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New York Town

Black 47

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Album Review

The Next Big Thing hype that followed Black 47 everywhere about ten years ago has long since slouched off to dog the heels of some other band, and its major-label contract expired years ago, and one of its most accomplished and distinctive members (piper and occasional Gaelic toaster Chris Byrne) has departed as well, but Black 47 continues unfazed as one of America's several good answers to the Pogues. Unlike other rock'n'reel groups that rely on traditional Celtic tunes and songs for the basis of their repertoire and muscle them up with modern beats, Black 47 is a showcase for original material, all of it from the pen of the occasionally inspired songwriter and consistently terrible singer Larry Kirwan; on this album, the band is also joined by such folk-rock, alt-rock, country-rock, and Irish legends as Rosanne Cash, David Johansen, Eileen Ivers, and Suzzy Roche, most of whom are responsible for the album's highlights. These include "Fiona's Song," on which Cash plies her dark, gorgeous voice and Ivers embroiders everything with haunting fiddle, and the two songs that feature the eternally good-humored Suzzy Roche ("New York Town," "Brooklyn, Goodbye"). David Johansen's talent is wasted on the jaunty but banal "Staten Island Baby," but "Black Rose" and "Blood Wedding" (both remakes of tracks from Black 47's early EMI years) make up for that misstep. Not essential, but not bad at all.

Biography

Formed: 1990

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Black 47 (a name deriving from the year 1847, the blackest year of the Irish potato famine) is a New York-based band made up of Irish expatriates and led by songwriter/playwright Larry Kirwan. In addition to Kirwan (vocals, guitar), the band consists of Chris Byrne (uilleann pipes, tin whistle, vocals), Fred Parcells (trombone, tin whistle, vocals), Jeff Blythe (saxophone), Thomas Hamlin (percussion), and David Conrad (bass). Black 47 plays a mixture of traditional Celtic folk music, rock & roll,...
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New York Town, Black 47
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