REVIEW: Thin Lizzy – Jailbreak (deluxe edition)

JAILBREAK FRONT

THIN LIZZY – Jailbreak (2011 deluxe edition)

Jailbreak!

This classic underappreciated masterpiece of rock goodness has finally been expanded with bonus tracks.  Underappreciated?  Sure, while everyone knows at least two songs from this album, how many friends of yours actually own a copy?

Jailbreak‘s been given some cool bonus tracks.  An entire disc’s worth in fact!  The remastering sounds good enough to me.  Until I got this deluxe, I hadn’t played Jailbreak in a while, and I had completely forgotten about great album cuts like “Running Back”.  It’s a sweet little love ditty as only Phil can do it, romantic but classy all the way.

I think the second track, “Angel From the Coast”, is one of Lizzy’s greatest album cuts.  It rides on top a rhythmic, rolling guitar riff, but it’s also one of Phil’s more memorable compositions.  “Romeo and the Lonely Girl” is another one of Phil’s romantic classic rockers.  The lyrics are kinda cheesey:  “Whoah-oh, poor Romeo, sittin’ all on his own-e-o”.  But it works, because it’s Phil, and everything he did sounded sincere and cool.

“Warriors” brings the metal.  It’s a classic heavy rocker that I am sure people like Steve Harris studied meticulously to learn the mysterious art of songwriting.  Multiple sections collide, thundering drums roll, and solos rage.

“Fight Or Fall” is a great ballad, acoustic and soulful.  This is the kind of thing that Phil had done so well on albums like Nightlife.  “Emerald” is another Phil historical epic.  Once again, I feel that Steve Harris probably studied this song intensely.  This really anticipates where Iron Maiden were going to go later on.

One of the true classics on Jailbreak was “Cowboy Song”, a song that melded live with Lizzy’s cover of Bob Seger’s “Rosalie”.  In my mind, the two songs are one in the same now.  They go together like peanut butter and jam.  And that, friends, is a tasty sandwich.

I don’t really need to talk “Jailbreak” and “The Boys Are Back In Town”, do I?

Alright, I will.  “Boys Are Back” is one I discovered initially through Bon Jovi.  They covered it back in 1989 on a charity CD that I’ll cover another time.  It was perfect for them.  Didn’t Jon always sing about the boys being back in town back then?  It had a tasty guitar harmony part for Richie Sambora to sink his teeth into, and it was melodic and radio-worthy.  In a way, this is Lizzy’s Bon Jovi song, but it is no less classic for it.

And “Jailbreak”?  Everything about it is perfect.  The riff, the melody, but it really came alive in a live setting.  As good as the album version is, it was live that “Jailbreak” burned.

The bonus disc kicks off with four remixes helmed by Joe Elliott, one of the biggest Lizzy fans out there. His strategy was simple: some subtle fixes to out-of-tune guitars and drums that were mixed too low.  Then he and Scott Gorham added previously unheard lyrics, solos and fills. The result is some fine alternate versions that won’t replace the originals but serve as interesting companion pieces. I especially enjoyed the previously unheard lyrics from Phil.

The remixes are followed by some live takes. BBC recordings of the title track, “Emerald”, and others are nice and clean. Just as you would expect from the BBC. Then there is an extended cut of “Fight Or Fall” with some very tasty slide guitar brought up to the forefront. It’s a nice touch. “Blues Boy” is a completely unreleased track, a blues as you might have guessed. It is complete with some skeletal vocals from Phil, but this is essentially a blues jam. As an unreleased song, this is a valuable inclusion, albeit not a standout song. The album ends with a live take called “Derby Blues”, which is an embrionic version of “Cowboy Song”. “This is a new number, this one!” says Phil.  “As yet untitled. We’ll call it ‘Derby Blues'”. It still has all the energy and fire that it would later embody.  (“Derby Blues” is also on a more recent release called UK Tour 75.)

The liner notes to this edition are quite excellent, among the best I have ever run into in a deluxe edition. As an added bonus, there is a page of notes from Joe Elliott, explaining the included remixes.

If you don’t want to bother with the deluxe, at least make sure you own Jailbreak.
5/5 stars

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29 comments

  1. Not my joke, but I can’t remember who first pointed out the brilliance of the lyrics: “Tonight there’s going to be a jail break / somewhere in this town”.
    Somewhere? Somewhere?? Probably “the jail” is the best place to start your search….
    Nice review. Great album.

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    1. Literally, sure, but not necessarily! What if someone’s getting out of a bad relationship? They could call that a jailbreak. Or what if they’re quitting thir job? Or breaking out of their own mental traps, setting their minds free? Or maybe jail-breaking their cell phone? …

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        1. Sade could sing the phone book, it’d still sound sweet. And Chicago IS on the coast… of… Lake… Michigan… hm. And I suppose this song/album does pre-date cell phones, so that option’s out too…

          I looked up the lyrics, it seems most likely to be about escaping prison, but I like to keep my options open, on this one. Could still be about a relationship endng, and he’s looking at all the ladies he’s been missing out on. After all, he’s out with the boys, and it does contain this CLASSIC pick-up line:

          “Searchlight on my trail
          Tonight’s the night all systems fail
          Hey you good lookin’ female
          Come here!”

