The Joup Friday Album: Thin Lizzy – Jailbreak

Thin Lizzy Jailbreak


Irish rock bands have a certain charm to them that is exclusively unique. I don’t know if it’s the folklore, the climate or their rich history but Ireland has produced some of the best artists and bands in the world. Van Morrison, Rory Gallagher, Thin Lizzy, The Undertones, Stiff Little Fingers, the Boomtown Rats and U2 are amongst the many groups and artists from Ireland but let’s spring off Van Morrison. Van Morrison and his early 60s group called Them were sort of the trailblazers for the Irish rock music scene. The band was a brash rhythm blues outfit fronted by one of the greatest voices in the world, Van Morrison. They had soul, grit and a swagger that was all their own. Them got the ball rolling for rock music in Ireland. Flash forward to 1970 two schoolmates outside of Dublin, Ireland named Brian Downey (drums) and Phil Lynott (vocals, bass guitar) founded a band that would be later called Thin Lizzy. They took inspiration from Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Celtic folk music and rock bands like the Jeff Beck Group and Jimi Hendrix.

Today’s Joup Friday album is Thin Lizzy’s Jailbreak. Thin Lizzy has been described as a heavy metal band but I am not alone in my opinion that they were a truly a hard rock group but they were also a very diverse band musically. From Lizzy’s beginning they had a series of guitar players that slightly changed but by the time Jailbreak came out in 1976 Thin Lizzy had it’s zenith guitar line up with Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson. Gorham and Robertson both had lead and rhythm guitar duties they also developed a sort of mirror guitar solo style that has been copied by many bands that came after them. They used Gibson Les Paul guitars with a guitar pedal called the Watkins Copy Cat. The Copy Cat was a loop of analog tape that would record a guitar as it was being played and then play it back through the amplifier a split second later creating a sound delay. This guitar style became Thin Lizzy’s signature sound. Jailbreak contains the break through hit song “The Boys Are Back In Town” which has since been used in movies, commercials and is also a staple song on classic rock radio. The song broke Thin Lizzy into the American market and it busted the door wide open for them as a band after seven plus years climbing the ladder on to the rock and roll rollercoaster of the1970’s.

The title track song “Jailbreak” has a tough and macho sound that provides a clear delivery system for Lynott’s unique brand of songwriting and vocal schemes. The song sends a warning message of prisoners on the loose, “busting out dead or alive”. “Jailbreak” has one of the toughest guitar lines ever it sounds chunky and mean like a bouncer at a biker bar. Jailbreak also reveals the bands influences from the Van Morrison inspired song “Running Back”. The tune showcases Lynott’s very sensitive side. It’s a break up song that is sung with a pleading urgency of trying to get your lover back after a relationship that went awry, “When they say it’s over it’s not all over there’s still the pain”. Also a side note worth mentioning about “Running Back” is that Huey Lewis plays the saxophone parts on the song.

“Warriors” closes out side A of Jailbreak and it dives into their hard rock attitude of the toughest gang in town. The song has a menacing quality with the guitar parts to match it. It is about Celtic pride and fighting for what you believe in. If I was driving to go out and put an ass whooping on somebody I would have this song blaring from the speakers of my 1979 Camaro with the t-tops off. Another classic off Jailbreak is “Cowboy Song”. This song is a barroom jukebox staple of mine. It has everything a great rock song should have. It has a subtle intro, straight up tight guitar riffs, strong vocals and guitar solos that are uplifting and powerful. “Now were on the border at town in Mexico I got my job busting rocks for the rodeo”. “Cowboy Song” is a must hear for anybody who loves adventure, gritty scenery and high-energy rock and roll.

Just like many bands Thin Lizzy is known from their hit songs but most music lovers dig deeper into the catalogue and find some hidden songs that are just as good as their hits if not better. Jailbreak is a great Thin Lizzy record to start with if you are not already a fan of the group and that is why I chose Jailbreak as The Joup Friday Album.

“ Roll me over and turn me around, let me keep spinning till I hit the ground, roll me over and set me free, a cowboys life is the life for me”.

R.I.P. Phil Lynott 1949 – 1986

Sonny Vitkauskas 7/18/17

2 Responses to The Joup Friday Album: Thin Lizzy – Jailbreak
  1. sonny vitkauskas Reply

    Sorry. Tag Chester or you.

  2. Shawn Reply

    Awesome write-up. Who You tagging?

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