I think that the decision for the placement of Salsa O’Keefe by Black 47 as the opening track of The new album Last Call( and perhaps their final one before disbanding later this year) celebrates their years in the music world as the one and only band that fuses Irish and Reggae while maintaining that Punk Rock energy. Wow the last one? You mean to say that perhaps we will never get to hear them together again? But knowing how passionate these guys are, I am sure we will hear them in various incarnations. I guess it is not easy to carry a huge band like this especially in this changing landscape of the music industry. Maybe these questions will be answered once I hear from the main guy Larry Kirwan.
Last Call could be the unapologetic tongue in cheek take on what it means to be Irish in New York city. But when I read the press release it says here that : , (Last Call)explores the life and psyche of Irish playwright, Brendan Behan, model for Shane McGowan and a host of Celtic rockers. No wonder I feel that poetic passion all over the songs. Culchie Prince features a fantastic uilleann pipe, tin whistle and a whole bunch of traditional Irish instruments on top of what could be one for the greatest modern rock song in history.
Let the People In celebrates diversity and explores themes covering immigration. You check out the lyrics because I know this will stir up that patriotic string in your heart and reminds us the reasons why America is called the land of the free. There are thirteen songs and every song has its ‘style’ to show. It closes with an interesting cover of Stephen Foster’s Hard Times. Like I said this could be the last album you will hear from this legendary band so better grab your copies. We fans keep the music alive!
‘LAST CALL’ for BLACK 47
“On ‘Last Call’, Black 47 serves a 200 proof cocktail made with a shot of funk and two fingers of Irish malarkey thrown in for good measure. Larry Kirwan saves the best for last, using roots, rock, and reggae to bring the final curtain down on the most influential Irish American band in history.”
Mike Farragher, The Irish Voice
In November 1989, Ed Koch was serving out the last days of his mayoralty and an earthquake had recently hit the World Series in San Francisco when Black 47 set out for its first gig in the Bronx. After 2500 shows and 14 CDs the “house band of New York City” will disband in November 2014 exactly 25 years later. Rather than resting on any laurels, Black 47 will release its final album, Last Call on Feb. 25th.
“We decided to go out when we’re ahead and, as always, on our own terms,” said leader, Larry Kirwan. “The band has never sounded better so why not record some songs and explore new ground.”
That they do, the lead track Salsa O’Keefe rips into a Rock-Salsa groove while describing the sassy daughter of an inter-racial couple from Bayamón, Puerto Rico and Cultimagh, Co. Mayo. Always interested in filling the dance floor, Black 47 explores the world of EDM in Dublin Days, a hymn to lost love and international student exchange.
On The Night The Showbands Died Kirwan looks back at a hero, Fran O’Toole, killed in the 1975 Miami Showband massacre in Northern Ireland. While the band takes no prisoners in US of A 2014, a state of the union Rap-Rock anthem, and Let The People In – a demand for more logical & humane immigration laws.
Black 47, a pioneer of rock biography songs, explores the life and psyche of Irish playwright, Brendan Behan, model for Shane McGowan and a host of Celtic rockers. Oona Roche, niece of The Roches, makes a vital debut on Johnny Comes a’Courtin a Reggae account of a young woman exiled by Oliver Cromwell to the sugar plantations of the Caribbean. But overall Last Call is a testament to the band’s belief in Rock ‘n Roll redemption as they swagger along on Culchie Prince, Queen of Coney Island, and Shanty Irish Baby until they round off the album with an uplifting version of Stephen Foster’s Hard Times – fitting enough given Kirwan’s recent success with his musical about the father of American music.
Formed by Chris Byrne an NYPD detective and Kirwan, a playwright, Black 47 – who took their name from the worst year of the Irish Potato Famine – caused an immediate stir by introducing original music and political context into the Irish bar scene. “It was a bracing sound, we were setting Irish jigs and reels to Hip-Hop beats, singing about James Connolly and Michael Collins, while creating pub anthems like Livin’ in America and 40 Shades of Green.” Soon Black 47 was signed to EMI Records, Funky Ceili lit up FM Radio and MTV, and the band became a feature on Leno, Letterman and O’Brien.
Geoff Blythe (saxophones), Fred Parcells (trombone/whistle) & Thomas Hamlin (drums) are the other three original members. Joseph Mulvanerty (uilleann pipes/bodhran) joined when Chris Byrne left in 2000, and Joseph “Bearclaw” Burcaw (bass) came aboard in 2007. All members add their own spin to the arrangements of the songs from Last Call, described by Kirwan as “a very up, horn driven, celebration of American and Irish life.” Then again, that’s what Black 47 has always been about. It should be a great final year for “the only band that matters,” as their friend Joe Strummer once described them.
Last Call Tour Dates:www.black47.com
Big thanks to Anita Daly for sending the albums my way!