Searchlight on my trail
Tonight’s the night all systems fail
Hey you! Good looking female.
With those few words, any hopes that Thin Lizzy’s 1976 hit, Jailbreak, can be taken seriously are dashed upon the rocks of ass rock coast. But take one look at that album cover there on your right, and it’s pretty clear that maybe the band isn’t meant to be taken seriously.
You have to remember that the 70’s was a time of freedom for a lot of bands. Misguided freedom to be sure, par for the course to create an album full of braggadocio and thinly veiled metaphors for, um, doing it (“Jailbreak” ain’t about bustin out of the clink people), that was laid down on a bed of solid rock. In that sense many of the hits of that time have a lot in common with modern day hip hop, and unsurprisingly that style of songwriting was as patently ridiculous as it is now.
But it’s also strangely satsifying.
Yes, Jailbreak is a big, dumb, loud album that seems to want to deliver every single cliche about the 70’s to you, the listener, on a platter made of tasty, tasty guitar licks and riffs so groovy they still haven’t been worked out of the rock n’ roll canon. It’s all of those things but it’s also what many of those cliche’s are based on. Thin Lizzy were the progenitors of this stuff. They were the band to beat.
The hit “The Boys Are Back In Town” isn’t played all over the radio, television and god knows what else these days because it was simply a hit. It was THE hit that summed up everything that was good (and bad) about music in the 70’s in a nice, neat package for our eternal consumption. It will never go away. It is timeless as it is true. And cartoon or not, that song and the rest of it’s album mates are a seriously legacy for a band that may have been just trying to have some fun and score them some ladies.
Jailbreak, the album is the exact sound of how you rock. It is as awful and juvenile as it is hilarious and downright genius, and somehow it all just works. Thin Lizzy created a masterpiece of excess that is capable of transporting you back to time when it would seem that anything and everything is alright, the more ridiculous the better. This is van-rock gone high art, and the rock world has never really been the same since.
Or if you prefer