Black 47: New York Town

Granddaddies of the whole Celtic-Rock scene in the US, B47 are back with their first studio album in 5 years – since the disappointing “Trouble in the Land.” “New York Town”, is Larry Kirwin’s attempt to compose a musical picture of his adopted home town, pre and post 9-11. I know on the sleeve Larry mentions Joyce and Ulysses and asks not to be compared but I do see a strong comparison in concept to Joyce’s “Dubliners” – a collection of unrelated short stories set in the general vicinity of a city (Dublin) in and around the same period of time, touching on the lives of ordinary people. On “New York Town”, like Joyce, Kirwin paints a picture of the lives of real people – the hero’s, the villains and working stiffs that make NYC the greatest city on the earth. Musically, NYT is B47s least “Irish” sounding release. B47 have always been the sound of the Irish ghettos of Queens and the Bronx sticking its toes into the pool of ethnic sounds of the rest of the city. But on NYT, B47 have taken that plunge head first and enveloped themselves in the sounds of the city as a whole. The additions of guests like David Johansen (New York Dolls) and Christine Ohlman adds some spice to the mix but on the other hand highlight the weaknesses in Larry’s own voice.

March 2004

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