Jailbreak (2CD) 8/10
Johnny The Fox (2CD) 7/10
Live And Dangerous (2CD + DVD) 9/10
Formed by bassist / vocalist Phil Lynott in Dublin, 1969, Thin Lizzy took a few years to find their style and success. The hard rock sound wall always tinged by Lynott’s Celtic roots.
After original guitarist Eric Bell came and went, and a few line-up changes that included Gary Moore, the band settled on a twin guitar line-up. Nightlife and Fighting were good albums, but it wasn’t until 1976’s Jailbreak, where the balance of Celtic and Blues backgrounds settled, that things really took shape. With Brian Robertson and Scott Gorham on guitar and Brian Downey on drums, the band found success and critical acclaim. The band were tight, comfortable and the iconic title track kicks off with aplomb. Thin Lizzy were one of the first hard rock bands to successfully employ twin guitar with interplay and avoiding a sludgy sound.
‘Angel The Coast’ is intricate, the bass solid yet not intrusive, a stand out track
‘Running Back’ is a more commercial track, and ‘Romeo And The Lonely’ a ballad where Lynott’s vocals take centre stage. Everyone will know the classic ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ which took the band into the charts around the world and has been heavily used on TV and radio ever since. Vocal and guitar harmonies make for a great track.
The album closes with ‘Cowboy Song’ and the brilliant ‘Emerald’, the latter mixing hard rock and Celtic roots perfectly.
The second disc features two studio demos, a rough mix, 4 BBC session tracks and 2 tracks remixed, with new guitar and drums laid over Lynott’s original bass and vocals. These have come out well but given how good the originals are, they are a little superfluous.
The subsequent tour had to be cut short due to Lynott suffering hepatitis, and he used his recovery to write what would become Johnny The Fox. Because of this, the album (released the same year as Jailbreak) was more laid back, Even with a few hard rocking moments, a solo or three, it’s still uncharacteristically smooth. That said, with the classic ‘Don’t Believe A Word’ a stand out track, it’s still a great album. ‘Massacre’ is one of the heavier moments and has the Celtic influence of the previous album’s ‘Emerald’.
Skipping past 1977’s Bad Reputation (recorded as a 3 piece), the classic Live And Dangerous album was recorded over the last 2 tours and saw the brief return of Robertson. With anything between a quarter and three quarters subsequently overdubbed in the studio, it’s still one of the blistering, outstanding and, well, basically, best live (or part live) sets you’ll ever hear. With Lynott’s bass turned up to 11, this was the classic line-up at their loudest, best and most overblown. While Lynott was not the best bassist in the business, he was certainly one of the most charismatic frontmen and the audience loved it. From the classics of ‘Jailbreak’ and ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ to ‘Dancing In The Moonlight’ and ‘The Rocker’, it’s a classic beginning to end. Two tracks not on the original set bolster well, and the DVD features 11 live tracks, in both video and surround sound formats.
All three albums come extremely well packaged, all without exception will make you think “This is how they should have been done first time around”.