Thin Lizzy: "Jailbreak" Deluxe Edition CD Review (Universal) ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Thin Lizzy: "Jailbreak" Deluxe Edition CD Review (Universal)

Thin Lizzy: 'Jailbreak' Deluxe Edition CD ReviewThin Lizzy’s 1976 album Jailbreak seemed to be one of those seminal albums that everyone had in the late 70’s and the band won over a lot of fans on their 1977 tour down the East Coast (with Gary Moore on guitar, no less) with Queen.

Disc One is the remastered nine track (36 minutes) Jailbreak album. There is an internet debate going on over whether this remaster was done last year by Andy Pearce and Matt Wortham (as per the CD booklet) or whether that version was scrapped at the last minute and the 1996 remaster was used. Regardless, the sound on the first disc seems to have more color and life than my 1990 CD of Jailbreak without having any of the compression that has plagued recent remasters from other bands.

Here is the track list for Disc Two (51 minutes):
- "The Boys Are Back in Town" (Remixed version)
- "Jailbreak" (Remixed version)
- "The Boys Are Back in Town" (Alternate vocals - remixed version)
- "Emerald (Remixed version)
- "Jailbreak" (John Peel Session 2/12/1976)
- "Emerald" (John Peel Session 2/12/1976)
- "Cowboy Song" (John Peel Session 2/12/1976)
- "Warriors" (John Peel Session 2/12/1976)
- "Fight or Fall" (Extended version – rough mix)
- "Blues Boy" (Previously unreleased)
- "Derby Blues" (Early Live Version of “Cowboy Song”, Derby College of Technology 11/2/75)

The remixes are interesting as Joe Elliott (yes, the Def Leppard vocalist) along with Brian Downey and Scott Gorham have re-mixed and re-recorded these tracks to give a subtle, but noticeable recasting of the songs. As detailed in the 20-page booklet that accompanies this set, neither Brian Robertson nor Scott Gorham cared for the sound of the original album so there has been some tweaking, re-recording and rearranging of the songs. The most notable change is the adding of a voice-over and siren intro to the song “Jailbreak” which now matches with how the band kicked off their live show during the ’77 tour. The remix of “The Boys Are Back in Town” is fascinating due to previously unheard lyrics and this makes it difficult to tell which portions of the song are an 'early version' versus remixed.

The tracks recorded live for John Peel show (BBC) sound crystal clear and, while the band doesn’t add anything new to the songs, this recording clearly shows the power of the band on the live stage. “Blues Boy” is a slow riff-based blues jam from the Jailbreak sessions and the live work-in-progress version of “Cowboy Song” (aka “Derby Blues”) also has alternate lyrics from the final studio version and it is simply stellar.

Despite Robert Christgau’s bashing of the album at the time of its release -- “The proof of how desperate people are for new Springsteen is that they'll settle for this--even "The Boys Are Back in Town" is the sort of thing that ends up in Bruce's wastebasket.” – this disc has held up well over the years. (Note: Christgau’s reviews seem so out of touch at this point in time that it was little wonder that Sonic Youth renamed one of their songs “I Killed Christgau With My Big F*cking D*ick” after a negative review from the man.) The clear sound on the remastering of the original recording, a strong set of bonus tracks and an affordable price point makes this deluxe edition money well spent.

Thin Lizzy