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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Black 47

St. Patrick's Day Party

Review by Gary Hill

This new collection features music designed to help create the mood for your very own St. Patrick's Day party. The actual date may have passed, but every day can be St. Patrick's Day (or at least have that kind of energy and vibe) if you want it to be. These are new mixes of previously released numbers. As such I've reviewed a lot of them in the past. I've referenced those reviews here for the sake of consistency. This is a fun party album, but you kind of expect that from Black 47 and Larry Kirwan.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 3. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.

Track by Track Review
Funky Ceili (Bridie's Song)
When I reviewed the original version of this track, I said this about it, "This one got some airplay, including on MTV when the album first came out. With major Celtic leanings and more cleverly tongue in cheek modes of wording things, it is another winner." That holds true here, as well, but this mix is a bit more direct than the original one. It lacks some of the deeper layers, but the song holds up well like this. While I think I prefer the original mix, that might just be because of familiarity.
Celtic Rocker
Again, this arrangement feels more intimate or direct than the original take. Still, what I said about it originally still holds true, "A bouncy romp, this is another that’s very fun. It’s got a more straight ahead rock and roller and the lyrics are about a groupie. There is a pure Celtic break that shows up a couple times in this, but a lot of it makes me think of a Black 47 stab at something Bruce Springsteen might do. They give us a little Beatles brand of rock and roll right at the end."
St. Patrick's Day
"High energy and punky, this is fun. It’s got the Celtic Black 47 vibe to it, but there seems to be a bit of The Clash here, too. It’s great stuff." That's what I said first time around, and it fits here.  
Maria's Wedding
I don't hear a lot of difference between this mix and the original one, at least until the end. Here's what I said about that recording.  "This punkish groove oriented rock tune makes good usage of horns. 'Oh Maria, I`m so sorry I wrecked your wedding, You've just got to believe me, But just the thought of you taking your clothes off for that jerk, Oh, it got me drinkin` and then suddenly I`m staggering into church, And I`m dancin` like Baryshnikov all across the high altar.'". That still does a good job of describing the tune, but there is a bit of a modern mix on the closing movement.
Salsa O'Keefe
I said this about the song in the original format, "The title might give this away, but the cut seems to combine both Irish and Latin elements. It’s a catchy little pop rocker. It’s instantly recognizable as Black 47, but it’s a new twist on the sound." I think that still holds true here, but this mix feels a bit less layered and more direct. 
Culchie Prince
Here's what I said about this one the first time around, "A rocking backdrop is combined with a real Irish jig as this starts. This is very much a new classic Black 47 tune. It’s not anything surprising. It is very entertaining." The tone of this has more of that immediacy and modern mix to it.
Staten Island Baby (with David Johansen)
I don't think I've reviewed this song before. The drum bit that opens this reminds me of the start of a Black Sabbath song. The tune works out to a cool, jazzy rock and roll groove. I dig the duet between Kirwan and Johansen. There is a real "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" aspect to this thing. It's a fun number.
The Reels
This is a live recording. I believe it's the same version I reviewed from a live Black 47 album. Here's what I said of that recording: 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.
James Connolly
This sounds like a remix of the original version of this number. The cut is actually one of my favorites from Fires of Freedom. Here is seems stripped back to the most basic tracks, with an echoey effect on the vocals. I think I prefer the original mix, but there is a certain charm this mix brings to it.
Five Points
Here's another tune I don't think I've previously reviewed. Starting with just guitar and Kirwan's vocals, this turns into a bouncy kind of Celtic rocker that's a lot of fun. It really feels like it would have fit well on Fire of Freedom. It has plenty of traditional Celtic sound in the mix.
Rockin' The Bronx
This is a remix of a song from Fire of Freedom. It captures the rap and vibe of the original jam here, but with a less filled out arrangement. It works well in this format. This one sounds different enough from the original version that I went with a new review. There is an edit of a word on the version from the original album. Here they include the actual word without the edit.
Johnny Comes a'Courtin
Here's what I said about the original version of this cut. "This song is about the lesser known Irish slave trade that occurred in the 1600 and 1700s. It also seems to have a cloud with a silver lining element to it. It’s a bittersweet tale. There is some reggae added to the classic Black 47 sound. I love the back and forth verses between the Father and daughter.: This holds true, but I'd say that those reggae elements are more prominent in this mix.
Izzy's Irish Rose
The first time I reviewed this cut I said, "Bouncy and more purely Celtic, this is a cool tune. It might not be as strong as some of the other stuff, but the dosage of variety it provides allows it to shine just as brightly. Of course, all that said, a killer klesmer jam later in the track is an unexpected twist – and very cool." That holds true of this version, too.
Those Saints
Here we get a live tune that I've not reviewed before. They rework "When the Saint Come Marching In" with a Celtic edge for the introduction. That gives way to a more standard Black 47 sound for the entrance of the vocals. This is a particularly energized and rocking number. The bring more of a jazz texture to some of the breaks on this thing. The tune is so fun. Later portions do a great job of merging Dixieland with Celtic sounds. They even take it out into a full-on version of "When the Saints..." at the end.
Paddy's Got a Brand New Reel
There is a bit of a techno edge to the arrangement here. This is another first time review for me. This still has some real Celtic angles to it, but overall it's more electronic meets techno in style. It's intriguing and brings some variety to the set.
I Got Laid on James Joyce's Grave
I've not reviewed the closing tune, either. This is a live recording. Percussion leads them out of that gate. This is a powerhouse jam that's a lot of fun.
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