Being that they are one of my favorite bands, their best album, 1976’s Jailbreak ranks as one of my favorite albums of all-time. I’ve often thought that it would make a great action movie, being that it is actually a concept album. As explained on the back of the original LP:
“DIMENSION 5 was now in the hands of the Overmaster, whose lust for ultimate power had become an obsession. Religion and media were all under his control and computer files were kept on all known living persons within the city zones…”The following is a song-by-song description of my imaginary Jailbreak movie, based off of the original lyrics. It can never actually be made considering its star, the singer and mastermind of Thin Lizzy, Phil Lynott, has been dead since 1986. Nevertheless, it celebrates the rock & roll, justice and women of Thin Lizzy.
The movie fades in on the Maximum Security Detention Center where Thin Lizzy is being held captive as the song “Jailbreak” begins. Everyone is dressed in drab prison garb except for the old, deranged man with a long beard that is only wearing rags. Anyway, desperately trying to escape, lead singer and bassist Phil Lynott finally sneaks out of his cell and during the first chorus attacks a guard, taking his keys to the other cells. By the second chorus the prisoners of the jail are set free and let loose on the building. During the guitar breakdown, lead guitarist Brian Robertson is seen slowly and delicately connecting the wires to detonate a bomb (“easy, easy”, he says with fingers trembling). The band is seen fleeing the guards as all hell breaks loose and sirens wail (“break out!”) and the music temporarily stops as…the bomb finally detonates! Outside, Thin Lizzy aren’t free yet, but Lynott (who takes time out to admire a good-lookin’ female), Gorham, Downey and Robertson defeat all of the guards in the final chorus and escape to the city zones – asthe most dangerous criminals in all of DIMENSION 5! The guitars ring out and the song ends on the burning remains of the prison.
As legend has it (ie., back of the album), all prisoners were eventually captured, "except four, who made it to the Rampic Buildings on the south side of the city. It was in these buildings that they broadcast and recorded selected material, some of which still survives today. Through these recordings they built up a following who eventually took to the streets in what was to become the Final War."
Listen to “Jailbreak”:
Before the next song, “Angel From The Coast” begins, the words “ONE YEAR LATER” appear on the screen. Now free, we join the band as they continue their guerrilla warfare against the evil, fascist DIMENSION 5 government. In a highly explosive and dangerous battle, the band seems to finally be defeated. But then, out of nowhere appears a mysterious female warrior that takes out the facist overlords left and right, saving Thin Lizzy in the end:
And the cops, they came like lightning
The bullets flew astray
And the noise, it was frightening
But the crook, he got away
Obviously, in case you weren’t paying attention, “the crook” is our hero Phil Lynott and the rest of the band.
As “Running Back” begins, we learn that Phil Lynott and the mysterious female warrior have become lovers. Accompanied by a sweet keyboard lick, we realize that this is a little more light-hearted portion of the film. Hey, even a revolutionary needs love, right? But soon enough we see the couple fighting and the mysterious warrior eventually throws Phil out of her apartment, slamming the door in his face. With nowhere else to go, Phil takes to the cold streets of DIMENSION 5. As he walks, he sings the song to the camera (there is a street performer playing saxophone for the saxophone riff, man this is an awesome song):
If I said I was sorry
Would you still leave me?
I never thought you’d go till you did
Listen to “Running Back” :
Interspersed are shots of Phil trying to find enjoyment in other activities, like playing with the band (awesome shots of the guitar solo) and hanging out in pubs, but nothing satisfies him like the female warrior did. Meanwhile, she is going through the same problem, meeting stupid blokes in bars and rolling her eyes as they give her no satisfaction. During the last chorus, Phil finally breaks down and runs back to the girl's flat (Thin Lizzy were Irish), but she isn’t there.
The next song, “Romeo and the Lonely Girl” is a continuation of this theme, but with flashbacks of Phil and the female warrior together. Near the end, Phil runs back to her place as before (Oh poor Romeo / Sitting out on his own-ee-o- actual lyrics) – this time she is home and they embrace. Turns out she was lonely the whole time as well! Oh by the way, there’s another amazing guitar solo in this song. Seriously, why aren’t you listening to this album right now?
Listen to “Romeo and the Lonely Girl”:
With the crucial relationship between Lynott and his lady intact, the battle goes on between the rebels and the Overmaster’s band of thugs in “Warriors”. Through a series of action montages, we see the comrades fight the fascist regime:
I am a messenger
The message here, you must know
I am the warrior
I deliver the fatal blow
So fate will have to wait
Till time can heal the scar
My heart is ruled by Venus
And my head by Mars
Honestly, I’m not really sure what he’s talking about at the end, but the rest makes sense.
In “The Boys Are Back In Town” we finally see the rock and roll side of Thin Lizzy. This song shows the band out on tour, playing the towns of DIMENSION 5, spreading their virtues of justice and rock & roll. There are, of course, long shots of packed arenas going crazy and close-ups on the classic double guitar solo in the middle of the song. Yep, the boys are back in town and they’re spreading their message of freedom from the tyranny of the overlords of DIMENSION 5. Rally up the troops, The Overmaster must fall!
Brothers fight or fall / It’s man for man and one for all / No more can we crawl / Brothers, brothers hear the call sings Phil in “Fight Or Fall” as he rallies the troops Braveheart-style for the big final battle against the Overmaster.
“Cowboy Song” takes place in a dreary, dark, lonesome rural part of DIMENSION 5 the night before the big, final battle between Thin Lizzy’s rebels and the Overmaster in his fortress. The “Cowboy” is Phil looking back on his struggles and everything else that got him to this point. It is an introspective side to the film, but there are also shots of the band playing alone in the desert, amps and all (not plugged in), especially during the guitar parts. Even great leaders have self-doubt, and here, Lynott questions if he is really ready for the Final War. Even in this moment of clarity, he can’t stop thinking of his woman (Lord, Im just thinking about a certain female), who has unfortunately died of a fever just days before.
Later in this song, Lynott sings about working on the rodeo in Mexico. Just forget this part.
Listen to “Cowboy Song”:
“Emerald” is the last song and the climax of the entire film. The battle between the rebels and the evil regime rages on throughout the song:
Down from the glen came the marching men
With their shields and their swords
To fight the fight they believed to be right
Overthrow the overlords
Listen to “Emerald”:
The battle intensifies during the extended instrumental freakout portion. As it nears the end, Phil Lynott breaks into the Overmaster’s secret bunker, kills the evil master and disengages the emerald that has taken hold of the city zones for so long (They had come to claim the emerald / Without it they could not leave).
As the final chords of the song rings out, there is a huge explosion, killing our hero but bringing freedom to all of DIMENSION 5 at last. And with his last breath, Lynott shouts out for his long-lost love.
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