Record Review: Phil Lynott – Yellow Pearl

My first Premaster disc had a track I’d long enjoyed by one of my old favorites. This single in particular is a reminder that for at least three years, Midge Ure was a man with a midas touch. After the collapse of the “punk supergroup” The Rich Kids, Midge Ure spent some time in Thin Lizzy; helping out his friend Phil Lynott when guitarist Gary Moore went solo. Ure played on the “Black Rose” album and toured with the band, but by 1980 he was casting his lot with Ultravox, but he remained friends with Lynott, and gifted him with what I consider is one of his best songs of this “golden period” where Ure could do no wrong.

Phonogram | UK | 7" | 1980 | SOLO 3

Phil Lynott – Yellow Pearl UK 7″ [1980]

  1. Yellow Pearl 2:58
  2. Girls

“Yellow Pearl” is a stunner of a number that places Phil Lynott in a super-hip synth-rock production that sounds like a lost Visage number. It’s almost entirely synthetic with Ure drafting in his Visage cohort Billy Currie to add his distinctive Arp playing to the carload of synths already being played by Ure and Lynott. Lizzy’s drummer Brian Downey was moved to syndrums and no one would ever mistake this for the product of a black leather clad metal act’s output, even though that’s what it is! Check out the credits from Lynott’s “Solo In Soho” album for this track:

Synthesizer [Arp Synthesizer] – Billy Currie
Synthesizer [Mini Moog, Arp Synthesizer, String Machine] – Midge Ure
Written By – Ure
Drums [Syn Drums] – Brian Downey
Voice [Female Voice] – Laureen
Bass [Bass Guitars], Guitar [Rhythm Guitars], Effects [Vocoder], Synthesizer [Mini Moog], Percussion, Vocals – Philip Lynott

This is one heck of a sleek track with alarmist lyrics about Japan’s emerging technoculture. There are three distinct single versions of this song, which makes things a bit confusing for collectors. As shown above, there is a black vinyl 7″ with Phonogram silver injection molded labels. This features the shortest version of the track at three minutes as seen on the video you might see online. This mix opens with a siren wail and cuts straight to the song’s prodigious hooks and compulsive rhythms. This is the version that soon became the theme song to BBC’s venerable Top of the Pops TV series for several years following in an instrumental version. The mix on the “Solo In Soho” album of 1980 is a 4:06 version.

Phonogram | UK | 7" | 1980 | SOLO3

Phil Lynott – Yellow Pearl UK 7″ [1980]

  1. Yellow Pearl 3:21
  2. Girls
There is also a clear vinyl 7″ version with paper labels that sports a 3:21 remix of the track. This also shows up on the Midge Ure compilation “If I Was: The Best Of Midge Ure + Ultravox,” that appeared in 1992. This version opens with a drum machine rhythm and a Japanese woman saying “We all must beware of the yellow pearl” as the track gradually builds up a head of steam to the level of urgency that the previous single has right out of the starting blocks. I have this record, but lack the 2:58 and 4:06 versions [so far].

Phonogram | UK | 12" | 1980 | SOLO 312

Phil Lynott – Yellow Pearl UK 12″ [1980]

  1. Yellow Pearl 4:29
  2. Girls

The third single release of this cut was on a 12″ single that was obviously the source for the edited mix on the clear vinyl 7″ version. This is the longest mix of “Yellow Pearl” and retains the hallmarks of the clear vinyl remix, albeit stretched out in an expansive 4:29 version. This is the version I committed to disc recently. I suspect that the silver injection label version might be actually re-released in 1982 since after the track was made the TOTP theme song in 1981, the cut also appeared on Phil’s second solo album; 1982’s cleverly titled “The Phil Lynott Album.” The timing on that track is 2:56, leading me to believe that the shortest, most urgent version of the track [that was also the version on the video] is a second 7″ single release from 1982.

So to tally up, I have the 3:21 and 4:49 versions of this song. I don’t have the 2:59 or 4:06 versions and need to do something about that. The silver injection 7″ version is vinyl only, but the 4:06 1980 LP version has been placed in the running order of the recent remaster of the 1982 “Phil Lynott Album” in place of the 2:56 version it should have, so I can get that as a download. I’m not a fan enough of Phil to want a whole CD of his. Nevertheless, this is an awesome cut that shows that Midge Ure was magnanimous enough to give one of his best songs ever to a friend. “Yellow Pearl” sounds like a track from the 1980 “Visage” or “Vienna” albums, which is to say that it sounds like the soundtrack to my life!

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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2 Responses to Record Review: Phil Lynott – Yellow Pearl

  1. Humanracer says:

    Great post. The 4:06 version is also available on the compilation Yellow Pearl – A Collection.
    It’s odd that the 2:58 is marked as the first 7″ remix and the 3:20 as the second because I always felt it should have been the other way around. At least according to Wikipedia, it was the remix without the female spoken intro that hit the charts in Dec 81 and was featured on the Phil Lynott album in 1982.
    It’s a real shame the 12″ has never been released on CD and for that matter all the modified versions that were made for the TOTP. Here is a link to a fan made version of one of them

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Humanracer – Welcome to the comments! Yes, I have the Lynott comp on my want list and one day may actually have it. Sure, it’s a La Düsseldorf ripoff, but at least it’s a superb one that manages to hone “Menschen” even more into a song that I could hear on a loop for days.

      Like

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