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Jailbreak=Studio album by Thin Lizzy
Released: 26 March 1976
Recorded: December 1975 January 1976, Ramport Studios, London
Genre: Hard rock
Label: Vertigo (UK)
Producer: John Alcock
Label: Vertigo – 9102 008
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Gatefold. First UK release, released in a die-cut Unipak gatefold cover with matte finish.
Released: 26 Mar 1976
Genre: Rock, Hard Rock
Jailbreak is the sixth studio album by Irish hard rock band Thin Lizzy, released in 1976. It proved to be the bands commercial breakthrough in the US. The singles include “Jailbreak” and “The Boys Are Back in Town”, the latter being Thin Lizzys biggest hit.
Initially, the song “Running Back” was chosen to be a single ahead of “The Boys Are Back in Town”, the latter being seen as possibly too aggressive for some radio stations to play. Frontman and songwriter Phil Lynott and producer John Alcock decided to employ session musicians to add more commercial elements to some of the tracks to try to produce a hit single, and Tim Hinkley was brought in to add keyboard parts to “Running Back”. Guitarist Brian Robertson was against the idea, as he liked the song as it had originally been arranged, in a blues format with his own additions of piano and bottleneck guitar. He later said, “I took enormous offence to [the changes]. I couldn’t understand why they’d pay this guy a fortune just for playing what he did. Listen to it and tell me its not bollocks.” Robertson did not play on the finished version of the song and Hinkley is not credited on the album sleeve. Lynott said at the time that “Running Back” was “very much influenced by Van Morrison. I really like that song.”
Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic described Jailbreak as a “truly exceptional album”, with “a dimension of richness that sustains, but theres such kinetic energy to the band that it still sounds immediate no matter how many times its played”. Highlighting Lynott’s songs as “lovingly florid… crammed with specifics and overflowing with life”, he claimed that Gorham and Robertsons guitar work is “intertwined, dual-lead guitar interplay that was one of the most distinctive sounds of ’70s rock”. A reviewer for Sputnikmusic took the view that nearly every song on the album is “a pure, hard rocker with little to no flaws”, picking out the “killer groove” of “Angel from the Coast”, the “infamous” “The Boys Are Back in Town” and the “gritty” title track. He also claimed that “Cowboy Song” is “arguably one of the best songs Thin Lizzy ever produced”.
All songs written by Phil Lynott, except where noted.
“Angel from the Coast” (Lynott, Brian Robertson) 3:03
“Running Back” 3:13
“Romeo and the Lonely Girl” 3:55
“Warriors” (Lynott, Scott Gorham) 4:09 Thin Lizzy drummer Brian Downey says this is one of his 10 favourite Thin Lizzy songs: “This was an idea that Phil had knocking around just before we recorded it, and there’s a bit of a Hendrix influence in there, which I like. We were all pretty influenced by Hendrix back in the day. At the time the track was recorded I wasn’t exactly sure what the idea was, but it came out pretty well. It might not be said in the song, but it’s definitely dedicated to Hendrix”
“The Boys Are Back in Town” 4:27
“Fight or Fall” 3:45
“Cowboy Song” (Lynott, Brian Downey) 5:16
“Emerald” (Gorham, Downey, Robertson, Lynott) 4:03 Thin Lizzy drummer Brian Downey says this is one of his 10 favourite Thin Lizzy songs: “Kind of an Irish-influenced groove on this one. Lots of Irish-influenced guitar, too, with a jiggy kind of vibe. Phil’s vocals are splendid on this. The lyrics are really good. “Down from the glen came the marching men” is the kind of standard opening line you’d get with those traditional tunes – I’d heard that sort of refrain before – but Phil put his stamp on it”
On the original vinyl release of the album, the back cover included a short story.
Phil Lynott bass guitar, lead vocals, acoustic guitar
Scott Gorham lead and rhythm guitar
Brian Robertson lead and rhythm guitar
Brian Downey drums, percussion
Tim Hinkley keyboards on “Running Back” (uncredited)
In the title track from the band’s definitive studio album, everything about it is badass: that first booming, ominous power-chord, the heavy vibe throughout, the police siren wailing amid the spiralling tension, and, of course, the most famous tautology in rock’n’roll: “Tonight there’s gonna be a jailbreak/Somewhere in the town.”
The Boys Are Back In Town
Everything that’s great about Thin Lizzy is in this song: the hard rocking swagger, the twin-guitar harmonies, Lynott’s innate sense of melody, and a wonderfully evocative lyric about boys and girls, drinking and fighting. Incredibly, when the band recorded The Boys Are Back In Town in 1976, they didn’t think it was anything special. But after US radio jumped on it, the song was a huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic. And over time it became something even bigger: one of the all-time classic rock anthems, and the song for which Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy will always be remembered.
In 1976, with Ireland still under the shadow of The Troubles, one track from the Jailbreak album had a powerful resonance. Emerald was a tale of ancient battles, but as Lynott said: “You could relate it to any period of time.” And the music, like the words, hit hard.