MUSIC REVIEW | Thin Lizzy – Jailbreak (1976)

Thin Lizzy

Thin Lizzy is one of those bands that suffer because of one song. Even if you love The Boys Are Back in Town, I’m sure you never need to hear it again. It’s one of those songs that is rammed down your throat way too many times before you ever get a chance to form a subjective opinion. But they have a pretty enduring legacy, so I have to assume there’s more to Thin Lizzy than that one song. An assumption I’m putting to the test by listening to Jailbreak.

The title song is pretty cool and a kind of rock that you don’t hear too much now. It’s definitely rock, the guitars are loud, they’re riff heavy and the drums are pumping, but it never even comes close to heavy or metal. It’s got the attitude and swagger, without the excessiveness. Which all adds up for a pretty refreshing take on rock and roll. Question, can you call something that’s almost 40 years old, ‘refreshing’?

They up the energy and urgency on Angel From the Coast, but the jaunty piano track makes sure it goes more Elton-John-camp than anything even slightly menacing through tempo. Just when I thought that was the campiest I could expect from Thin Lizzy, they bust out Running Back. Half a rip off of their one mega hit, half organ corniness, I’m really starting to wonder why I ever assumed they were a hard rock band. Because when added to Romeo and the Lonely Girl, Jailbreak is shaping up as one of the lamest soft rock records I’ve ever heard.

And then comes Warriors, and don’t I just feel like a judgemental asshole? Because this shit rocks. Pinched harmonics on the guitars, rumbling bass, driving drums and cluelessly cocky lyrics that are hilarious in their earnestness. There’s even a wailing, wahed solo, just to make sure this song really kicks you in the dick as a way of apologising for the lameness of earlier songs. How is a kick in the dick an apology? That’s rock and roll.

Then it’s time for The Boys Are Back in Town. A track a great man once described as, “one of those songs that is rammed down your throat way too many times before you ever get a chance to form a subjective opinion.” I think that says it all, really.

With Cowboy Song, Thin Lizzy does a great job of combining everything that’s great and terrible about Jailbreak all in one song. When it rocks, it rocks hard, but there’s a lot crap to trudge through to get there. That already dubious formula delivers quickly diminishing returns when things close out with Emerald.

About 380 words ago, I was hoping to find out that Thin Lizzy were more than one OK song that has for some reason gone on to be an unavoidable, enduring hit. What I got was nowhere near that. The worst part about Jailbreak is, the good parts are really, really great. So it comes across as nothing more than sadly squandered potential.

Thin Lizzy

One thought on “MUSIC REVIEW | Thin Lizzy – Jailbreak (1976)

  1. Dick kicks and self quotations possibly makes this review the Thin Lizzy equivalent of album reviews. Is that a bad thing? Maybe, maybe not.

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