Black 47 | New York Town

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New York Town

by Black 47

New York City melodic rock with lyrics intended to make you think.
Genre: Rock: Modern Rock
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. San Patricio Brigade
5:07 $0.99
2. New York Town
5:05 $0.99
3. Orphan of the Storm
4:07 $0.99
4. Fiona's Song
6:54 $0.99
5. Staten Island Baby
3:40 $0.99
6. Mychal
4:51 $0.99
7. Livin' In America
6:21 $0.99
8. Brooklyn, Goodbye
5:09 $0.99
9. Black Rose
5:06 $0.99
10. Blood Wedding
5:07 $0.99
11. I Won't Take You Home Again, Kathleen
4:19 $0.99
12. Fatima
4:28 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Monday, February 16, 2004

Black 47, New York Town (***1/2) Too long relegated to the fringes, this Irish-American band belongs to the diminishing ranks of rock acts that balance serious sonic thump with intelligent social commentary. The title track, featuring singer Suzzy Roche, raises questions about the causes of 9/11 as powerfully as anything on Bruce Springsteen's The Rising. Guest Mary Courtney is the beleaguered wife and mother on Livin' in America - 11 Years On, a riveting saga of strength and melancholy. Black 47's ire reaches back to the Mexican-American War in San Patricio Brigade, about the U.S. Army's Irish deserters who fled a dead end of poverty and discrimination to fight for the enemy. Poetic yet unambiguous, Town's provocative themes and unsentimental stories give Black 47's music both purpose and passion. -Edna Gundersen

To subscribe to Black 47's free newsletter go to The newsletter goes out roughly every three weeks and allows those interested to keep up with the band, where it is playing, advance notice of all happenings and some extract or other from a play, novel in progress or just a commentary on the political and social doings of the day.

On Feb. 17, 2004, seminal Irish rockers Black 47 will release New York Town, their first studio album in four years, on Gadfly Records. New York Town is steeped in the same social and political fervor that established Black 47 as a musical force fourteen years ago.

Known as the "House Band of New York City," it is fitting that the latest release from Black 47 should be dedicated to their home town. As founder Larry Kirwan explains, "this is an album of photos, some now sepia-toned, others glaringly digital. It's a love letter to the city that took me in (in more ways than one), and gave birth to Black 47." New York Town contains guest vocal and instrumental appearances from Rosanne Cash, David Johansen, Suzzy Roche, Eileen Ivers, Mary Courtney, Roz Moorehead, Christine Ohlman and Ashley Davis, Jon Gordon and Stewart Lerman. "I wanted to write about the city, both pre and post 9/11, and show what it's like, from the inside, by featuring the voices and skills of some real New Yorkers."

New York Town is a musical melting pot of Rock, Celtic, Folk, Hip-Hop, Reggae, Country, Swing and Jazz influences. Kirwan's lyrics ooze a palpable love for the city and place people from all five boroughs in situations both autobiographical and fictional. On the title track, the band tackles the social and political questions of 9/11 head on; "Ain't no smoke without a fire, people want answers not patronizing." While Mychal - in cool, unemotional terms - tells the story of Black 47 fan, the late Father Mychal Judge, chaplain of the NYFD.

The ballad Fiona's Song features Rosanne Cash acting out the tale of a young Irish woman who finds solace, if not happiness, on Queens Boulevard. In Staten Island Baby, David Johansen characteristically rips it up, explaining to a NYC police officer "in his pajamas pointin' his piece at me," why he's kept his daughter out until 5am. And in Livin' in America - 11 Years On, Kirwan and Mary Courtney take an early Black 47 song and update the bittersweet relationship of a couple who first met in a bar on Fordham Road in the early 90's.

Taking their name from the blackest year of the Irish Potato Famine, Black 47 burst out of the Irish pub scene on the success 1992's Fire of Freedom (EMI). With their signature eclectic sound, socio-political lyrics and off-the-wall live shows they paved the way for other Irish influenced bands such as The Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly. Black 47's songs articulated the hopes and fears of working people and they became the musical voice for young, politically aware, Irish Americans. Their cutting-edge, uncompromising lyrics are now used in political science/history courses in hundreds of high schools and colleges.

