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MP3 Black 47 - New York Town

New York City melodic rock with lyrics intended to make you think.

12 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Modern Rock, WORLD: Celtic

Monday, February 16, 2004

Black 47, New York Town (***1/2) Too long relegated to the fringes, this Irish-American band belongs to the diminishing ranks of rock acts that balance serious sonic thump with intelligent social commentary. The title track, featuring singer Suzzy Roche, raises questions about the causes of 9/11 as powerfully as anything on Bruce Springsteen''s The Rising. Guest Mary Courtney is the beleaguered wife and mother on Livin'' in America - 11 Years On, a riveting saga of strength and melancholy. Black 47''s ire reaches back to the Mexican-American War in San Patricio Brigade, about the U.S. Army''s Irish deserters who fled a dead end of poverty and discrimination to fight for the enemy. Poetic yet unambiguous, Town''s provocative themes and unsentimental stories give Black 47''s music both purpose and passion. -Edna Gundersen


To subscribe to Black 47''s free newsletter go to https://www.tradebit.com The newsletter goes out roughly every three weeks and allows those interested to keep up with the band, where it is playing, advance notice of all happenings and some extract or other from a play, novel in progress or just a commentary on the political and social doings of the day.

On Feb. 17, 2004, seminal Irish rockers Black 47 will release New York Town, their first studio album in four years, on Gadfly Records. New York Town is steeped in the same social and political fervor that established Black 47 as a musical force fourteen years ago.

Known as the "House Band of New York City," it is fitting that the latest release from Black 47 should be dedicated to their home town. As founder Larry Kirwan explains, "this is an album of photos, some now sepia-toned, others glaringly digital. It''s a love letter to the city that took me in (in more ways than one), and gave birth to Black 47." New York Town contains guest vocal and instrumental appearances from Rosanne Cash, David Johansen, Suzzy Roche, Eileen Ivers, Mary Courtney, Roz Moorehead, Christine Ohlman and Ashley Davis, Jon Gordon and Stewart Lerman. "I wanted to write about the city, both pre and post 9/11, and show what it''s like, from the inside, by featuring the voices and skills of some real New Yorkers."

New York Town is a musical melting pot of Rock, Celtic, Folk, Hip-Hop, Reggae, Country, Swing and Jazz influences. Kirwan''s lyrics ooze a palpable love for the city and place people from all five boroughs in situations both autobiographical and fictional. On the title track, the band tackles the social and political questions of 9/11 head on; "Ain''t no smoke without a fire, people want answers not patronizing." While Mychal - in cool, unemotional terms - tells the story of Black 47 fan, the late Father Mychal Judge, chaplain of the NYFD.

The ballad Fiona''s Song features Rosanne Cash acting out the tale of a young Irish woman who finds solace, if not happiness, on Queens Boulevard. In Staten Island Baby, David Johansen characteristically rips it up, explaining to a NYC police officer "in his pajamas pointin'' his piece at me," why he''s kept his daughter out until 5am. And in Livin'' in America - 11 Years On, Kirwan and Mary Courtney take an early Black 47 song and update the bittersweet relationship of a couple who first met in a bar on Fordham Road in the early 90''s.

Taking their name from the blackest year of the Irish Potato Famine, Black 47 burst out of the Irish pub scene on the success 1992''s Fire of Freedom (EMI). With their signature eclectic sound, socio-political lyrics and off-the-wall live shows they paved the way for other Irish influenced bands such as The Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly. Black 47''s songs articulated the hopes and fears of working people and they became the musical voice for young, politically aware, Irish Americans. Their cutting-edge, uncompromising lyrics are now used in political science/history courses in hundreds of high schools and colleges.

The band is led by Larry Kirwan (guitar/vocals), whose plays have been performed both in the US and Europe, while his first novel Liverpool Fantasy, an alternate history of the Beatles, was published in 2003. Other members include ex-Dexy''s Midnight Runners founder Geoffrey Blythe (saxophone), Joseph Mulvanerty (uilleann pipes), Fred Parcells (trombone), Thomas Hamlin (percussion), and Andrew Goodsight (bass). Black 47 annually performs 150 dates in North and South America and Europe. Their Winter Saturday night NYC shows have been described by the New York Daily News as "a rite of passage for all New Yorkers." Black 47 live is incendiary and legendary - they once closed down the town of Hoboken - celebrities rub shoulders with cops, writers, hard hats and students at many of their gigs.

