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

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Thin Lizzy: "Johnny The Fox" Deluxe Edition CD Review (Universal)

Thin Lizzy: 'Johnny The Fox' Deluxe Edition CD Review (Universal) Johnny The Fox was was Thin Lizzy's second release in 1976, and seventh disc overall, which which was written after Phil Lynott was sidelined during the band's US tour with Rainbow with a serious bout with hepatitis.

Joe Elliott commented in the disc's liner notes that he felt this disc was better than Jailbreak but, for whatever reason, the disc didn't seem to make an impact in the US. After listening to Johnny the Fox now thirty-five years after its original release, the disc is more introspective than Jailbreak and Bad Reputation. There are a number of solid songs on the disc (like "Don't Believe a Word" and "Borderline") but many of the songs are narrative-driven mini-vignettes that showcase Lynott's lyrical prowess but lack the 'punch' of the singles from either of the two aforementioned discs.

Disc One is the "remastered" ten track (36 minutes) Johnny the Fox album. The ranging internet debate seems to have reached a consensus that this is the 1996 remaster as opposed to the remaster that was done last year by Andy Pearce and Matt Wortham (as per the CD booklet). As I just had a vinyl copy of this record, I can't offer any direct opinions.

The eleven tracks (38 minutes) on Disc Two are, unfortunately, a mixed bag.

Here is the track list:
- "Don't Believe a Word" (Remixed version)
- "Johnny" (Remixed version)
- "Don't Believe a Word" (BBC Sessions 11/10/1976)
- "Johnny the Fox Meets Jimmy the Weed" (BBC Sessions 11/10/1976)
- "Fools Gold" (BBC Sessions 11/10/1976)
- "Johnny" (BBC Sessions 11/10/1976)
- "Fool's Gold" (Instrumental run-through)
- "Johnny the Fox Meets Jimmy the Weed" (Instrumental run-through - extended version)
- "Rocky" (Instrumental run-through)
- "Massacre" (Instrumental take)
- "Scott's Tune"

The two Joe Elliott remixes are nowhere near as striking as the remixes on Jailbreak. If you listen closely, the songs have a bit more punch but there isn't enough difference to make the average listener sit up and take notice. In an interview with, Joe Elliott described the remastering process as follows: "We started to filter all the bad stuff out and then set about building each track up again. For instance we had Phil Lynott’s bass parts from 30 years ago coming through a 2010 bass amp and it sounded incredible. We did the same thing with the drums. We kept the guitar parts that everyone is familiar with but recorded a lot of new rhythms.".

The BBC tracks could have been the gem of this collection but "Johnny the Fox Meets Jimmy the Weed" and "Fools Gold" are studio tracks that were aired on the BBC (not performed live on the BBC). The three instrumental takes are simply that - instrumental run-throughs of the songs that are pretty much on par with the finished studio versions. These are interesting to some degree (i.e. a longer version of "Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy the Weed" that kicks off with a false start) but none of these tracks warrant repeated plays. The final cut, "Scott's Tune", is just a two minute guitar jam - like the other instrumentals, no big deal.

Unfortunately, the price point on Amazon ($21.75 new / $17.89 used) for this set is still too steep to warrant recommending picking this up.

Thin Lizzy