The band is led by Larry Kirwan (guitar/vocals), whose plays have been performed both in the US and Europe, while his first novel Liverpool Fantasy, an alternate history of the Beatles, was published in 2003. Other members include ex-Dexy's Midnight Runners founder Geoffrey Blythe (saxophone), Joseph Mulvanerty (uilleann pipes), Fred Parcells (trombone), Thomas Hamlin (percussion), and Andrew Goodsight (bass). Black 47 annually performs 150 dates in North and South America and Europe. Their Winter Saturday night NYC shows have been described by the New York Daily News as "a rite of passage for all New Yorkers." Black 47 live is incendiary and legendary - they once closed down the town of Hoboken - celebrities rub shoulders with cops, writers, hard hats and students at many of their gigs.

Black 47 will embark on a U.S. tour following the release of New York Town, with confirmed two-show performance at B.B. King's in New York City on St. Patrick's Day. Visit for tour updates.

Black 47 - New York Town
By Alice Farrell for

Listening to the new release from Black 47 " New York Town " I get the feeling of being at an emotional street fair that runs the gamut of the ups and downs that this fabulous town can put you through.
I have been a fan, and proud to say friend, of the guys in Black 47 for many years now, and never prouder of their efforts. The polish and prowess has even put a new twist on songs that I thought I knew, making me look at them in a whole new light.

Larry finds that the inspiration came from "James Joyce's statement that if the city of Dublin were to be destroyed, it could be rebuilt brick by brick from a reading of Ulysses. Old Jamesy is a hard act to follow but I used his book of short stories, Dubliners, as somewhat of a template for New York Town . It's not a sequential portrait of the city, but is a look at the five boroughs in my memories and adventures before 9/11 and of the way it appears to me now, living on here."

There's frolics, fun, pathos, tears, sweat, fire and humour, all the pre-requisites for a walk through this great city.

Leading off with the rollicking San Patricio, telling a tale as only Larry Kirwan can, of the brotherhood which sprung up between the Irish and the Mexicans who joined together, laughing in the face of discrimination, to build not only the buildings but the great neighborhoods that still help to give the city a lot of it's unique flavor.

One of the underlying currents of this, as with many albums that have come out in the past 2 years, deals with Larry's own take on the tragedy of September 11 th . I recall talking to Larry a few days after it happened and hearing the chilling story of him sitting at home in Downtown Manhattan, just blocks from the site, and hearing the noise and watch the plane fly by. This all comes into play beautifully in a reggae tune which brings to the forefront his own indignation at the spin-doctoring and patronizing that has become a too frequent sentiment among people here who wonder what is next.

The heart-wrenching "Fiona's Song" a duet with Rosanne Cash is the lament of a girl who left her boy, and most of her heart, back in Ireland and now sits in a bar in Queens wishing she were back with him. It even mentions a bar in my own neighborhood, full of many faces that tell that tale all too well. The mesmerizing fiddling of the great Eileen Ivers and whistle and pipes of Joseph Mulvanerty adds the plaintive tone that brings Fiona's heartstrings jumping right off the disc.

The fun factor is in full swing, literally, with the hilarious "Staten Island Baby" featuring the incomparable David Johansen on guest vocals. In creating this tune, Larry pays homage to Glen Miller and the swing era, evoking the strains of "In the Mood." A fun tale of a rock and roller considering giving it all up and joining the NYPD in order to please the girl he loves. Classic sacrificial love poetry as only Larry Kirwan can write it.

The standout tune for me on the disc has to be the song for Mychal, the chaplain of the NYFD who died tending to dying firefighters at the World Trade Center . The beauty of the man is as crystal clear as that morning sky was on that day. Set to the tune of "The Croppy Boy", it is yet another example of how wonderfully Black 47 weave traditional tunes into a fabric all their own. Larry tells me: "I always remember Eddie Furey's words to me back in the Eagle Cafe in the 70's. 'Don't ever go near a traditional song unless you can add something to it. Otherwise the tradition goes and dies." Starting off with guitar and voice and building to skirls of pipes that evoke the smoke and flames of which Father Mike was never afraid, and is a love song to the light that he found in each and every person he came across.

