THIN LIZZY – Jailbreak / Johnny The Fox / Live and Dangerous [Reissues]

THIN LIZZY - Jailbreak / Johnny The Fox / Live and Dangerous [Reissues]
  • 8/10
    Jailbreak - 8/10
  • 7/10
    Johnny The Fox - 7/10
  • 10/10
    Live and Dangerous - 10/10


Universal Music Enterprises
Release date: February 8, 2011

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

If you think of the definitive lineup of Thin Lizzy, the chances are you’ll name the classic one with Lynott / Downey / Gorham / Robertson. Sure, Lizzy released 3 albums as a 3-piece with Eric Bell on guitar to a modicum of success, but it was the arrival of Gorham and Robertson that ultimately set Lizzy on the path to the stars and Universal have continued with the reissue of the Thin Lizzy catalog with the release of an additional three of their albums.

Although Nightlife and Fighting hinted at things to come, it was Jailbreak where they really hit their stride. On the back of the breakthrough iconic hit single “The Boys Are Back In Town”, which is still played regularly on TV and radio to this very day, the album went hurtling into the UK Top 10 and the US Top 20 for the first time.

Jailbreak was so much more than just a vehicle for a hit single. The title track was a pure out and out rocker, while the Celtic-inspired epic “Emerald” perfectly encapsulated Lizzy’s trademark twin guitar harmonies. These along with “Warriors” and “Cowboy Song” remain staples of the current live set.

Along with the original album, this reissue includes a bonus disc packed with goodies. Possibly the most controversial of all are the Joe Elliott remixes of “The Boys Are Back In Town”, “Jailbreak”, and “Emerald”. Tinkering around with the original sound recordings may not please everyone, but you’ll have to admit they sound darned good. Blessed with a much more powerful, fuller sound and more punch to the bottom end, a sharper drum sound and a greater all round clarity, they certainly sound good and great songs have just got better.

Also included on the bonus disc is a four-track BBC session from 1976 alongside an alternate vocal take of “The Boys Are Back In Town”, which features slightly different lyrics and certainly sounds a little strange when you’re so used to the original version. “Derby Blues” is an early take on “Cowboy Song” and is a fascinating insight into the development of this Lizzy classic.

As with most of the Universal reissues, the packaging is excellent with a full color, foldout digipack paneling together with an extensively illustrated booklet and detailed sleeve notes. The only downside is that the track listing is incorrectly listed on the cover, an error that really should have been picked up before the album hit the streets, although this doesn’t detract from the quality of the release.

Johnny The Fox followed just over 6 months later as the band found themselves in a rich vein of form and were eager to strike while they were still on a high. Maybe Johnny The Fox lacked the big hit single of its predecessor, but the quality of material remained strong with “Don’t Believe A Word” and “Massacre, an epic hewn from the spirit of “Emerald”, being the high points along with the Funk-edged swagger of the title track, which was pure Lynott… all cool, cocky, and dripping in attitude. No one could match Lynott on this form.

Again the reissue features a whole disc of bonus material. The Joe Elliott remixes of “Don’t Believe A Word” and “Johnny” adds a fresh take to the originals. There’s just enough of a polish to improve the song without detracting from the spirit of the originals.

There’s an additional four tracks taken from a BBC radio session including alternative runs through “Fools Gold” and “Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed”. Perhaps less than essential are instrumental run throughs of a number of the album’s tracks, which may be worth hearing a couple of times, but are unlikely likely to feature high on your wish list of Lizzy songs.

Again, the packaging and booklet are excellent but as mentioned before, the track listing is incorrectly listed on the outer sleeve and hopefully subsequent pressing will correct this anomaly.

During the period from 1976 to 1977, Thin Lizzy were right at the top of their game both creatively and on stage, so releasing a live album seemed like a natural step to take, and what a way to do it! Live and Dangerous is rightly considered an absolute gold-plated classic album and is regularly featured at the top of many all time live album lists. Whatever the rumors of studio enhancements there can be, there’s absolutely no denying this is one kick ass album. Featuring definitive versions of many of their classics, including “Jailbreak”, “Emerald”, a jaw-dropping “Still In Love With You”, and a thumping version of “The Rocker”, this just hits the mark every time, and even over 30 years later the recording sounds fresh, vibrant, and as exciting as it did when it first came out.

The reissued version adds live versions of “Opium Trail” and “Bad Reputation”… further adding to an awesome set list. The only downside is the album has been stretched over two discs, so maybe a few more extra tracks could have filled it out nicely.

A third disc is a DVD containing a show shot on the Live And Dangerous tour, with similar tracks as the original album with the addition of “Me And The Boys”. This DVD has been released a couple of years back as a stand-alone live DVD with bonus footage from the Thunder And Lightning tour, footage from the UK Top of the Pops TV show, as well as a bonus live album from Derby 1975. Alas, this bonus footage is absent from this version and maybe footage from a different show would have been a better choice, or an additional CD of live material, which has not been released before would have rounded this package off nicely.

As a stand-alone album, this is the definitive version of Live And Dangerous with the bonus tracks and the DVD adding to the impressive original album. However, for those Lizzy fans who already own the original CD and the Live And Dangerous DVD, then the only incentive to buy this package is for the two bonus audio songs. For those who don’t yet have the album, this is the perfect version for you to pick up safe in the knowledge that what you will be buying was one of the greatest live albums ever made, and with the excellent packaging and fine sleeve notes, you just can’t go wrong with this one.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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