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This rules! - 89%

TrooperEd, November 26th, 2016

Sophomore slump, my ass. As great as Jailbreak is, this album tweaked out all the kinks and made an even better model. Not to mention this is probably the most eclectic the band has been while still managing to rock face.

We have to talk about the greatest song of Thin Lizzy's career: DON'T BELIEVE A WORD! THAT RIFF! Yes the lyrics are once again testament to why Phil Lynott transcended above lyricist to poet, but this 2 minutes of heavy shuffle is the finest piece of music Downey, Lynott, Gorham and Robertson have ever recorded. Speaking of Robertson, loose cannon he maybe, we really have to think him for having the gall to tell Phil his original idea for this song, another ballad, was shit. I hate to levy such a harsh term at the man, but having heard the original version, I have to agree. Robertson in turn, to answer the inevitable "well can you do any better?" comes up with THAT RIFF. THAT RIFF(yes you must type it in all caps) is the greatest thing Robertson has ever come up with (and yes that includes everything on the underrated Another Perfect Day). It's very, very rare I call a 2 minute piece (and a hit single no less) the finest moment of a legendary band's career, but facts are facts. One would think to just turn the album off right after that track, and they'd be right....if they were a close-minded nincompoop. Sensing the greatness of what they had, Lizzy were smart enough to at least maintain a level of quality the best they could after Don't Believe A Word.

As for the rest, did ya like Jailbreak? You'll love this. A Thin Lizzy album is only as good as its weaker moments (or rather the Fight Or Fall moments as I mentioned them in that review). Matter of fact each of the softer songs all have something great to offer. Old Flame has an absolutely sublime vocal harmony reminiscent of Rosenshontz (if you're an 80s kid, you'll really appreciate that reference, if you aren't, think of the Righteous Brothers), Sweet Marie is a delicious Chinese acid trip, and Borderline is the country song the Rolling Stones wish they could write. Hell it's the country song all of these idiots floating around today could write.

Other heavier highlights include Rocky and the title(?) track, whereas far as I'm concerned so called "funk-metal" should have stopped right there. It's quite hilarious how many Faith No Mores and Linkin Parks try to capture the essence of that song and still fail miserably (maybe they should be less worried about being so avant garde and arty and more worried about tales of Skid Row where only black men can go).

But a special mention has to go to Boogie Woogie Dance. You'd think from the title this would be your average filler rock & roll number (and in Thin Lizzy's case there is nothing wrong with that whatsoever) but right from the get go we get with a fucking THRASH RIFF. Well, ok, a 1976 thrash riff (Priests's cover of Diamonds & Rust), but its backed up by an extremely ahead of its time groove-metal double bass drum rhythm from Brian Downey. The man continuing on what he started with Sha-La-La. Its kind of a shame this never made it to Live & Dangerous. If it got that extra kick of power it would likely be hailed the same way Priests' performances of Tyrant and Exciter are as proto-thrash. The lyrics are pure nonsense but who the fuck cares? Hide all expensive pottery before cranking this one, or maybe not.

Anyone who thinks this is inferior to Jailbreak can get a 70s Journey 8-track lodged in their spine. And anyone who thinks this doesn't fucking rock can get same 8-track lodged in their peehole. If you're ready to graduate after Jailbreak, or just plain don't have any Thin Lizzy albums, there's one of two perfect places to start, and this is one of them.

Recommended tracks:
Don't Believe A Word
Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed

Lizzy Begin To Raise The Stakes - 85%

brocashelm, April 21st, 2006

Having awakened the world to the strength of their music with Jailbreak earlier that same year, Lizzy stuck while the public was hot, and issued an equally stunning, and possibly more polished and mature effort as their next salvo. Johnny The Fox is something of a concept album, if only in fragmented style, a tale of desperate, righteous but hell-bent urban characters, much like mini-biographies of band leader and voice Phil Lynott himself. Lynott, like most great song writers was deeply personal in his approach, and wither his tales are bawdy, regretful or just plain cool, they always reflect some aspect of the man’s own odd place in our world. Or do most black Irishmen find it easy to fit in? Maybe it’s just me reading too much into it.

Anyway, the album punts off with “Johnny,” a tale of tragic addiction gone berserk, fueled by the newly urgent guitar interplay provided by Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson. See these guys had played well on the band’s previous three albums as well, but here they’re like caged animals let lose to ravage. Robertson himself proves that on the unbelievably great “Don’t Believe A Word,” one of Lynott’s most confessional songs about his own infidelities and shame. Not only lyrically heart breaking (but honest) this track’s guitar solo is alternately bruising and healing, wielding the perfect mix of bravado and sorrow to match the lyric. Just awesome. Also similarly amazing from the guitar perspective is “Old Flame,” one of the more evocative songs on its title subject ever written. Not heavy, but just gorgeous. I defy any red-blooded lad to not relate to its charms and ability to invoke one’s lusty memory. There’s also a little terse funk on hand (“Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed”) some tribal metal (“Boogie Woogie Dance,” dumb title I know, but this the still the seventies we’re into here! Kick butt guitar work here all the same) and a genuinely beautiful cut in “Sweet Marie.”

Ever evolving, each Lizzy release we encounter adds another batch of unforgettable songs to this band’s history, and indeed to metal’s. Johnny The Fox is history as far as this writing is concerned, but why stop here? Run, don’t walk straight to 1977’s Bad Reputation, one of the true jewels in the crowded Lizzy crown.