More great stories round out the collection, including a revisiting of "Livin' In America" with Mary Courtney of Morning Star, giving us the picture 11 years later of a couple for whom things don't pan out quite as they'd hoped. It still retains it's raw energy and I can see the people dancing to it in my head. The sultry uptown flavor of the funky "Black Rose" featuring the smoky vocals of Broadway veteran Rozz Moorehead. The Low-East-Sida anthem "Blood Wedding.", and the middle-eastern flavored " Fatima " a story of heart-break in cross-cultural relationships.

You can join in the walk around the city and pick up your own copy at or check them out live, something I highly recommend as well by checking their current tour dates in support of the release at



to write a review


Black 47 is genuinely my favorite band of all time
The Pogues, the Beatles, Springsteen, Tribe Called Quest... all phenomenal. Musically and lyrically Black 47 is not only as great, but has a diversity of style that I think puts them even 1 step above.

A Black 47 Fan and Native New Yorker

One of the Most Important CDs of the Band's Career
Black 47's Larry Kirwan is a master storyteller. Maybe it's the Irish in him or maybe it's just because it's his gift. Whatever it may be, THIS is the CD that we New Yorkers have been waiting for. Springsteen's "The Rising" told the story of 9/11 in poetry and made it pretty, something that could be sung during those god-awful (as in 'how could we, the city that gives, need one of these) Concerts for New York City. "New York Town" is unflinching in its honesty, taking us from the shock and horror of the day captured in the title track and then celebrating the strength and resilience of the city with the likes of "Staten Island Baby." The heartfelt/heartwrenching "Mychal" reminds us all what we lost that day. This is an album that was written by New Yorkers, for New Yorkers, as we dusted 220 stories off of our shoulders and walked through the dust clouds towards what life would be like AFTER.

Thank you, Larry Kirwan, for capturing it so well and for reminding me why I love Black 47 as much as I do.


New York Town is awsom!!!
Black 47 does it again.This is there best(if thats possible after Green Suede Shoes).Mychal is the most powerful song Larry Kirwan has written so far.If your a fan,this is a must...


black 47 getting better and better
black 47s latest has a little of everything. Its heartbreakink at one moment and then fun and swinging in the next moment. Why cant this band get a break and hit it big. It makes no sense.
PS See them live

Big Fellah Bob

At Long Last, Another Black 47 Studio Recording
This is truly a remarkable recording, and gets better and better with each listening. It captures all the flavor of New York City, with attention not only given to Manhattan, but to the outer boroughs as well. Black 47 is the most original of bands in terms of mixing intelligent commentary, musicianship, passion and fun. It’s been nearly 5 years since Black 47’s last studio recording. This record is worthy of standing side by side with some of their previous masterpieces like "Fire of Freedom" and "Home of the Brave." Notable guest performers include Roseanne Cash and Eileen Ivers on haunting, impassioned “Fiona’s Song,” and David Johannsen on “Staten Island Baby.” Each track has it’s own unique flavor and in true Black 47 fashion, tells a really interesting story

Bill Priester

Modern Urban Irish Folk Music...with Attitude!
Larry Kirwin directs his band, Black 47, with passion not unlike a modern day Father Murphy who defended Vinegar Hill in the battle of Wexford in the battle of '98.

This isn't your mom's Irish music. It is an in your face, no holds barred, feel of the Irish-American pulse in these modern times. From remakes of Black Rose and Blood Wedding to an update to Livin' in America, Kirwin paints with a broad paint brush the varied lifes challenges for the Irish-American today. No one feels or conveys the new Irish immigrant experience in America like Black 47.

