Jailbreak (album)

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Jailbreak
Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak.jpg
Cover art by Jim Fitzpatrick
Studio album by Thin Lizzy
Released26 March 1976
RecordedDecember 1975 – February 1976
StudioRamport Studios, London, UK
GenreHard rock, blues rock
Length36:15
LabelVertigo
Mercury (US only)
ProducerJohn Alcock
Thin Lizzy chronology
Fighting
(1975)
Jailbreak
(1976)
Johnny the Fox
(1976)

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 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. 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, 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]

Tour[edit]

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]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic5/5 stars[6]
Robert ChristgauB−[7]
Classic Rock8/10 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 listings[edit]

Side one
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
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
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
6."The Boys Are Back in Town"Lynott4:27
7."Fight or Fall"Lynott3:45
8."Cowboy Song"Lynott, Brian Downey5:16
9."Emerald"Lynott, Robertson, Downey, Gorham4:03

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
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
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

Singles[edit]

  • "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)

Personnel[edit]

Thin Lizzy
Additional musicians
Production
  • John Alcock – producer
  • Will Reid Dick – engineer
  • Neil Hornby – assistant engineer

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Country Organization Year Sales
USA RIAA 1977 Gold (+ 500,000) [16]
UK BPI 1976 Gold (+ 100,000)[17]
Canada CRIA 1979 Gold (+ 50,000)[18]

References[edit]

  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, California: 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. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "Consumer Guide Reviews: Jailbreak". Robert Christgau.com. Retrieved 16 June 2011.
  8. ^ a b Bailie, Stuart (February 2011). "Thin Lizzy - Reissues". Classic Rock. No. 154. p. 88.
  9. ^ "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 25, No. 20, August 14, 1976". Library and Archives Canada. 14 August 1976. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  10. ^ a b c "Thin Lizzy Official Charts". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  11. ^ "Thin Lizzy Chart History – Billboard 200". Billboard.com. Billboard. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  12. ^ "Thin Lizzy – Jailbreak (Album)". Swedishcharts.com. Media Control Charts. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  13. ^ "The Irish Cahrts: search for Thin Lizzy". Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  14. ^ "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 25, No. 20, August 14, 1976". Library and Archives Canada. 14 August 1976. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  15. ^ a b "Thin Lizzy Chart History: Hot 100". Billboard.com. Billboard. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  16. ^ "RIAA Gold & Platinum Database: Search for Thin Lizzy". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  17. ^ "BPI Awards Database: Search for Thin Lizzy". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  18. ^ "Gold Platinum Search for Thin Lizzy". Music Canada. Retrieved 3 March 2018.