REVIEW: Thin Lizzy – Johnny The Fox (deluxe edition)

JOHNNY FRONTTHIN LIZZY – Johnny the Fox (2011 deluxe edition)

When my copy of Johnny The Fox had arrived, it was the last of the initial three Lizzy deluxe editions that I required. For some reason, it took two months to arrive. The wait over, I eagerly devoured this new remastered edition.

As always with these deluxe editions, the packaging is impressive. The cover art looks great, there are liner notes galore, and a bunch of pictures. The remastering was crisp and clear. Job well done. Where this deluxe edition falls short is on the bonus material. I found the bonus material a bit tedious this time out, with some tracks being mere curiosities and nothing you’d really care to listen to more than a couple times.

Johnny The Fox, as an album, is one of my Lizzy favourites. It features the classic lineup of Lynott, Downey, Gorham and Robertson and has some of the best lesser-known Lizzy album cuts. “Massacre” is a Maiden-eque stomp through some bloody history (Maiden covered it later). “Fools Gold” is some fantastic mid-tempo storytelling. I absolutely love this song, emotional and strong. My favourite song, “Borderline”, is a ballad with a slight twang and Phil hitting all the right notes with a beautiful bassline. This is just a very well rounded rock album, with lots of great songs like “Johnny” and “Boogie Woogie Dance” that just jump out at you.

And let’s not forget “Don’t Believe A Word”, one of the best known Lizzy classics.  Great song, absolutely timeless.  Not to be outshone are classics such as the tough “Rocky” and the cool funk of “Johnny the Fox Meets Jimmy the Weed”.  This album was Lizzy at their peak, the classic lineup, and a record equally as powerful as the slightly better known Jailbreak.

Even the lyrics are Lynott at his prime!  Check out “Johnny the Fox Meets Jimmy the Weed”:

In the back of a black Cadillac,
The voodoo music travels,
Down Skid Row only black men can go,
The shady deal unravels

See how Lynott also gave a shout-out to his old band, Skid Row, with Gary Moore?

Listening to Johnny The Fox now, I hear no weak songs.  “Old Flame” is a pretty ballad with the dual guitar thing going on,  a ballad as only Lizzy could do it.  Only the slow “Sweet Marie” is as close as you get to a dud.

JOHNNY INSIDE

The bonus disc starts off with two Joe Elliot remixes (“Don’t Believe A Word” and “Johnny”). Once again, Elliot has beefed up the sound while maintaining the integrity of the track. I know that they took great pains to fix every out of tune note, but you honestly don’t really detect it. I’m sure you could if you tried, but just enjoying the tracks, it doesn’t sound too messed with.

There are some good BBC Sessions up next, all very tight and sounding not too dissimilar for the album tracks. Unfortunately by now you have heard “Don’t Believe A Word” and “Johnny” three times each. You’re also about to hear “Johnny the Fox Meets Jimmy the Weed” a third time, this one a lo-fi instrumental take. There are four of these instrumental rehearsals in total, and honestly they’re extraneous. This kind of stuff, while interesting to listen to on an analytical level, were never meant for public consumption. Fortunately, this disc ends with a neat rough demo called “Scott’s Tune” that is a previously unknown musical idea by Scott Gorham. Nice find.

On the whole, I don’t regret this purchase, I’m glad to have the complete set of Lizzy deluxe editions. The packaging is very nice and the Joe Elliot remixes are strong. Some material I’ll be itching to skip over next time. It’s not the best deluxe edition ever.

4.5 /5 stars. (5 stars for album/4 for reissue)

16 comments

  1. Definitely one of my fave Lizzy albums. Shame the bonus tracks aren’t quite up to scratch but I suppose they are just that… a bonus. I haven’t even listened to the second disc of my copy yet! Haha

    Glad you picked out Borderline as your favourite… I think that might be one of my favourite Lizzy tunes full stop!

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    1. You really need to catch up on your bonus disc listening Scott! To me, the bonus tracks are the whole reason to shell out a second (or third) time.

      Borderline…see Scott, this is why I think you will like SOME country music. Borderline has a country twang to it. Real legit country can sound awesome.

      Also, I think Sykes slightly ripped this song off for a tune on the 1987 album. Don’t Turn Away, I think. Listen to the bass.

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      1. I’ve probably got more unlistened-to bonus discs than most people have albums! Hahaha

        I do need to get caught up. Maybe it could be a new HMO series? The HMO listens to the bonus discs! It’s why I’ve went a bit cool on buying deluxes..I’ve realised I hardly ever listen to the extras.

        I hadn’t made the Don’t Turn Away/Borderline connection but I totally get it now you’ve pointed it out.

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        1. Yeah listen to the bassline on both. Very similar.

          I’m all for an HMO listens to Bonus Discs feature. Heck we could maybe collude to do that in conjunction. Cross promotion!

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        2. It might be a good idea! We should have a think about it… I really need to get back into the way of doing more full album reviews first though. That’s like the meat and potatoes stuff and my blog is very light on that at the moment!

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        3. Sounds like a challenge!

          There’s just not enough info available on the World Wide Web about albums like this, with the full bonus disc content. If you surf places like Amazon, it’s all just, “Great album!” or whatever.

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        4. True that! And the thing that always annoys me about Amazon is that they combine all the reviews from the different editions. So if you’re reading reviews of a deluxe you get all the old reviews of the single disc too! Very annoying. Well, I might do a deluxe review sometime then if I’m feeling brave! I’m not sure if I have any you don’t have though!… maybe one or two.

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        5. They didn’t used to do that, at least on the Canadian site anyway, but now they combine all the reviews together as you’ve said, making it virtually impossible for people to find the information they are ACTUALLY looking for.

          This is why knowledgeable rock fans should always come to mikeladano.com first! :)

          Do a review of one I already have! Who cares? Perspective is great! I haven’t even said a word about my Dio ones yet, those are wide open! I’ve done all the Sabbaths so far, and a good chunk of the Lizzy’s, but that’s about it.

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        6. We’ll see! Been listening to a few albums trying to think what to review next… some NWOBHM-related stuff to start off I think. Maybe a Dokken review! Although, I’m a total novice where they are concerned…

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        7. I think I mentioned this earlier, but I have a few Dokkens including a Japanese import of their worst album, Shadowlife. I think I wanna review that ;) Could be fun…

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  2. Very cool. It wasn’t until Mike gave me a couple of their records that I really paid attention to them. Now I love ’em! But I don’t have this one… yet. I have already added all the Lizzy studio albums to my search list for the next trip to the big city. And this one is on it, for sure.

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