Thin Lizzy ‘Jailbreak’ – 5 stars

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2016 made it forty years since Thin Lizzy released their career saving sixth album “Jailbreak”.  It was their third LP from what most people consider the band’s classic line up: Phil Lynott, who was their front-man, figurehead, chief songwriter, bass guitarist, lead vocalist and poet, Brian Robertson and Scott Gorham on twin lead guitars and Brian Downey on drums.

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The band’s record label Vertigo had given them one more album to get some record sales and after that the heavy hammer was coming down.  So it was produce or bust.  They produced in spades.

They convened in December 1975 at Ramport Studios with John Alcock at the production desk and in just over two months they had this masterpiece clocking in at just over thirty six minutes in duration and in the shops by late March.  The album rose to number ten in the United Kingdom’s charts whilst gaining gold status and number eighteen on the U.S. Billboard.

The first single off the album (which almost did not make it to the disc let alone being the lead-off single) “The Boys Are Back in Town” reached number eight in the United Kingdom whilst reaching number twelve on the U.S. Billboard.  The follow up single from the album, the title track, also made the top forty on both sides of the Atlantic.

So at last Thin Lizzy had sprouted wings and flown.  From the opening title track it’s immediately apparent that both Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson have been let loose on their lead axes, often playing in perfect symphony and giving the band that classic dual lead guitar sound that they became famous for.

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With Phil Lynott’s lyrics and drawled vocals, plus his almost funky bass lines, and Brian Downey’s engine room drums, they were able to capitalize on most of the mid-seventies markets.  Lynott was easily capable of writing pretty love songs like “Running Back”, or catchy singles like “The Boys are Back in Town’ with its instantly recognizable opening chords, or stadium hard rock songs like “Warriors” with its no nonsense guitars.

The album ends with two timeless classics, “The Cowboy Song”, which starts with its haunting chorus backed by harmonica about being alone out on the range before the band come crashing in for the second verse to drag the song along the trail, kicking and screaming.

The final track “Emerald” is an out and out rocker with its lyrics about armies coming down from the hills, looting and pillaging the towns and villages and leaving nothing behind them in their wake.  Lynott’s lyrics do not leave much to the imagination.  In the mid section of the song Gorham and Robertson brandish their axes and have their own personnel battle, bringing the song and the album to a ferocious climax.

(L to R) Brian Robertson, Phil Lynott and Scott Gorham perform with Thin Lizzy at Bradford St Georges Hall in northern England, 24/11/1977. (Photo/Richard Marchewka/Public Domain)
(L to R) Brian Robertson, Phil Lynott and Scott Gorham perform with Thin Lizzy at Bradford St Georges Hall in northern England, 24/11/1977. (Photo/Richard Marchewka/Public Domain)

The deluxe edition of this album comes with a whole extra CD’s worth of unreleased and live material, and for once on these deluxe ‘must have’ packages the extras are of extremely good quality and well worth more than just one cursory play through.

Sadly, Thin Lizzy never really reached this lofty peak again.  But when they were good – they were the best.

Track List:

Jailbreak

Angel From The Coast

Running Back

Romeo and The Lonely Girl

Warriors

The Boys are Back In Town

Fight or Fall

The Cowboys Song

Emerald

(Review written by Hells Bells and Mott the Dog)