          Gonna try that one on my lovely wife tonight! Hahaha.

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      1. Nice try, but the line about alarm and sirens wailing makes me think its meant a bit more literally. That or its about going out on the pull – He warns women to “stay with a friend”. Perhaps it’s really a public safety announcement in a song…

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        1. Unless he’s warning only the woman he’s currently getting away from (his “jailbreak”) to stay indoors, because she’ll only get her heart broken if she seems him cutting loose with the boys and hitting on every other woman in sight!

          Also, was re-reading that line about “hey good lookin’ female, come here!” That part works for me, and I’ll see how THAT go with my lady tonight. Wahoo! But the lines preceding it make me wonder at his virility… “Tonight’s the night ALL SYSTEMS FAIL.” (caps mine). I just… Dude, seriously. Don’t go hitting on women if you can’t make good on your promises (if ya know what I mean). Heh heh.

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        2. Well just to make things more confusing, here’s the liner notes!

          THE JAILBREAK The Warrior locked himself into his video scanner and gazed throughout the Universe… until he came upon Dimension 5.

          DIMENSION 5 was now in the hands of the Overmaster, whose lust for ultimate power had become an obsession. Religion and the media were all under his control and computer files were kept on all known living persons within the city zones.

          Many were arrested and jailed.

          It was therefore significant that The Jailbreak represented a freedom for so many yet to those involved at the time it was a series of events, the outcome of which no-one could have foreseen. The plan was simple. By knocking out the alarm systems in a riot, they then would cause an explosion which would blow half the cell blocks away. Outside help came from an organization known as Phono-Graphics, who if the plan was successful would eventually capitalize on the whole project.

          The night of The Jailbreak all hell broke loose. A Red Alert was issued by the Overmaster himself. Robot trackers, military police. dogs and all available vehicles were on the hunt. All were caught, except four. who made it to the Rampic Buildings on the south side of the city. It was in these buildings that they broadcast and recorded selected material, some of which still survives today. Through these recordings they built up a follow ing who eventually took to the streets in what was to become the Final War.

          The Warrior had become weary and disillusioned with war, but seeing how the people struggled to be free he knew once again he must raise up his sword…

          The music sailed out into the night then upward towards the skies. Traveling on that thin border between realityand imagination.

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  2. I thought I was the only person who had that charity album with Bon Jovi playing The Boys Are Back In Town and I didn’t buy it, it was given to me as a birthday present. So many bands can trace their roots back to Thin Lizzy, their influence was astronomical.

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    1. You that song on the B-side to the vinyl “Always” single, probably a couple other places…but it’s not on their box set, strangely!

      I know Henry Rollins is a passionate Thin Lizzy fan. He takes his lyrics as seriously as Phil did.

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  3. Awesome album this one! And another bonus disc I’ve not listened to yet hahahaha

    I got into Lizzy after hearing Skyclad’s excellent cover of “Emerald” in the 90s. That had Robbo guesting on guitar on it too.

    Lizzy are one of those bands that have so much variety. You get bands picking out songs or facets of their style and making whole careers out of them.

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      1. It took a while for me to really get into them because of the variety. I loved Emerald so I bought a comp that had it on it (think it was Dedication). I just couldn’t get into stuff like Dancing in the Moonlight and all that. I was too much of a Metalhead! It wasn’t until finally buying the individual albums (starting with Jailbreak) that I started to understand. Now I love it all.

        I’m sure there were plenty of other influences on Maiden but when you hear songs like Massacre… you have to reckon Lizzy were a MASSIVE slice of the Maiden-pie! And the dual guitars too.

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        1. Dedicated was my first, too! I still love the title track, that helped to hook me on.

          Stuff like Dancing in the Moonlight never bothered me. Why? Because I already owned Peter Criss’ solo album…nothing was too soft for me anymore!

          I love Dancing in the Moonlight though, especially the lyrics. Why does he always get chocolate stains on his pants?

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        2. Actually I did have Peter’s solo at that point too! Always loved that album. I just had a particular preconception after hearing Skyclad’s Emerald and when I got heard the softer stuff I just wasn’t having it!… if I’d just went straight for Jailbreak they would have probably went over better.

          It’s just one of those things that happen, sometimes you hear the wrong album at the wrong time and it puts you off course!

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        3. Yeah this is true. The first Max Webster album I ever heard was the first one, and I hated it! I didn’t get it at all. I’d never heard Frank Zappa before at that point, except for “Montana”. That was 1994. By 1999 I had all the albums.

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        4. Tommy Morais and myself are working on a series called the Worst $10 I Ever Spent…it’s gonna be stuff like embarassing wrong turns into crappy bands, and just plain bad albums you paid good money for. Can’t wait.

          Hope by the above you’re not implying that you do like NSync!

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