CD Reviews

Thin Lizzy - 'Jailbreak' / 'Johnny The Fox' / 'Live And Dangerous' (Deluxe Editions) Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     March 14, 2011    
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The legendary Thin Lizzy are the latest band to have their albums re-issued as "Deluxe Editions".

The legendary Thin Lizzy are the latest band to have their albums re-issued as "Deluxe Editions" with extra discs crammed with bonus tracks and alternate versions. Whilst some in this series add very little to the legacies of the artists in question (see Rainbow's 'Down To Earth' reviewed elsewhere), at least the people with access to the Lizzy archives have found a few items that even the more dedicated fan may not have. Another big bonus this time out is that the albums have been completely remixed by guitarist Scott Gorham and Thin Lizzy super-fan Joe Elliott at the Def Leppard singer's studio in Ireland.

'Jailbreak' was Thin Lizzy's 1976 breakthrough album and took them to the next level with the huge hit singles 'The Boys Are Back In Town' and 'Jailbreak', and live favourites like 'Cowboy Song' and 'Emerald'. I personally think this level of success should have happened with the previous album, 'Fighting', but it was 'Jailbreak' where Phil Lynott's lyrics, distinctive voice and massively under-rated bass playing gelled with Brian Downey's unique drumming and the sublime twin guitars of Brian Robertson and Scott Gorham, at least as far as the general public was concerned. The bonus tracks on disc two include extra remixes of 'The Boys…', 'Jailbreak' and 'Emerald' with a superb bass sound, excellent pre-album BBC sessions of 'Jailbreak', 'Emerald', 'Cowboy Song' and 'Warriors' and an extended version of 'Fight Or Fall' that actually goes on a little too long. The previously unreleased studio track 'Blues Boy' is a straight boogie number that's neat to have but hardly essential, and the live clip of 'Derby Blues' proves to be an early version of 'Cowboy Song', but probably the most remarkable thing here is a version of 'The Boys Are Back In Town' which musically is hard to spot any difference, but lyrically has one or two slight changes to the first two verses but a completely different third verse. When you're so used to hearing a classic song a certain way it's pretty unnerving to hear something you don't expect, so it's a great one to catch your friends out with.

Lizzy's next album, 'Johnny The Fox' (also released in 1976), was a varied affair that continued their success with another big hit single in 'Don't Believe A Word', great rockers 'Johnny', 'Rocky' and 'Massacre', and even a little funk running through 'Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed' and 'Boogie Woogie Dance'. There were more laid back moments like the acoustic-based 'Borderline' and the tuneful ballads 'Old Flame' and 'Sweet Marie', whilst the superb 'Fools Gold' took Lynott's songwriting prowess to even greater heights. The bonus disc however isn't as interesting as the 'Jailbreak' one, save for remixes of 'Don't Believe A Word' and 'Johnny', and BBC sessions of those two tracks along with 'Fools Gold' and 'Johnny The Fox….'. The disc ends with less interesting instrumental soundchecks of four of the album tracks and an unreleased and untitled snippet of a piece called 'Scott's Tune' that sounds like an unfinished rough idea that wasn't worked through.

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'Live And Dangerous', irrelevant of it's alleged multiple sources, was always an iconic live album and here appears in it's original form across two of the three discs, augmented by versions of 'Opium Trail' and 'Bad Reputation'. With superb song selection and occasional extended guitar solos – the wonderful 'Still In Love With You' being a case in point – the 1978 release showcased most of Thin Lizzy's biggest hits and popular album tracks and was a masterclass in pacing and energetic performance. To be honest there isn't much here that a big Thin Lizzy fan won't have, but whilst the third disc features the same video footage that's been doing the rounds under the same name as the album since it was filmed back in the day, the audiophiles amongst us might lap this up for the 5.1 audio-only mixes of the same eleven tracks that are on the DVD. Personally I would have preferred the amazing 'Bad Reputation' album that came before this live set but hopefully that will come later, for now the essentiality of these albums is, in my opinion, the same as the order in which they were released. Some nice things have been unearthed here and they will probably turn out to be the definitive versions of these classic albums, whilst the crystal clarity and power of Elliott and Gorham's remixes are certainly a slight improvement on the versions released a few years ago.

Phil Ashcroft

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