Tuesday, April 7, 2009

April 7: Thin Lizzy, "Jailbreak"

Artist: Thin Lizzy
Album: Jailbreak
Year: 1976
Label: Mercury

Naming great rock bands from the US and UK is not a tough task. However, once you move into other countries, the task becomes far more difficult. Though the country has had only a few musical acts of note, Ireland is responsible for one of the greatest rock bands to ever release a record. Brilliant rock songs, universally enjoyed lyrics, and a legendary lead singer earn Thin Lizzy the title of "Ireland's Finest Band." Though they found their potential on 1975's Fighting, it was their 1976 release, Jailbreak, where the band is in top form, and would stand as their greatest record.

Blending genres from the developing punk movement to country to Irish folk is one of the things that sets the music of Thin Lizzy apart from others. The steady, dexterous basswork of Phil Lynott, alongside the crisp drumming of Brian Downey provides the perfect backbeat for Thin Lizzy's signature sound. The dual lead guitar sound that has become one of the trademarks of Thin Lizzy was nothing short of pioneering. Playing along with one another, and almost dancing around one anothers' riffs, guitarists Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson give Jailbreak the "punch" and drive that makes it a hard rock classic. In what is certainly a sound that had a massive influence on the punk movement, the guitars give Thin Lizzy's music an edgier sound than a majority of their contemporaries.

One of the more amazing aspects of Thin Lizzy's sound comes in the form of the voice of Phil Lynott. With most hard rock/heavy metal bands, the singer has a shrill, ear splitting scream. However, Lynott has an almost gentle, softer approach to the vocals, yet it works perfectly. The full extent of Lynott's vocals are displayed on Jailbreak, from the rocked out title track to the crooning "Cowboy Song." Part poet, part storyteller, Lynott's lyrics are beautifully written, and his keen knowledge of Irish folklore is scattered throughout his writing. While Lynott had already written many great songs, Jailbreak is where he mastered his own technique, and every song is filled with brilliant phrasing and wonderful allusions. Many times, his lyrics make him sound like the Irish Bruce Springsteen as the band as a whole proudly carries the "working class" torch in their sound and lyrics.

Jailbreak is certainly best known for it's duo of now classic songs with the title track, as well as the now almost cliche, "The Boys Are Back In Town." "Jailbreak" as a song, personifies every idea of the word itself. The song busts the album wide open, and it's a fast paced rock classic that encapsulates the freedom and feeling that "is" rock music. "The Boys Are Back In Town," (which was originally to be about a Vietnam Vet), was a hit all across the globe, and remains one of the most recognizable songs to this day.It is also necessary to note that once again, Lynott always has a keen eye on the details of each of his songs. The "boys" in question aren't at any old bar, they are at "Dino's," and this attention to detail gives all of Thin Lizzy's songs a far more picturesque and "real" feeling.

It is almost tragic when an amazing band gets lost in the hype of a single song. Over the past 35 years, Thin Lizzy has become synonymous with "The Boys Are Back In Town." However, the reality is, there is FAR more to this Irish rock band than that lone song. The band can be seen as the innovators of the dual lead guitar sound that is found throughout rock music today, and the brilliant lyrics of Phil Lynott still resonate today. Lynott's more subdued approach to rock vocals has also been an inspiration for countless artists, and he proved that you don't need to scream to be an effective lead singer. A sensational combination of groundbreaking music and fantastic lyrics, Jailbreak stands today as one of the best rock records ever, and everyone should own and love the entire album.

Standout tracks: "Jailbreak," "Romeo And The Lonely Girl," and "Cowboy Song."

1 comment:

Avi Baranes said...

Dear Music Guru,

First, I love your blog. I'm a huge music fan, and I enjoy reading about what album you've picked each day.

Secondly, I do love Thin Lizzy. I own the entire album Jailbreak and think it's amazing. However, that being said, I think it's a huge stretch to call them "Ireland's Finest Band." What about U2? Now, I understand you're not a huge U2 fan, but love them or hate them, they've done more for the music world than almost any other band. But, that's just my opinion. I do love the blog though. Keep it up!