Black 47 will embark on a U.S. tour following the release of New York Town, with confirmed two-show performance at B.B. King''s in New York City on St. Patrick''s Day. Visit https://www.tradebit.com for tour updates.

Black 47 - New York Town
By Alice Farrell for https://www.tradebit.com

Listening to the new release from Black 47 " New York Town " I get the feeling of being at an emotional street fair that runs the gamut of the ups and downs that this fabulous town can put you through.
I have been a fan, and proud to say friend, of the guys in Black 47 for many years now, and never prouder of their efforts. The polish and prowess has even put a new twist on songs that I thought I knew, making me look at them in a whole new light.

Larry finds that the inspiration came from "James Joyce''s statement that if the city of Dublin were to be destroyed, it could be rebuilt brick by brick from a reading of Ulysses. Old Jamesy is a hard act to follow but I used his book of short stories, Dubliners, as somewhat of a template for New York Town . It''s not a sequential portrait of the city, but is a look at the five boroughs in my memories and adventures before 9/11 and of the way it appears to me now, living on here."

There''s frolics, fun, pathos, tears, sweat, fire and humour, all the pre-requisites for a walk through this great city.

Leading off with the rollicking San Patricio, telling a tale as only Larry Kirwan can, of the brotherhood which sprung up between the Irish and the Mexicans who joined together, laughing in the face of discrimination, to build not only the buildings but the great neighborhoods that still help to give the city a lot of it''s unique flavor.

One of the underlying currents of this, as with many albums that have come out in the past 2 years, deals with Larry''s own take on the tragedy of September 11 th . I recall talking to Larry a few days after it happened and hearing the chilling story of him sitting at home in Downtown Manhattan, just blocks from the site, and hearing the noise and watch the plane fly by. This all comes into play beautifully in a reggae tune which brings to the forefront his own indignation at the spin-doctoring and patronizing that has become a too frequent sentiment among people here who wonder what is next.

The heart-wrenching "Fiona''s Song" a duet with Rosanne Cash is the lament of a girl who left her boy, and most of her heart, back in Ireland and now sits in a bar in Queens wishing she were back with him. It even mentions a bar in my own neighborhood, full of many faces that tell that tale all too well. The mesmerizing fiddling of the great Eileen Ivers and whistle and pipes of Joseph Mulvanerty adds the plaintive tone that brings Fiona''s heartstrings jumping right off the disc.

The fun factor is in full swing, literally, with the hilarious "Staten Island Baby" featuring the incomparable David Johansen on guest vocals. In creating this tune, Larry pays homage to Glen Miller and the swing era, evoking the strains of "In the Mood." A fun tale of a rock and roller considering giving it all up and joining the NYPD in order to please the girl he loves. Classic sacrificial love poetry as only Larry Kirwan can write it.

The standout tune for me on the disc has to be the song for Mychal, the chaplain of the NYFD who died tending to dying firefighters at the World Trade Center . The beauty of the man is as crystal clear as that morning sky was on that day. Set to the tune of "The Croppy Boy", it is yet another example of how wonderfully Black 47 weave traditional tunes into a fabric all their own. Larry tells me: "I always remember Eddie Furey''s words to me back in the Eagle Cafe in the 70''s. ''Don''t ever go near a traditional song unless you can add something to it. Otherwise the tradition goes and dies." Starting off with guitar and voice and building to skirls of pipes that evoke the smoke and flames of which Father Mike was never afraid, and is a love song to the light that he found in each and every person he came across.

More great stories round out the collection, including a revisiting of "Livin'' In America" with Mary Courtney of Morning Star, giving us the picture 11 years later of a couple for whom things don''t pan out quite as they''d hoped. It still retains it''s raw energy and I can see the people dancing to it in my head. The sultry uptown flavor of the funky "Black Rose" featuring the smoky vocals of Broadway veteran Rozz Moorehead. The Low-East-Sida anthem "Blood Wedding.", and the middle-eastern flavored " Fatima " a story of heart-break in cross-cultural relationships.

You can join in the walk around the city and pick up your own copy at https://www.tradebit.com or check them out live, something I highly recommend as well by checking their current tour dates in support of the release at https://www.tradebit.com

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