I was raised on the idea that Jailbreak was Thin Lizzy’s magnum opus. I don’t know where this came from exactly – my classic rock station? VH1 programs on Much More Music? – but it seeped into my consciousness. And then it took me two decades to listen to it.
So, what can I say? It’s clear that Lynott is a better songwriter than many if not most ’70s hard rock songwriters. But it should be said that this is a low bar. Most hard rock bands are not about the songs, right? And I think what’s happened with Lynott, due to his death, due to his unique status as the only black Irish rock star of his era, and due to the relative literacy of his lyrics, is that his songwriting prowess has been greatly exaggerated. I’ve even noticed a couple contemporary reviews bristling at his reputation back then. And I must say, this is a decent set of songs for ’70s hard rock, but that’s it. No one song is remotely as catchy as “The Boys Are Back in Town” and Lynott’s lyrics are fine – again, they are superior for the genre but that’s it.
For me it’s the band that is really the selling point here. Now that they have that second guitar they’ve got a tiny bit of a Stonesy vibe happening when they jam – which isn’t often enough – and having those two guitars makes up for the fact that they lost their original, more interesting, guitar player.
I’ve only ever heard one other Thin Lizzy record and I will say that this one is produced better or, at least, mixed more normally. And so that’s a positive.
So this is definitely on the better end of ’70s hard rock records. They only sound like themselves – which, honestly is a major compliment when it comes to ’70s hard rock – they have decent, fairly literate songs, they have a good sound, and the recording sounds good to this day. But it’s really hard for me to view it as any kind of masterpiece.
7/10 I guess