Jailbreak (album)

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Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak.jpg
Studio album by Thin Lizzy
Released 26 March 1976
Recorded December 1975 – February 1976
Studio Ramport Studios, London
Genre Hard rock, blues rock
Length 36:15
Label Vertigo (UK, Canada)
Mercury (US)
Producer John Alcock
Thin Lizzy chronology
Johnny the Fox
(1976)Johnny the Fox1976

Jailbreak is the sixth studio album by Irish hard rock band Thin Lizzy, released in 1976. It proved to be the band's commercial breakthrough in the US, and the only Thin Lizzy album with a certification (in this case, Gold) in that country. The singles include "Jailbreak" and "The Boys Are Back in Town", the latter being Thin Lizzy's biggest US hit, winning a 1976 NME Award for Best Single.[1]


After their previous two albums, Nightlife and Fighting, failed to generate sales, Thin Lizzy were given one last chance by their label, Vertigo Records. The band wrote songs and collected ideas in a studio in Buckinghamshire in late 1975, then convened at Ramport Studios in London in the new year. The band selected John Alcock as their producer, as he had worked in the studio extensively. The band worked diligently through February on the album. However, Gorham and Robertson felt that the speed at which it was completed adversely affected its quality. Both stated that the tightness of the songs made the album feel rigid. In particular, Robertson said he would have liked more freedom to improvise his lead guitar parts. Gorham also criticized Alcock's production, saying that he didn't particularly care for his guitar tone on the album.[2]

"When I wrote 'Warriors'…" Lynott remarked in 1976, "the only way I could give any sense of heavy drug takers was by describing them as warriors; that they actually go out and do it. People like Hendrix and Duane Allman were perfectly aware of the position they were getting into. They weren't slowly being hooked. It was a conscious decision to go out and take the thing as far as it can go."[3]

Choice of singles[edit]

Initially, the song "Running Back" was chosen to be a single ahead of "The Boys Are Back in Town", the latter being seen as possibly too aggressive for some radio stations to play. Frontman and songwriter Phil Lynott and producer John Alcock decided to employ session musicians to add more commercial elements to some of the tracks to try to produce a hit single, and Tim Hinkley was brought in to add keyboard parts to "Running Back".[4] Guitarist Brian Robertson was against the idea, as he liked the song as it had originally been arranged, in a blues format with his own additions of piano and bottleneck guitar. He later said, "I took enormous offence to [the changes]. I couldn't understand why they'd pay this guy a fortune just for playing what he did. Listen to it and tell me it's not bollocks."[4] Robertson did not play on the finished version of the song and Hinkley is not credited on the album sleeve. Lynott said at the time that "Running Back" was "very much influenced by Van Morrison. I really like that song."[4] Hinkley later recalled, "Robbo and Scott were not keen on it at all but they were overruled."[5] Thirty-five years later, Robertson recorded his own versions of the song on his 2011 album Diamonds and Dirt.

Scott Gorham also revealed that "Romeo and the Lonely Girl" was also brought up as an option for a single, but was ultimately discarded, as "nobody was overexcited about it."[2]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[6]
Robert Christgau B−[7]
Classic Rock 8/10 stars[8]

On release, Robert Christgau likened the album's songs to Bruce Springsteen cast-offs, with Lynott's lyrical ideas as "boring", and Gorham's guitar lines as "second-hand".[7] Stuart Bailie of Classic Rock magazine, reviewing the 2011 Thin Lizzy reissues, refers to Christgau's statements writing that both Springsteen and Lynott "were indebted to Van Morrison and his Celtic soul" and remarks how on Jailbreak "Lynott's best attributes were coming on strong."[8]

In a retrospective assessment for Allmusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine describes Jailbreak as a "truly exceptional album", with "a dimension of richness that sustains, but there's such kinetic energy to the band that it still sounds immediate no matter how many times it's played". Highlighting Lynott's songs as "lovingly florid... crammed with specifics and overflowing with life", he says that Gorham and Robertson's guitar work is "intertwined, dual-lead guitar interplay that was one of the most distinctive sounds of '70s rock".[6]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Phil Lynott except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Jailbreak"   4:01
2. "Angel from the Coast" Phil Lynott, Brian Robertson 3:03
3. "Running Back"   3:13
4. "Romeo and the Lonely Girl"   3:55
5. "Warriors" Lynott, Scott Gorham 4:09
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
6. "The Boys Are Back in Town"   4:27
7. "Fight or Fall"   3:45
8. "Cowboy Song" Lynott, Brian Downey 5:16
9. "Emerald" Lynott, Robertson, Downey, Gorham 4:03
Total length: 36:15

On the 1996 Mercury CD reissue, "Angel from the Coast" and "Running Back" are listed as the second track with only one running time, making it appear to be a single song called "Angel from the Coast Running Back", and there is no third track listed. However, all the songs are sequenced as on the original LP release.


  • "The Boys are Back in Town"/"Emerald" – 17 April 1976
Some countries, including the US and Canada, featured "Jailbreak" as the B-side.
  • "Jailbreak"/"Running Back" – 30 July 1976
  • "Cowboy Song"/"Angel from the Coast" (Canada and US only)

Remastered edition[edit]

On 24 January 2011, a new remastered and expanded version of Jailbreak was released. This new edition is a 2-CD set, with the original album on disc one, and bonus material on disc two.

However, the track listing on the back cover is incorrect, listing only ten songs, while the actual CD contains eleven tracks. Also, the songs are not in the correct order. The correct track listing is listed below.

Only the bonus material on disc two has been remastered in 2010 (despite what it says on the back of the CD booklet). Disc one uses the same remaster as the 1996 edition. New remasters were made, but scrapped at the last minute before the release, for reasons unknown.[citation needed]

Disc two[edit]

  1. "The Boys Are Back in Town" (Remixed version)
  2. "Jailbreak" (Remixed version)
  3. "The Boys Are Back in Town" (Alternate vocal - remixed version)
  4. "Emerald" (Remixed version)
  5. "Jailbreak" (BBC Session 12 February 1976)
  6. "Emerald" (BBC Session 12 February 1976)
  7. "Cowboy Song" (BBC Session 12 February 1976)
  8. "Warriors" (BBC Session 12 February 1976)
  9. "Fight or Fall" (Extended version – rough mix)
  10. "Blues Boy" (Previously unreleased studio track)
  11. "Derby Blues" (Early live version of "Cowboy Song" recorded 11 February 1975)

The track listing was corrected on later versions of the release.

Original vinyl release[edit]

On the original vinyl release of the album, the back cover included a short story, which is also reprinted inside some editions of the new deluxe edition.


While touring to promote the album, in the US, Lynott was stricken with hepatitis. Finally, the tour management decided to cancel the remaining tour dates allowing him time to recuperate.[citation needed]



  1. ^ http://www.nme.com/awards-history/1976-606201
  2. ^ a b Oliver, Derek. Jailbreak Deluxe Edition Liner Notes. November 2011.
  3. ^ Salewicz, Chris: "The hardest time I ever had was in England…"; Classic Rock #219, February 2016, p53
  4. ^ a b c Alan Byrne, "Thin Lizzy: Soldiers of Fortune", Firefly, 2004
  5. ^ Alan Byrne, "Are You Ready? Thin Lizzy:Album by Album", Soundcheck, 2015
  6. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Jailbreak review". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2011-06-16. 
  7. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "Consumer Guide Reviews: Jailbreak". Robert Christgau.com. Retrieved 2011-06-16. 
  8. ^ a b Bailie, Stuart (February 2011). "Thin Lizzy - Reissues". Classic Rock. 154. London, UK: Future plc. p. 88.