Thin Lizzy-The Boys Are Back in Town (1978)

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Released 4-Mar-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 1978
Running Time 40:48 (Case: 55)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Rob Guillemott

Warner Vision
Starring Phil Lynott
Scott Gorham
Gary Moore
Mark Nauseef
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Thin Lizzy

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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Plot Synopsis

     The good news is that the recording of Thin Lizzy's visit to Sydney, for the 1978 2SM Rocktober concert, is now available on DVD. The bad news is that the video quality is no better than its predecessor on VHS video tape, and the sound quality is woeful. Anyone with more than a passing interest in rock music in the late 70s will remember the melodic bass lines, singing lead guitar duos, and smooth, poetic, lilting vocals of band figure head Phil Lynott. Formed originally in Dublin by Lynott teaming up with long standing drummer Brian Downey the band came to the fore in the mid 70s and were just about at their peak when filmed for this set in Sydney. The cracks, however, had started to appear with a punishing tour schedule and the emergence of New Wave threatening the established Rock Order. At this concert an exhausted Downey, having refused to tour 'down-under', was replaced by American session drummer Mark Nauseef. Guitarist Brian Robertson, having cut his hand in a bar brawl, was replaced by would-be axe-hero Gary Moore, who returned to the band for a short stint. Second guitar was played by Californian Scott Gorham, who provided some stability in the guitar line up. Dogged by variable commercial success and Lynott's increasing use of hard drugs and alcohol the band decayed in the early 80s and after a sell-out farewell tour that lasted over a year the band split in 1983. Lynott's health decayed steadily, and on Christmas Day 1985 he was found unconscious in his London home. He died a few days later aged 36 from multiple organ failure.

    Thin Lizzy Live 78 - The Boys Are Back In Town was filmed on a cloudy, windy Sunday, 29th October 1978 on the steps of the Sydney Opera House in a concert put together by 2SM and filmed by Channel 7. The concert also featured Wha Koo, and Jon English, with Sports was reportedly the hot act of the day. The 40 minute Thin Lizzy set featured 5 songs with extended versions of Are You Ready, Me And The Boys Were Wondering and the audience participated Baby Drives Me Crazy as encores. There were no punches pulled for the performance, and the black leather and stud-bedecked Lynott was in fine form, quickly establishing a friendly rapport with the crowd. Moore and Gorham also put in memorable performances playing alternating, duelling, and dual lead guitar occasionally lining up in a spine-tingling three axe line-up with a brooding Lynott playing bass in centre stage. Stirring stuff! It's been said that Lizzy's lack of recognition was partly based on their falling between the cultures of metal and pop but to me they represent the best of both worlds. Melodies from classics such as Jailbreak or The Boys Are Back In Town are easy to recall yet they could match the best in rock excitement with Are You Ready or Cowboy Song. This recording should have been a classic - sad to say it's just a taste of what could have been.

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Track Listing

1. Jailbreak
2. Bad Reputation
3. Cowboy Song
4. The Boys Are Back In Town
5. Waiting For An Alibi
6. Are You Ready
7. Me And The Boys Were Wondering
8. Baby Drives Me Crazy

Transfer Quality


     This video is on a par with a good VHS release - it was professionally recorded by Channel 7 and is probably as good as we could expect for the video equipment of the day - it would fall far short of what could be considered broadcast quality today. The camera work and edit is excellent with plenty of string and fret board action for guitar fans.

    The transfer is presented in its original, shot for TV, 1.33:1 aspect ratio and is not 16 x 9 enhanced.

    Clarity of the footage varies, close ups of guitar or faces are sharp but distance or zoom shots are grainy and blurred. Filmed in daylight with stage lighting there is little shadow detail evident and low level noise is confined to occasional shots of the rock wall on stage right, such as at 15:10.

    Colours are a bit on the sombre and washed out side, but are probably realistic considering the cloudy day. There's no chroma noise of note.

    There's not much by way of MPEG artefacts, apart from mild pixelization on some of the background shots such as the drums at 5:00 or the opera house sails at 16:34. Aliasing and edge enhancement are pretty gross on the black cords and 'the coat-hanger' when silhouetted against the white/grey sky such as 5:11, 8:30 or 24:00. There's the occasional video tape artefact such as at 18:04 or 20:08.

    There aren't any subtitles.

    The disc is a single layer DVD-5.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


      Whilst most of the reviewers on this web site aspire to the best equipment that we can beg, buy or borrow so that we can truly comment on the quality of the recording, as presented, we realise that there's a wide range of equipment out there in the big wide world that these discs will be played on. Accordingly I always play back the DVDs on a variety of equipment ranging from high end stuff to the most basic I can find (which happens to be my 5 yr old son's PC) as frequently I find that encodings that scrub up poorly on high resolution gear, look and sound pretty good on an average TV or HiFi. I'm sorry to say that this disc sounded terrible on anything and everything and even with a lot of digital processing I couldn't get it to sound acceptable - played straight through analogue amps it was nauseatingly bad. Something horrible has happened between the recordings on the day and their subsequent transfer to media - this isn't just an analogue to digital issue as reports of the video VHS release are similar to my observations. Quite honestly I've heard better bootleg recordings. The overall sound is as if you're sat in a field adjacent to where there's a concert going on, or you're hearing the on-stage support act playing whilst you're migrating through the lobby to the auditorium. The bass and drums carry and the vocals are distinct but the hallmark dual guitar sound has been badly degraded. The mediocre analogue origin is betrayed by flutter, particularly evident on guitar arpeggios, for example at 8:33, and hiss at moments like 8:50.

    There's one audio track of Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo recorded at 224 bps.

    Vocals were quite clear but lacking body and started breaking up and distorting at higher levels (see 10:12)

    I didn't spot any synch problems.

    There is no surround or subwoofer encoding on this disc.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    Simple 4-choice static menu


     8 pages of quite informative biography notes


     4:49 video featuring stills of the band.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

      Both the video and DVD release of this feature in the the USA appear identical to our R4 version apart from NTSC encoding.


      This was a great, although limited duration concert, which should be of interest to any of the 26,000 fans who were at the festival.

     The video quality is mediocre but passable.

     The audio quality is awful and spoils the feature

     The extras are minimal in quantity and basic in quality.

Ratings (out of 5)


© John Lancaster (read my bio)
Sunday, April 27, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDHarmon & Kardon DVD10, using RGB output
DisplayPioneer SD-T50W1 (127cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderYamaha RX-V995. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V995
SpeakersB&W 602 front/rear. B&W LRC6 Centre / Solid (AKA B&W) 500 SW

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Comments (Add)
this should have been great - gRANT (Read my bio, mmm... uncompressed surround audio) REPLY POSTED