Jailbreak (album)

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Cover art by Jim Fitzpatrick
Studio album by
Released26 March 1976 (1976-03-26)
RecordedDecember 1975 – February 1976
StudioRamport (London)
ProducerJohn Alcock
Thin Lizzy chronology
Johnny the Fox

Jailbreak is the sixth studio album by Irish hard rock band Thin Lizzy. It was released on 26 March 1976, by Vertigo Records. The album 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 taken from the album include "Jailbreak" and "The Boys Are Back in Town"; the latter is Thin Lizzy's biggest US hit, and won the 1976 NME Award for Best Single.[1]

Composition and recording[edit]

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. They selected John Alcock as their producer, for he had worked in the studio extensively. The band worked diligently through February on the album. However, guitarists Scott Gorham and Brian 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'…" frontman and songwriter Phil 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]

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. Lynott and producer John Alcock decided to employ session musicians to add more commercial elements to some of the tracks and try to produce a hit single, so Tim Hinkley was brought in to add keyboard parts to "Running Back".[4] 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]


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.[4]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Christgau's Record GuideB−[7]
Classic Rock[8]
Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal9/10[9]

Village Voice critic Robert Christgau likened the album's songs to Bruce Springsteen cast-offs, finding Lynott's lyrical ideas "boring" and Gorham's guitar lines "second-hand".[11] Stuart Bailie of Classic Rock magazine referred back to Christgau's appraisal, writing that both Springsteen and Lynott "were indebted to Van Morrison and his Celtic soul", and remarked 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] In his review Martin Popoff described Jailbreak as "the band's last album where eclecticism outweighs the cohesive signals" which made later releases "much more singular in intent". He praised "Gorham and Robertson's sharpest metal to date" and remarked how the album is made of "a coterie of songs that very often struck the same emotional heartstrings of Springsteen."[9]

Track listings[edit]

Side one
1."Jailbreak"Phil Lynott4:01
2."Angel from the Coast"Phil Lynott, Brian Robertson3:03
3."Running Back"Lynott3:13
4."Romeo and the Lonely Girl"Lynott3:55
5."Warriors"Lynott, Scott Gorham4:09
Side two
6."The Boys Are Back in Town"Lynott4:27
7."Fight or Fall"Lynott3:45
8."Cowboy Song"Lynott, Brian Downey5:16
9."Emerald"Gorham, Robertson, Downey, Lynott4:03

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.

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. 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.

However, the track listing on the back cover of the first release was incorrect, listing only ten songs, while the actual CD contains eleven tracks. Also, the songs are not in the correct order. The track listing was corrected on later versions of the release.

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
1."The Boys Are Back in Town" (remixed version) 4:34
2."Jailbreak" (remixed version) 4:13
3."The Boys Are Back in Town" (alternate vocal - remixed version) 4:32
4."Emerald" (remixed version) 4:08
5."Jailbreak" (BBC Session, 12 February 1976) 4:04
6."Emerald" (BBC Session, 12 February 1976) 3:57
7."Cowboy Song" (BBC Session, 12 February 1976) 5:13
8."Warriors" (BBC Session, 12 February 1976) 3:56
9."Fight or Fall" (extended version – rough mix) 5:21
10."Blues Boy" (previously unreleased studio track)Lynott4:38
11."Derby Blues" (early live version of "Cowboy Song" recorded 11 February 1975)Lynott, Downey6:51
Total length:51:27


  • "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)


Thin Lizzy

Additional musicians

  • Tim Hinkley – keyboards on "Running Back" (uncredited)


  • John Alcock – producer
  • Will Reid Dick – engineer
  • Neil Hornby – assistant engineer



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[23] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[24] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[25] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ "NME Awards History: 1976". NME. 28 February 1976. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  2. ^ a b Oliver, Derek (2011). Jailbreak (CD Booklet). Thin Lizzy. Santa Monica, CA: Universal Music Group. B0015199-02.
  3. ^ Salewicz, Chris (February 2016). "The hardest time I ever had was in England…". Classic Rock. No. 219. p. 53.
  4. ^ a b c d Byrne, Alan (2006). Thin Lizzy: Soldiers of Fortune. London, UK: SAF Publishing. pp. 87–94. ISBN 978-0946719815.
  5. ^ Byrne, Alan (2015). "Bad Reputation". Are You Ready?: Thin Lizzy: Album by Album. Soundcheck Books. p. 92. ISBN 978-0992948085. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  6. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak review". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 16 June 2011.
  7. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: T". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved 16 March 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
  8. ^ a b Bailie, Stuart (February 2011). "Thin Lizzy - Reissues". Classic Rock. No. 154. p. 88.
  9. ^ a b Popoff, Martin (October 2003). The Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal: Volume 1: The Seventies. Burlington, Ontario, Canada: Collector's Guide Publishing. pp. 278–279. ISBN 978-1894959025.
  10. ^ Sartini Garner, Marty (17 January 2021). "Thin Lizzy: Jailbreak". Pitchfork. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  11. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Consumer Guide Reviews: Jailbreak". Robert Christgau.com. Retrieved 16 June 2011.
  12. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 19. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  13. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 4283a". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  14. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Thin Lizzy – Jailbreak". Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  15. ^ "Thin Lizzy | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  16. ^ "Thin Lizzy Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  17. ^ "Top 50 Albums of 1976" (PDF). Music Week. 25 December 1976. p. 14. Archived (PDF) from the original on 9 March 2021. Retrieved 30 November 2021 – via worldradiohistory.com.
  18. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 4303a." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  19. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – The Boys Are Back in Town". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 15 April 2008.
  20. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  21. ^ a b "Thin Lizzy Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  22. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  23. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Thin Lizzy – Jailbreak". Music Canada.
  24. ^ "British album certifications – Saxon – Wheels of Steel". British Phonographic Industry.
  25. ^ "American album certifications – Thin Lizzy – Jailbreak". Recording Industry Association of America.