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.
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)