Thin Lizzy

The Boys Are Back in Town

Song Review by

Although the great Thin Lizzy was responsible for countless all-time classic hard rock tunes, undoubtedly their best-known Lizzy track is "The Boys Are Back in Town." A permanent fixture on classic rock radio the world over, the song contains all of the band's musical trademarks -- Phil Lynott's poetic (yet tough) storytelling lyrics, Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson's melodic guitar harmonies, etc. Before the release of Lizzy's 1976 release Jailbreak, the band had yet to truly break through worldwide, despite racking up a Euro-hit in the early '70s with a cover of "Whiskey in the Jar." But "The Boys Are Back in Town" changed all of that. The original title for the song was "G.I. Joe Is Back in Town," due to Lynott's admiration of the popular U.S. comic book/action figure G.I. Joe, as the lyric's dealt with a Vietnam soldier coming back from the war. According to the book Phil Lynott: The Rocker (by Mark Putterford), the main melodic guitar riff was based on the early Bruce Springsteen song "Kitty's Back" (from 1973's The Wild, the Innocent and the E-Street Shuffle). After unsuccessfully nailing the lyrics with the "Vietnam soldier" theme, Lynott changed the lyrics to a bunch of rowdy friends going out and having a good time. When the single was issued in April of 1976, it was an instant hit, reaching number eight in the U.K., topping the charts in Ireland (Lynott's home country), and climbing to number 12 in the U.S. The song has proven to be timeless, as it has become a staple at sporting events, as well as being used in T.V. commercials and in the children's movie Toy Story.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Jailbreak 1976 Mercury 4:27
No Image 1976
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution
No Image 1981 Vertigo
No Image 1981 Phonogram (Sweden)
Reelin' in the Years, Vol. 1 1983
Various Artists
Sandstone Music 4:28
No Image 1983 Contour
Thunder and Lightning 1983 Polygram / Warner Bros. 0:00
No Image 1987 Telstar
Dedication: The Very Best of Thin Lizzy 1991 Mercury 4:27
Sounds of the Seventies: 1976 - Take Two 1991
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:37
70's Greatest Rock Hits, Vol. 14: Kings of Rock 1992
Various Artists
Priority Records
Classic Rock Box: WNEW-FM 25th Anniversary Box 1992
Various Artists
PolyGram 4:26
The Best Rock Album in the World...Ever! 1994
Various Artists
Virgin
The No. 1 70's Rock Album 1995
Various Artists
4:25
No Image 1995
Various Artists
Polygram
Wild One: The Very Best of Thin Lizzy 1996 Polygram / Vertigo 4:23
It's Only Rock N Roll [Sony International] 1999
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 4:25
Amplified 2000
Various Artists
UTV 4:27
Legendary Harley-Davidson Road Songs 2000
Various Artists
Capitol 4:29
The Best Pub Jukebox in the World...Ever! 2000
Various Artists
Virgin 4:25
Dallas Cowboys: The Ultimate Team 2001
Various Artists
Alphabet City Sports Records / Alphabet City 4:22
Indiana Pacers: Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 2001
Various Artists
Alphabet City Sports Records / Alphabet City 4:25
A Knight's Tale 2001
Original Soundtrack
Sony Music Distribution 4:28
A Year in Your Life: 1976, Vol. 1 2001
Various Artists
Definitive 4:28
Vagabonds Kings Warriors Angels 2002 Universal International 4:27
30 Best Irish Hits 2003
Various Artists
Solid / Lunar 4:25
Greatest Hits 2004 Universal International 4:59
Going Underground: Teenage Kicks, Vol. 2 2005
Various Artists
Sanctuary 4:24
'70s: Gold 2006
Various Artists
Hip-O 4:23
Planet 70's 2006
Various Artists
Universal International 4:22
The Definitive Collection 2006 Mercury 4:24
Die Ultimative Rock Box 2007
Various Artists
Brunswick 4:23
Greatest Ever Dad: The Definitive Collection 2008
Various Artists
Union Square Music 4:26
No Image 2008
Various Artists
Warner Music 4:25
Noisemakers of 70's Rock 2008
Various Artists
Universal 4:24
The World's Best Ever Beer Songs: 10th Anniversary 2008
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:22
Dad Rocks! 2009
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:22
Million Dollar Riff 2009
Various Artists
Sony Music Entertainment 4:25
Total Drivetime 2010
Various Artists
Universal 4:25
Haynes Ultimate Guide to Rock: Dad 2010
Various Artists
Sony Music Entertainment 4:28
Rock Anthems [Universal 2010] 2010
Various Artists
EMI / Universal Music TV 4:24
Gods of Guitar [Universal] 2011
Various Artists
Universal 4:24
Waiting for an Alibi: The Collection 2011 Spectrum Music 4:30
Icon 2011 Mercury 4:24
Greatest Ever! Chartbusters 2012
Various Artists
Greatest Ever 4:26
Now That's What I Call Classic Rock Hits 2012
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:24
Icons of Rock 2012
Various Artists
Hip-O 4:25
100 Hits: Driving Rock [2013] 2013
Various Artists
Ultimate Collection / Union Square Music 4:25
Latest & Greatest Festival Anthems 2014
Various Artists
Union Square Music 4:22
Best of Classic Rock 2014
Various Artists
Universal 4:26
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Mix, Vol. 1 2015
Various Artists
Hollywood 4:29
20 #1's: Classic Rock Vol. 2 2017
Various Artists
Hip-O / Universal 4:27
Throwback Tunes: Classic Rock 2017
Various Artists
Hip-O / Universal 4:27
100 Rock
Various Artists
Universal 4:26
100% Rock Guitar Anthems [Mood Media]
Various Artists
Mood Media Entertainment 4:25
70s Mixtape
Various Artists
UMe / Universal 4:29
No Image
Various Artists
Strategic Marketing 4:24
Body By Jake: Randy Couture Workout Mix
Various Artists
Body By Jake 0:00
Classic Rock Icons
Various Artists
Universal / Universal Music 4:29
Classic Rock Radio
Various Artists
Universal 4:27
Don’t Quit Music Presents: Randy Couture’s Workout Mix Volume 1 ((Exercise, Fitness, Workout, Aerobics, Running, Walking, Weight Lifting, Cardio, Weight Loss, Abs)
Various Artists
Hip-O 0:00
No Image
Various Artists
Strategic Marketing 4:27
Greatest Ever! Dad: The Definitive Collection
Various Artists
Union Square Music 4:25
No Image
Various Artists
Strategic Marketing 4:23
No Image
Various Artists
Universal 4:23
Party Tyme Karaoke: Classic Rock, Vol. 1
Karaoke
Sybersound Records 4:28
Road Trip: 60 Essential Driving Songs
Various Artists
Union Square Music 4:26
Rock Icons
Various Artists
Universal 4:29
Rockwiz: Uncovered
Various Artists
Universal Distribution / Universal Music 4:26
Tailgate
Various Artists
Hip-O 4:29
The Best Rock Anthems ...Ever!
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 4:22
The Best of Classic Rock: Green Series
Various Artists
Strategic Marketing 4:25
The Boys Are Back in Town/Jailbreak Mercury 4:23