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Jailbreak
Thin Lizzy

Mercury 1081
Released: March 1976
Chart Peak: #18
Weeks Charted: 28
Certified Gold: 10/22/77

Phil Lynott.gifJailbreak, Thin Lizzy's fifth and best American album, culminates their assimilation of various rock influences into a hard-edged, self-assured style. Guitarists Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson have incorporated stylistic tricks from Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townshend into an Allmans-like attack that works equally well on the gutsy title song and the soft rocker, "Fight or Fall."

Bassist/writer/vocalist Phil Lynott's full-bodied voice is occasionally a dead ringer for Bruce Springsteen's. For example, "The Boys Are Back in Town," resembles a hard-rock "Kitty's Back," right down to the whispered "the boys are back." Like his melodies, Lynott's vocals are engaging, performed with enough spirit to hide Thin Lizzy's prime weakness: lyrics. Jailbreak rehashes the dead horse motif of rocker as outlaw, producing some embarrassingly thin and pretentious writing. "Cowboy Song," despite its sprightly twin-lead guitar work, is the prime casualty, but lines like "Oh, poor Romeo, sitting all on his own-eo," threaten to unhinge the melodically compelling "Romeo and the Lonely Girl" as well.

- John Milward, Rolling Stone, 6/3/76.

Bonus Reviews!

The proof of how desperate people are for new Springsteen is that they'll settle for this -- even "The Boys Are Back in Town" is the sort of thing that ends up in Bruce's wastebasket. If Irish teen traumas are as boring as Phil Lynott's descriptions of them, it's no wonder they have trouble maintaining their birthrate. And if Irish teen traumas are as secondhand as Scott Gorham's guitar lines, the Irish will probably end up preferring Springsteen too. B-

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

Purely and simply a great rock and roll record. "Boys" is here in all its rabble-rousing glory, but better yet is the title track. Robertson and Gorham sound inspired, and Lynott's solid singing is made better by the sharp melodies he's written. Perhaps a greatest hits compilation is a better place to start, but Jailbreak is a keeper. * * * *

- John Dougan, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

On Jailbreak, Phil Lynott's sensitivity and swagger gels like shots and beers with his strongest set of tunes -- notably, "The Boys Are Back in Town," a violent summertime paean to male camaraderie. * * * *

- Allan Orski, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.

(2011 Deluxe Edition) Fronted by a biracial Irish rake who wanted to be Jimi Hendrix and Van Morrison at the same time -- singer-bassist-songwriter Phil Lynott -- Thin Lizzy took six years and as many studio albums to hone their Celtic-cowboy power blues into the twin-guitar super-rock of 1976's Jailbreak. The title blast, the hit single "The Boys Are Back in Town" and the riff-warrior battle "Emerald" are Lynott and Lizzy at their swaggering peak, while 1976's Johnny the Fox, also reissued, is nearly as good. Both come with bonus BBC sessions, outtakes and new remixes (co-produced by Def Leppard's Joe Elliot) that are, surprisingly, not heresy -- just brighter and louder.

- David Fricke, Rolling Stone, 3/3/11.


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