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Black 47
On Fire
Gadfly Records (

Black 47's Larry Kirwan opens this CD wailing with voice and guitar,"Hey, Big Fellah, where the hell are ya now, when we need ya the most?" It's a cry for lost leaders, whether they died or quit the struggle. Sad for their loss, yet unrepentant, the ragged rebels for whom Kirwan sings won't themselves ever give up. Never, even though their erstwhile war chiefs now sport Armani suits and court the blessings of Bush's corporate cronies. Beaten, betrayed or bamboozled, the word from Black 47 is that we gotta keep kickin' til the damn walls fall down. So sings Black 47: "Fake politician, your lies are gonna get you, chickens comin' back to roost . . . Never gonna put out the fire of freedom . . . our dreams will continue in the eyes of our children!"

All of this is played to a loping ska beat, bagpipes skirling and drums pounding, both band and audience chanting along, "Tiochaidh ar la!" (Our day must come!) Kirwan takes up the heroic voices of Bobby Sands, Steve Biko, Constance Markievicz and many other bold fighters who laid down a life for glory and the poor of the earth.

Then there's the dancing. To funny songs about horny, wandering souls and friends gone but not forgotten by a long, long shot. Raise yer glass and salute, scream, laugh and weep. And to hell with the snobs, prudes or rich bastards who would keep down our hard-earned, rolling celebratory joy. Wise-cracking, jig and reel ready, blaring anthems and smart remarks galore, Black 47 are the most in-your-face-don't-give-a-fuck bunch of happy sotted leftists this side of the Mekons!

That's Black 47, and a wild revolution party it is, indeed. New uilleannn piper, young Joe Mulvanerty, shines, while the '47 stalwarts rise to new heights of fierce musical glee: Geoff Blythe, sax, Andrew Goodsight, bass, Tom Hamlin, drums, Fred Parcells, trombone, and of course Kirwan front and center singing, songwriting and leaping about shouting, "Woo-hah!" and spouting some of the most literate, historically-astute lyrics in all of rock, roll or new Irish trad. "Rockin' the Bronx" on this album is an instrumental work-out which gives a taste of the addictive adrenalin-blaze that keeps those sweaty mobs coming back again and again to Black 47's frequent live gigs, hundreds a year up and down the American east coast, and as far off as Argentina.

For a little while at least, forget Bush and the reactionary sludge seeping over our world. Pick up this cd, have a grand time dancing your arse off, and feel the rebel fire still burning bright and strong. As one song on this great album demands, "Make some noise! I said make some NOISE!" - Bill Nevins

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