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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Black 47

Live In New York City

Review by Gary Hill

A document of a live show of this intriguing band, this is a fun album. Black 47 combines Irish sensibilities, instrumentation and lyrical content with jazzy horn sections and punk, rock and reggae musical styles into a very entertaining stew of musical entertainment. This album presents a fine picture of this band live.

The lineup on the album is Chris Byrne, Geoffrey Blythe, Andrew Goodsight, Thomas Hamlin, Larry Kirwan and Fred Parcells. Among the instrumentation used on this album are uilleann pipes, tin whistle, bodhran and several varieties of saxophone. Check out the Black 47 website at

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 4 at

Track by Track Review
Three Little Birds
A funky reggae based bass line begins this number, that has almost a Clash feel, with Irish vocals and overtones. "Don`t worry about a thing, Every little thing is gonna be alright." This one segues directly into Desperate.
Continuing the tones from the previous number, the Irish modes take on a higher prominence on this one. The piece is quite fun, and includes a playful jazzy saxophone solo.
Funky Céilí (Bridie`s Song)
You can really tell the band is enjoying themselves on this bare bones rendition of their most well known song. This fairly tongue-in-cheek song is a potent Celtic rocker.
Green Suede Shoes
Another Irish rocker, this one is quite Celtic while maintaining strong punkish textures.
Walk All The Days
As the rest of the material here, this one features strong Irish tones. It is a bouncy and entertaining rock tune that meanders around in jazzy sorts of tones at times. This one is actually quite quirky.
The Reels
Essentially very traditional feeling Irish reels with hard rocking overtones, this track features a chaotic, freaked-out guitar break before jumping back into the more traditional segments. The instrumental also includes a jazzy horn solo.
Fanatic Heart
In many ways a nice balladic rock number, this one really is more than that. It is an extended piece that includes Irish, rock and jazz tones into a very gripping and powerful song. This one leads directly into James Connolly.
James Connolly
Chaotic guitar starts off this strong rocker, which showcases more of the styles present on the rest of the album.
Different Drummer
Starting in a no-frills, rough-around-the-edges punk mode, Irish textures jump in for a time. As the song continues, a Clashish mode pervades with quite definite Irish vocal tones and the occasional Celtic instrumental flourish. Much of this song has a humorous musical flavor.
40 Shades of Blue
Introduced as "a song about alcohol", most of the earlier portions of the number feel quite out of tune, presumably to musically simulate drunkenness. This definitely succeeds, adding a certain depth to the piece. This is a strong rock tune with definite jazz and Celtic tones.
Maria's Wedding
Quite faithful to the original this rendition is groove oriented, punkish rock with horns. As presented here, it also includes a good amount of audience participation.
Like A Rolling Stone
A good fun jam, this is Dylan done with all the Black 47 standard sounds (punkish textures, Irish tones and jazzy horns).
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