Sunday, April 21, 2013

April 21st, 2013 - "Tonight There's Gonna Be A [Beer]Break..."

Arguably one of the greatest hard rock albums of the 1970s (nay, of all time) and most certainly one of the most influential, Thin Lizzy's "Jailbreak" is a quintessential album for any serious rocker.  Today this legendary Irish rocker is getting paired with another Irish original, a Smithwick's Ale (the oldest Irish ale still being brewed!) from Guinness (Smithwick's Brewery/Irish Ale Breweries Ltd. was bought out by Guinness earlier this yearand the Smithwick's brewing was moved to Dublin.) 

"Jailbreak" is the sixth studio album by Thin Lizzy and was released in March of 1976.  Founded in 1969 by Phil Lynott (bass/vocals) and Brian Downey (drums) in Dublin, Ireland, Thin Lizzy is a powerhouse of musical composition, delivery, and integrity.  Lynott's writing alone is worth the price of every song.  Music critic John Dougan once wrote, "As the band's creative force, Lynott was a more insightful and intelligent writer than many of his ilk, preferring slice-of-life working-class dramas of love and hate influenced by Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, and virtually all of the Irish literary tradition."  And that same approach is definitely apparent on this album!  Opener and title track, "Jailbreak" is just plain rocking genius as is "Angel From The Coast"!  And then of course there's the Springsteen-esque groove of "Running Back" and "Romeo And The Lonely Girl"... honest, passionate songs dealing with heartbreak.  "Warrior" is a straight-up, kick-ass rocker and "Emerald" looks at the plight of the Irish people.  The ballad "Fight Or Fall" swings like nobody's business and the infamous "The Boys Are Back In Town" was of course their biggest hit.  Admittedly this song is very overplayed, but I love it and always will.  My favorite track on the album is "Cowboy Song"... it may be my favorite Thin Lizzy song actually.  The dual guitar work of Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson is an awe-inspiring wall of tone and depth while Lynott and Downey deliver a wonderful rich and grooving rhythm section.  And of course, Lynott's smoky and smooth vocals are unparalleled.  The best description I've seen about this legendary album comes from Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic who described "Jailbreak" as a "truly exceptional album."  [It is characterized by] "a dimension of richness that sustains, but there's such kinetic energy to the band that it still sounds immediate no matter how many times it's played".   Indeed... well stated Mr. Erlewine!!

Irish Red Ales are characterized by well-rounded, lighter (easy-drinking) flavors and a wonderful warm reddish hue.  They tend to be a bit sweet, malty, and have an almost herbal tea-like bitterness.  You also find a dextrinous character with many Irish Reds.  Fitting this same bill, Smithwick's Ale pours a somewhat hazy, deep mahogany red with a tan, 1-finger head that displays good lacing and retention.  The nose is malty, nutty, and woodsy with a slight smokiness.  Light-bodied with mellow carbonation, the mouthfeel is somewhat frothy and very smooth.  The flavor is rather mellow, but very good.  There are some nice biscuity notes along with some sweeter toffees and hint of nuts.  It has a nice clean finish with just a hint of buttery dextrin, but nothing bothersome.  I actually think it gives it some nice depth.  Definitely a good beer to go with the true rock and roll spirit of "Jailbreak"!

This pairing goes out to my fellow Thin Lizzy fan, Kevin Kirk! Cheers buddy!! (This pairing is also dedicated to the memory of Mr. Phil Lynott who died in January of 1986, almost exactly 10 years after recording sessions ended for "Jailbreak".  He died from pneumonia and heart failure due to sepsis. He was only 36 years old. Rest in peace Mr. Lynott! You are missed!)


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