70’s Pick of the Week
“The Boys are Back in Town”, Thin Lizzy (1976)
This song was number one in their native Ireland and charted well (12 in the U.S., 8 in the U.K.) other countries. With twin lead guitars of Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson; this song epitomized the male-dominated rock of the seventies. It has been used in just a multitude of things, recently in the show Entourage. It has been covered by Bon Jovi, The Cardigans, Belle and Sebastian, Everclear, and many more.
This song was originally supposed to be about men returning from war and was to be called “G.I. Joe is Back in Town”, but was changed later by Phil Lynott. The band ‘Thin Lizzy’ formed in Dublin in 1969 with Phil Lynott (bass) being the front man for the group for a long and successful career. The record company wanted them to do something that would be more attractive to an American audience so the song was supposed to ‘sound’ American. At the end Phil did not do that exactly...
Phil’s Mum ran a shabeen, (illegal drinking den) that a gang of the Manchester underworld used to frequent. This is what the album sleeve says the song was based on. The “Friday nights they were dressed to kill” part of the song may have come from the Manchester Soccer club that Phil loved, and follow his whole life.
Although “The Boys are Back” was their most successful commercial effort, Thin Lizzy produced 13 studio albums in their career, which arguably ended with the death of Phil Lynott in 1987. Co-founded with Brian Downey (drums), Phil was one of the first black hard rockers, especially from Ireland, and he penned most of the Thin Lizzy songs. The working-class songs were Phil writing stories about what he knew and to who he knew. Songs like “Whiskey in the Jar” and “Jailbreak” still get good rotation on rock-oriented stations. Thin Lizzy was a unique metal band that influenced Metallica and U2. Check out their albums “Jail Break” or “Live and Dangerous”, both very solid efforts.