Monday, 15 April 2019

Thin Lizzy - Johnny The Fox (1976)


Released October 1976

Released only seven months after "Jailbreak" had really pushed Thin Lizzy up high in the rock credibility lists, this followed the same pattern - an album of very loosely related songs (not really related at all, if one is honest), and the now impressive dual guitar attack from Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson that make it rock real hard. Phil Lynott's charismatic vocal and leadership of the band is now well established. Although it is said to be the inferior album to "Jailbreak", for me, I prefer this one. One reason for that is the sound, which is much better in its remastering* and also I feel there are some really good songs on here. As I alluded to earlier, though, it is not really a "concept" album at all, just as "Jailbreak" wasn't. Characters come and go in the songs, but in a Springsteen-esque street-style way, song by song, as opposed to having any continuity. Yes, the character of "Johnny" comes into a couple of songs, but the appearance don't really seem connected to me, past the obvious nomenclature.

The album's recording is said to have been fraught with inter-band disagreements - those old "musical differences" again. Guitarist Brian Robertson was sacked by Lynott, reinstated, then sacked again. Listening to it, however, you cannot tell. It sounds great from beginning to end.

* The remasterings listed on the 2010 "remastered" edition only cover the bonus material, not the original album, which remains as the 1996 remaster. This has been a problem for many, but not for me as I am perfectly satisfied with the 1996 remaster, which sounds excellent to my ears.


1. Johnny
2. Rocky
3. Borderline
4. Don't Believe A Word
5. Fool's Gold
6. Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed
7. Old Flame
8. Massacre
9. Sweet Marie
10. Boogie Woogie Dance                    

"Johnny" is a bassy typical piece of Thin Lizzy slightly menacing rock, featuring some impressive rolling drum work and guitar soloing. There are great hooks throughout the song. "Rocky" is also packed full of archetypal Lizzy riffery too and it rocks just as had. "Borderline" is one of those Lizzy rock ballads, with its souful and seductive feel. There is a bit of a laid-back slightly country rock sound to the song, although there is still a great rock guitar solo in the middle. "Don't Believe A Word" was the album's hit single. It is a riffy, chugging track with a convincing hook.

"Fool's Gold" is a magnificent, grinding, atmospheric rock song with wonderful guitar and yet another intoxicating vocal from Lynott. "Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed" is a classic slice of Lizzy funk/rock. The drums are superb, as is the bass and infectious "chinka-chinka" guitar sound. Great stuff. "Old Flame" is one of those Phil Lynott laid-back romantic rock numbers, in the "Sarah" style. He did this sort of thing so well.

"Massacre" is an insistent, grinding mid-pace rocker. "Sweet Marie" continues in the same vein. "Boogie Woogie Dance" was apparently not considered good enough for the original album but eventually ended up on it, as it should, for it is a fine, guitar-driven rocker. It has to be said, though, that the first six or seven tracks are the album's best ones, and, funnily enough, those are the ones that contain the best sound. Still a good album though.


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