The band's tribute to Fr. Mychal Judge is emotion filled and heart stopping. Sung to the tune, the Croppy Boy, Kirwin gives his all as he pays tribute to a great man.

With special guest artists like Roseann Cash, Suzzy Roche and David Johanssen, aka Buster Poindexter, this album touches on many varied elements of the flavor of what it is to be livin' in America in these changing times.

Like a freshly poured pint of stout, Black 47 takes an acquired taste to truly appreciate the potency of who they are and what their songs are all about. Despite changes in the bands personnel over the years, their trademark bite to their songs is as evident as it always has been.

I find New York Town as wonderful a recording as the group ever has released. Great stuff, that!


Can't Get Enough of It!
Lyrics will always make or break a song for me. If I don't like what I'm hearing but later read the words and am affected by them in some way, I'll adapt to the music. That is never necessary with Black 47, their music gives me the best of both worlds. I knew it wouldn't be any different with this latest c.d. As always, each song is a story with a message and you'll find a way to relate in some way or another. Listening to it for the first time I went through just about every emotion. It really brought some bittersweet memories to mind, but it made me laugh too. In addition to all of just simply rocks. The collaborations are fantastic. The band is brilliant on their own, but the addition of vocals from Suzzy Roche, Rosanne Cash, David Johansen, Mary Courtney, Rozz Moorehead, Christine Ohlman and Ashley Davis and fiddle from Eileen Ivers, only enhances what we already knew would blow us away, yet again.


Wow!! What an amazing cd. Definitely the best I've bought in a LONG time. The lyrics are so poetically thoughtful and thought-provoking. It's impossible to mindlessly listen to these songs. The words just speak to experiences within that are uncommunicable, or so I thought. The music is extraordinary. Who knew you could simultaneously tap your foot and drive?! I HIGHLY recommend this cd!!

Celtic MP3s Music Magazine

sing, dance, and cry over a pint of the human experience
Black 47 really makes me adore Celtic music!

I'm listening to their latest CD, New York Town. It's tearing at my heart strings. I don't know whether I should smile and rock on with Black 47's amazing style of Celtic Rock that fuses traditional Irish instrumentation with horns and the hipper sounds of rock music, or should cry from the troubles endured by Irish immigrants to the United States.

I am doing both, because New York Town might not sound like trad Irish music with a drum set and horns, but it captures the Irish American mentality better than 90% of the contemporary Celtic albums I've heard.

The album begins with probably the most poignant song about Irish immigration, "San Patricio Brigade." In 1846, thousands of Irish immigrants joined the US Army to invade Mexico. The Anglo-Protestant officers treated them horribly. Add to this their doubts about fighting a Catholic country, hundreds of Irish desserted and signed on with the Mexican army. They were led by John Riley who formed the St Patrick's Batallion, also known as the San Patricio Brigade. And it takes someone like Larry Kirwan, Black 47's masterful Irish singer-songwriter, to really point out the tragedies endured.

And that's just the beginning of the CD. Every song is emotionally packed full of Irish stories that will really make you think. Larry Kirwan is not afraid to write and sing about the social issues endured by the Irish and of people in general, like New York Town which confronts 9/11 with visual acuity.

Black 47 also shows a reprise of a song from their first album, "Livin' In America - 11 Years On". I'll tell ye, I kinda glossed over it the first time I heard it on their self-titled CD, Black 47. I just can't do it here. It's probably one of my favorite songs, and it makes me want to weep. It could've been written a hundred years ago, and the story would still the same. Just as powerful and in some cases, it's even more touching.

New York Town also hosts a number of guest singers from Eileen Ivers on "San Patrico Brigade" to Christine Ohlman on "Blood Wedding". Mary Courtney does a a brilliant job of becoming a part of the story on "Livin' In America - 11 Years On". Roseanne Cash join Larry on "Fiona's Song" which is a another gripping story of lovers parted.

New York Town is the story of the Irish American immigrant, filled with all the gorgeous melancholy that haunts the passionate and makes you want to sing, dance, and cry over a pint of the human experience.


Absolutely fabulous!!!
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