Thin Lizzy Album Covers


We’ve all heard the hits, especially “The Boys are Back In Town” and “Jailbreak.” And we’ve all pictured the images created by the lyrics, particularly of jails being broken out of and boys coming back to towns. Music-loving revisionists like to claim Thin Lizzy is an underrated band musically, but just as underrated is their album cover art. Take a look at awesomeness, starting with their self titled 1971 debut.


Normal by today’s standards, but nonetheless interesting. A car inside the fisheye bubble reflection of another car’s taillight inside another fisheye bubble. It’s somewhere to start.

1972 Thin_Lizzy-Shades_Of_A_Blue_Orphanage-Frontal

1972’s “Shades of a Blue Orphanage” found the band’s cover art trying to be the Band, “Led Zeppelin II” and the Moody Blues. I guess that’s supposed to be them as kids. I only include this rather mundane cover to set up the punch provided by the next entry.

1972 Vagabonds

NOW we’re getting somewhere! 1973’s “Vagabonds of the Western World” could not feel more 1973. This would stop any casual shopper walking down the aisle. One glimpse of this baby on the rack and you might think, “Is that Jimmy Hendrix? Visiting the Blue Meanie planet? With a bearded and horned Robert Plant behind him? And are the other planets crystal balls? And is this planet underwater? I can’t even read the title. WHAT IS GOING ON?!?!?”

Just hold on to your hats, buddy.

1974 Nightlife Thin Lizzy

If you were a child of the 1970s, then Thin Lizzy album cover art grew up with you. At first your parents took your photos, then you drew comic books, then you became a seventh grader and it was your mission to make everything “bitchin’.” We continue the planet motif (and in a way, the circular objects motif going all the way back to the first record) but add a panther. On a rock. In the middle of Los Angeles, I guess. Hells yeah.

1975 Thin-Lizzy-Fighting-NA

1975 “Fighting” is pretty standard, and is therefore the lamest. It’s like they wanted to beat the Ramones to the punch, but a jacket over no shirt with a little sheriff’s badge isn’t the way to look tough. Fortunately we can presume that there was a band meeting prior to the next album cover where someone said, “Guys, we gotta get back to our bitchin’ roots.”

1976 Thin_Lizzy-Johnny_The_Fox-Frontal

1976’s “Johnny the Fox.” We’re now six albums in, and I’d say only 3 come close to feeling like “Thin Lizzy.” That three includes this one, and it’s technically right on the bubble. Still, circles and moons/planets. And it seems that while their style may not be the sci-fi blues of Hendrix, their album covers are still keeping that torch alive.

1976 Thin Lizzy Jailbreak Album Cover

Their breakthrough (or “breakout”) album, and one of the inspirations for this post. You’d think with a title like “Jailbreak,” you’d have a picture of the band, you know, breaking out of jail. That’s narrow thinking. Expand your mind, man. This is 1976. It’s not just a jail – it’s a weird TV kind of jail. And they aren’t kept there by mere prison bars. There’s a giant silver Magneto-looking guy who tries to keep them there. It’s the rock n’ roll version of the Kryptonian Phantom Zone.

1977 Thin_Lizzy_-_Bad_Reputation

1977’s “Bad Reputation.” Maybe they ran out of money.

1978 Thin_Lizzy_-_Live_and_Dangerous

1978’s “Live and Dangerous.” I understand the reasoning here. It’s a live album, so how about a real photo. But couldn’t they have taken a real photo of a dragon?

1979 Thin Lizzy Black Rose

1979’s “Black Rose.” At first glance, kind of lame. But upon further examination, it looks like it’s a denim rose against a denim sky, and the rose is bleeding. It’s the mature version of “bitchin’.”

Thin Lizzy Chinatown

1980’s “Chinatown.” This is why I’m not a successful album cover art designer person guy. I would have stopped at the Chinese Dragon. I would have never thought to make that dragon have lazer eyes/x-ray vision beams. At least not since I turned 14.

1982 Thin Lizzy Renegade

1981’s “Renegade.” You: “Oh, it’s a flag. Big deal. . . waitasec is there an AXE ONTOP OF THAT FLAG?! YEAH!!!!!” Mind blown.

1983 Thin_Lizzy_-_Thunder_and_Lightning

1983. “Thunder and Lightning.” Kind of says it all, doesn’t it? This is possibly the origin for “Smell the Glove.” Like all good art, it asks gives more questions than answers. Does that fist belong to a recently-buried man? Did he punch through the ground and THEN conjure the guitar via lightening, or vice versa? Why is that guitar so far away? The answer to most questions could and should be “‘Cause it’s awesome.”

1983 Thin-Lizzy-Life

1983’s “Thin Lizzy Life Live.” It can only disappoint, due to a lack of flaming tigers or space Vikings, but at least the finally nailed the font.

See? Don’t you feel better knowing those are out there? And don’t you feel angry that more bands don’t try harder to be badass like this?


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