Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak
Vertigo
Hard Rock
9 songs (35:52)
Release year: 1976
Reviewed by Goat

About as classic as classic gets, Thin Lizzy need very little introduction. From their formation in 1969 as the result of two schoolboy friends, Phil Lynott and Brian Downey, the band blazed a trail in their native Ireland, Lynott being the first black Irishman to find mainstream success in the rock field, and the band recruiting from both Protestant and Catholic communities during the infamous Troubles. Finding fame from their cover of the traditional Whiskey in the Jar in 1972, the band were obviously major in the rock world, but were also an enormous influence on metal, popularising the dual lead guitar concept alongside Judas Priest that was later taken on by Iron Maiden and Def Leppard. A major inspiration for the likes of Metallica and Mastodon, it's hard to see metal existing in its current form without Thin Lizzy – although, as Jailbreak shows, there's no reason to denigrate the band's output itself.

As their most famous album, Jailbreak needs little introduction either. Coming at what has become known as the band's classic period, a world away from their odd funky beginnings and building on the vicious rock n'roll of previous album Fighting, this showed Thin Lizzy firing on all cylinders, hungry and vital. Earlier songs like The Rocker and Suicide had proven that the band had it, but Jailbreak showed they could fill an album with killer. Obviously The Boys Are Back in Town is the song that made them superstars, yet from the beginning the album holds you rapturous. The title track kicks things off, the second-most famous song here, that opening riff as lively and infectious as the band, and the chorus equally so. If Jailbreak the song proves anything, it's what damn good songwriters Thin Lizzy were, well-practised at outlaw rock n'roll from their previous albums but never making it this good. The wailing sirens make it the perfect album opener, setting the scene and presenting the band as unmistakeably badass to those somehow not in the know...

What is often forgotten, especially from those who only know Thin Lizzy from 'best rock anthems'-type albums, is how damn good even the less-well-known songs from this album are. Angel From the Coast is a perfect example, a rock n'roll engine that chugs along infectiously and provides plenty of instrumental sugar. Each song on the album follows a similar lyrical theme, of romantic outlaws and bad men that we love to love, and even the more ballad-type songs are so tuneful and catchy as to stay with you – Running Back is a great example. But this album rocks steadily, even in calmer moments like Romeo and the Lonely Girl, a great riff backpinning the catchy vocal hooks and a beautiful bit of soloing topping thing off. Even the lightest track present, Fight or Fall, has such a compelling vocal performance from Lynott that you just can't skip it. Of course, what everyone loves the most are the rocking tracks, and from the ominous jangling of Warriors that eventually leads into some of the album's best lead guitar, to the aforementioned mega-hit that was The Boys Are Back in Town, it provides plenty of catchy yet brainy guitar-worshipping loveliness. Personally, my favourite track is the warlike Emerald, showing off the band's guitar skills at their best, heralding future Iron Maiden classics, and finishing Jailbreak off perfectly.

You forget some things, if you've not heard this album in a while. You forget how good the instrumental sections are, the band a rock machine firing off like Judas Priest at their best. You forget how good a vocalist Phil Lynott was, that melodic yet ever-so-slightly raspy voice absolutely unique. You forget how damn cool that artwork is... and you forget just what a great band Thin Lizzy were. Just under ten years from the release of this album, Phil Lynott would be dead as the result of a heroin overdose, a tragic loss at the young age of 36. Thin Lizzy had split by then, the band's last years dogged by Lynott's addictions, but Jailbreak is a great snapshot of the band at their best, and Lynott at his. A pleasure to listen to, and a stone cold classic.

Killing Songs :
All, especially Jailbreak, Angel From the Coast, Warriors, The Boys Are Back in Town, and Emerald
Goat quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Thin Lizzy that we have reviewed:
Thin Lizzy - Are You Ready? (Live at Rockpalast - Germany 1981) (DVD) reviewed by Marty and quoted no quote
Thin Lizzy - Still Dangerous (Live at the Tower Theater, Philadelphia 1977) reviewed by Marty and quoted no quote
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