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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Black 47

Fire of Freedom

Review by Gary Hill

This disc is a fine combination of many varied musical styles. There is a definite Irish bent that is always present on the album (sometimes in the music, sometimes the vocals, sometimes the lyrics, sometimes all of them). There is also a fine sense of humor running through the words, and the album really seems to tell a real life story. Personnel on this album are Geoffrey Blythe, Chris Byrne, Thomas Hamlin, Larry Kirwan, Fred Parcells and David Conrad. Carsman Rik Ocasek produced and guests on the disc.

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Track by Track Review
Livin` In America (Fordham Road 8:00 a.m.)
This song is a brief, lushly string arranged Celtic toned cut sung by a female vocalist.
Maria's Wedding
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".
Rockin' The Bronx
Celtic violins begin this composition, which suddenly switches gear to a rappish number, while still incorporating Celtic elements. The piece seems to be a tongue in cheek, self effacing autobiographical number. "I got a job in a band called Black 47, I was doin` nothin` special after 11, Well, we learned some tunes and wrote some songs, Bought ourselves a drum machine to keep the beat strong." "We got a gig in the Village Pub, But the regulars there all said that we sucked."
Fanatic Heart
Beginning as a pretty rock ballad with Celtic overtones, eventually the song takes on an odd jazzy, slightly strange rock texture for a time.
Funky Céilí (Bridie`s Song)
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. "Bridie broke down and started to bawl, When I told her about me divorce from the bank, She said "I`ve got news of me own, a stor, I`m 2 months late and it`s not with the rent."
Fire of Freedom
Featuring a very interesting juxtaposition of sounds, this cut is Celtic and Jamaican all at the same time. In fact, at one point there is a Caribbean rap segment with all the words in Gaelic. This is a very fun number. "Power to the people, sang Johnny Lennon, 20 years ago, We`re back at the beginnin`".
James Connolly
Another strong rocker, this one has jazzish overtones.
Livin` In America (Bainbridge Avenue 2:00 a.m.)
This is a reprise of the first track on the disc.
Banks of the Hudson
A jazzy rock song, due to the arrangement at times, this one seems like it might be at home, in slightly different form, on Meatloaf`s Bat Out Of Hell album. The number also calls to mind Quarterflash at times.
40 Shades of Blue
Beginning with strong Celtic instrumental tones, the first verse is nearly accapella and quite Celtic in tone. The song then switches to a strong rock cut mode and features a break in that earlier accapella mode.
New York, NY 10009
This is an effective rock cut with skaish overtones. "New York, New York what have you done, You`ve wrecked me 'til I have become, Half the man I might have been, Half the hero of my dream."
Sleep Tight in New York City/Her Dear Old Donegal
Open with sedate Celtic instrumentation, this one takes on a very strong slower rock mode with blues textures. It also features more mellow modes and jazzy tones. This is a very strong cut on a very strong album.
Black 47
This slow rock track has lots of leanings to it, jazz, r & b and blues, among others.
Livin` In America
Celtic rock and roll, this one features elements from other sections of the album. A slice of life piece (as is most of the album) this one covers, among other things, a romantic invitation, as shown from both sides. "I drink a gallon of foam, "'Til I`m feelin' half meself again, If she comes tonight, I ask her outright, Ah what the hell, nothin` ventured, nothin` gained, and if she takes a chance, she might find romance, Now she`s livin` in America." The cut trades between the male and female perspective and vocals. "See him standing there with the ring in his ear, And the grin on the side of his face, With the fag in his mouth, Oh, I should watch out, For they say he`s a real headcase, Should I take me chance or say "no thanks", Ah what the hell, nothin` ventured, nothin` gained."
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