesick Blues”, is fairly extreme. Suddenly we are in the world of roots, a guy sat on a stool strumming am acoustic, a crowd clapping in time and a distorted lap steel providing the edge. Some of the songs are gentler, and there is no doubt that Warwick is one of those strange beasts who is as happy with an acoustic as he is blasting it out as that is when he really gets the opportunity to bare his soul. It is difficult to choose between the two releases as they are so very different indeed, and the one I am listening to is the one I prefer, so getting this set allows the listener to understand both sides at once and that is the best approach.