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Old 01-20-2021, 06:40 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Thin Lizzy-Jailbreak



When seventies rock (spelled RAWK) comes to mind, history tends to favor certain acts over others. Aerosmith, ZZ Top, Alice Cooper, and Lynyrd Skynyrd tend to be the most celebrated and tend to get the most play on classic rock radio. But a definitive band in the crystallizing and development of seventies hard rock was Thin Lizzy. Fronted by bassist, lead vocalist and principal songwriter Phil Lynot, Thin Lizzy wrote songs about gangs, the cruelties and difficulties of love, having a good time, and making your own way in an uncaring environment.

Jailbreak is often heralded as their quintessential release and showcases Lynot's prowess as a lyricist in particular. A song like "Angel from the Coast" is a perfect example of this. Lynot's ability to throw together lines like:

"The sacred heart is bleeding
Go tell the Holy Ghost
That the junkie is still cheating
To get the thing he needs the most"


Also on display is the perfection of the dual guitar attack of Scott Gorham and Brian Downey whose riffs are as memorable as they are technically dazzling. Their playing is so tight and controlled and the crunch of their amps is rough enough to send chills up spines and produced enough to sing as sweet as birds. Arguably, they are a important influence (alongside KISS) on NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) acts Judas Priest and Iron Maiden whose similar approach to guitar music has influenced everything from thrash to death to pop metal such as Journey and Motley Crue.



Album Rating: 5/5 for genre significance, overall quality, songcraft, musicianship, musical influence, and in comparison to more popular acts (I take this over most Aerosmith and Kiss albums any day, nevermind Journey whose appeal I will never understand except maybe as a bad joke).



Best tracks:

1) Jailbreak: Opens the album with a screaming guitar surrounded by a wave of crashing cymbals meant to imitate police sirens. The noise dies down to reveal the onslaught of crunchy power chords and a lone figure telling us the story of he and his mates escape from prison. Excellent musical dynamics at the escape scene.

2) Angel from the Coast: Steely Dan-esque concrete jungle story about the seediest limits of city life and the religious journey that survival becomes because of it. Oh and Femme Fatales. There are those too.

3) The Boys are Back in Town: The biggest song on the album. The best remembered riff off the album. It was used in the commercials for Toy Story 2 back in the day (I guess Woody and Buzz were the boys in question). Excellent guitar solo. It's about the triumphant return of some "good-ol'-boys" to some (one assumes) small town where they were the principal gossip (and trouble) makers.

4) Cowboy Song: My personal favorite and another of their radio songs. About a lone figure roaming the south, roaming the countryside looking for a place to happen (to quote the Tragically Hip). Begins with an atmospheric camp-fire setting with a harmonica and country guitar softly playing in the background with the slow and so carefully timed introduction of the greatest descending minor third guitar riff you will ever hear. Contains not one but two gorgeous guitar solos that were so intricately engineered (they had to have been) but seemingly mimicable that you will be discouraged and motivated at the same time.
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Old 02-06-2021, 12:34 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Whenever I see them now it reminds me of that Vice blog post where the author played The Boys are Back so many times on a jukebox.
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