Thin Lizzy – The Boys Are Back In Town

I always liked the imagery of this song.

When Phil Lynott was a kid his mother Philomena ran an illegal drinking den in Manchester, England. Phil was often with his mother in this den. Some of her most frequent returning customers were members of the Quality Street Gang (a group of criminals operating in Manchester, England, in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s).

He would spend his time observing the gang, their mannerisms, the way they talk, and the way they fight. All of this observation eventually inspired him to write a song about them called “The Boys Are Back In Town”.

The song was on the Jailbreak album. The album peaked at #18 in the Billboard Album Charts, #10 in the UK, and #5 in Canada.

The Boys Are Back In Town peaked at #12 in the Billboard 100, #8 in Canada, #8 in the UK, and of course, #1 in Ireland where the band originated in 1976.

A big part of Thin Lizzy’s sound came from Phil Lynott’s vocals and the dual-lead guitar interplay of guitarists Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson.

 

From Songfacts

This gave Thin Lizzy worldwide exposure. They were popular in their native Ireland, but unknown elsewhere until this came out.

This was Thin Lizzy’s only Top 40 hit in the US, but they had several other hits in the UK.

Everclear covered this for the 1999 film Detroit Rock City. Their version was later used in the movie A Knight’s Tale. 

This was used in commercials for Wrangler. 

Thin Lizzy were surprised when this became their breakthrough hit – because they hadn’t wanted it on their Jailbreak album. Guitarist Scott Gorham recalled to Classic Rock: “We were playing in some club in the US when our manager came in and said, ‘Well, looks like we’ve got a hit.’ We were like, ‘Which song?’ Seriously, we didn’t have any idea at all which song it was that had taken off for us.”

“To tell you the truth, we weren’t initially going to put ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ on the Jailbreak album at all,” he continued. “Back then you picked 10 songs and went with those because of the time restrictions of vinyl.”

“We recorded 15 songs, and of the 10 we picked, that wasn’t one of them,” Gorham added. “But then the management heard it and said, ‘No, there’s something really good about this song.’ Although back then, it didn’t yet have the twin guitar parts on it.”

The Boys Are Back In Town

Guess who just got back today
Them wild-eyed boys that had been away
Haven’t changed that much to say
But man, I still think them cats are crazy

They were askin’ if you were around
How you was, where you could be found
Told ’em you were livin’ downtown
Drivin’ all the old men crazy

The boys are back in town
(The boys are back in town)

The boys are back in town
(The boys are back in town again)

You know that chick that used to dance a lot
Every night she’d be on the floor, shakin’ what she got
When I say she was cool she was red hot
I mean, she was steamin’

And that time over at Johnny’s place,
Well, this chick got up and she slapped Johnny’s face
Man, we just fell about the place
If that chick don’t want to know, forget her

The boys are back in town
(The boys are back in town)

The boys are back in town
(The boys are back in town)

The boys are back in town
(The boys are back in town)
The boys are back in town
(The boys are back in town again)

Spread the word around
Guess who’s back in town

Just spread the word around

Friday night they’ll be dressed to kill
Down at Dino’s Bar ‘n’ Grill
The drink will flow and the blood will spill
And if the boys want to fight, you better let ’em

That jukebox in the corner blastin’ out my favorite song
The nights are getting warmer, it won’t be long
Won’t be long till the summer comes
Now that the boys are here again

The boys are back in town
(The boys are back in town)

The boys are back in town
(The boys are back in town)

The boys are back in town
(The boys are back in town)
Spread the word around
The boys are back in town
(The boys are back in town again)

The boys are back in town again
Been hangin’ down at Dino’s
The boys are back in town again

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

27 thoughts on “Thin Lizzy – The Boys Are Back In Town”

  1. That’s an interesting background story. For a long time, I had only known “Whiskey In the Jar”, a song I dug from the get-go. I recall reading somewhere that Lynott wasn’t particularly fond of the tune since he felt it didn’t sound like Thin Lizzy.

    The band had a really cool sound with their double harmony guitar attack. And they had many great tunes like this one.

    A few months ago, I saw a nice cover by Larkin Poe on their YouTube channel. Like they typically do there, it was just the two ladies. But they played it with such great energy that you hardly missed any backing band! I’d love to see them in concert sometime!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I like Whiskey in a Jar also…the tone of that guitar I’ve always liked.
      Phii’s vocal phrasing set them apart from other harder bands…and the double harmony guitars…though that soon was to be common place.

      I just listened to that version..the two did a good job of the song…a lot of fun. They seem to be enjoying themselves also.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess growing up like Lynott grew up that vibe went with it. Some of their stuff lyrically or phrasing…I see a little Van Morrison and Springsteen.

      Like

    1. Jim…every comment I make on someone else’s posts goes straight to spam…I’ve emailed WP to get it straight so if you don’t hear from me that is the reason.

      Like

  2. Thin Lizzy is a really great hard rock band–like Guns and Roses, but better. They don’t have Axel Rose. Ha! Jailbreak is a solid album. Cowboy Song is my favorite track off it. I always thought Gary Moore was in Thin Lizzy?…Guess I was wrong. Won’t be the last time…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Gary Moore was in them but only for a little while before this was recorded…now afterward that I’m not sure.
      You said it all…”They don’t have Axl Rose”….that is all anyone needs to know.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tell me when you do…Jailbreak is the one I would think you would know…maybe not though.

        Like

      1. Sounds good…. I just saw the video…Never heard that before. That was right before Lynott died.

        BTW…Wordpress is dumping any comment I make in people’s spam folder at this minute for some reason…I commented on your site but who knows if it shows up lol.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Definitely one of the better rock tunes of the decade. always liked it. Also another example of a band not knowing their own strengths, obviously if they didn’t like it or want it on their record.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That surprised me… Dave when you check your comments today…check your spam folder…most of my comments are going to spam on everyone’s posts….and some of yesterdays.

      Like

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