Black 47 | IRAQ

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Rock: Adult Contemporary Folk: Celtic Folk Moods: Type: Lyrical
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by Black 47

An attempt through modern music to show the war from the point of view of those doing the actual fighting. It's hard hitting but passionate and compassionate.
Genre: Rock: Adult Contemporary
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Stars and Stripes
5:15 album only
2. Downtown Baghdad Blues
4:48 album only
3. Sadr City
3:22 album only
4. Sunrise on Brooklyn
3:16 album only
5. No Better Friend...
1:10 album only
6. Ballad of Cindy Sheehan
3:49 album only
7. The Last One To Die
4:36 album only
8. The Fighting 69th (on the road to the airport)
0:38 album only
9. Battle of Fallujah
5:22 album only
10. Ramadi
3:53 album only
11. Southside Chicago Waltz
4:51 album only
12. Whatever...
1:39 album only


Album Notes
IRAQ is Black 47’s twelfth CD release and first for United For Opportunity Music. The band has been steadfast in its opposition to the war, singing about and speaking out on the issue at every gig since before the invasion.

IRAQ includes a batch of new songs written and recorded in the summer of ’07 along with several composed by leader, Larry Kirwan, over the course of the war. Inspiration for the characters often came from the point-of-view of fans that served in Iraq and shared their experiences. Earlier versions of “Downtown Baghdad Blues” and “Southside Chicago Waltz” have already made their way to Iraq and Afghanistan and are firm favorites with the troops in those theaters.

The band employs an ever-broadening mélange of New York styles: rock, reggae, hip-hop, folk, Irish traditional, downtown noise and jazz and blues. The new songs range from the driving rock and pop of “Stars and Stripes” and “Sunrise Over Brooklyn” through the black humored blues of “Sadr City” to the gentler and folksier “Ballad of Cindy Sheehan” and “Ramadi.”

Every day, we count down the 1000 best albums of all time all the way to #1. Wednesday’s album is #888:

Black 47 – Iraq

Our pick for best album of 2008, this rivals anything the Clash ever did. Black 47 frontman Larry Kirwan is also a novelist and playwright, with a terrific ear for dialogue. The album succeeds as well as it does as an antiwar statement because it simply recounts the daily stress of combat as seen through the eyes of the American soldiers there. Some are profiteers, but a lot of them ended up over there because the promise of a payday was better than anything they could get here. Now they can’t wait to leave, they’re scared as hell, and not a little disillusioned. Kirwan doesn’t preach: he lets their anxiety and dread speak for itself. Over catchy, anthemic, Celtic- or blues-tinged rock, Kirwan offers an eyewitness view of the war that the corporate media types “embedded” with the soldiers were never allowed to depict: the guy from Brooklyn who finds himself shocked by the natural beauty of the Iraqi desert; the embittered, cynical GI who can’t wait to get home to watch his beloved San Diego Padres; a heartwrenching account of Cindy Sheehan’s transformation from war supporter to iconic antiwar activist following the death of her son; and finally, the savage Battle of Fallujah, whose narrator leaves no doubt that “If there’s a draft you know damn well yourself this war would be over by dawn…your tax dollars can go to building it all back over again.” What Frankenchrist by the Dead Kennedys was to 1985, what Wallace ’48 by the Hangdogs was to 2002, Iraq by Black 47 was to 2008: an important historical work that also happened to have some good tunes.

Set for release March 4, 2008, Larry Kirwan explains the mission statement of IRAQ:

One of the saddest periods of my life was between 2003 and 2005 while Black 47 was opposing the war in Iraq. Oddly enough, the invasion was set in motion on St. Patrick’s Day 2003. And on that night at the Knitting Factory in NYC, we became a lightning rod in the resistance to the war: scuffles erupted, people walked out, CDs were smashed. Forget about green beer, what a way to celebrate St. Patrick!

However, one could argue that we had the pedigree for the occasion. Since November 1989, Black 47 has worked to change the political and economic system in the North of Ireland and we’re well used to controversy. Indeed, it wasn’t the vilification from barstool patriots that was troubling; rather, it was the number of grateful emails that we received from people who felt that they themselves could not speak out publicly for fear of losing jobs or prestige in their communities. What kind of republic had we become when our citizens were afraid to voice their views?

Black 47 rarely plays to the converted. Because of our background, we’ve always had as strong a right wing of cops, firemen and conservatives as a left of students, radicals, and the working disaffected - with neither side afraid to vent its views. We also take pride in keeping in touch with our fans, many of whom traditionally join the Service as a way to fund their college education or mortgage. Add to those the many who enlisted in response to 9/11 and it’s easy to see why we have had no shortage of information from those actually doing the fighting in Iraq.

Hence our latest CD, IRAQ – an attempt to portray in song what’s actually going on over there. A warped ideology caused this war and, even though we’re against it, the last thing the country needs right now is more didactic posturing.

However, there is a tribute to a special American in the “Ballad of Cindy Sheehan;” for her protest in September 2005 over the death of her son, I feel, led to a turning in the tide of public opinion. Coincidence or not, from that month on the level of hostility at our shows lessened. After almost five years, I have been warned that the public is “numb” from this war. Numb my arse! As a young marine states in the “Battle of Fallujah,” “and if there’s a draft you know damn well yourself this war would be over by dawn…” Likewise, if the “numb” had a relative or loved one serving in Baghdad they might feel a little less disassociated from a conflict that is bleeding us morally, financially and physically.

IRAQ is Black 47’s small contribution to raising the consciousness of this country so that we bring our people home in an orderly manner, treat them with care and dignity when they get here, and never again have them fight an unnecessary war.

Larry Kirwan
Black 47

ABOUT BLACK 47: Taking their name from the worst year of the Irish Potato Famine, Black 47 burst onto the American scene in 1993 with its single, Funky Céilí from the CD, Fire of Freedom. The band’s signature eclectic sound, socio-political lyrics and off-the-wall live shows paved the way for other Irish influenced bands such as Flogging Molly and The Dropkick Murphys. The band’s songs have long been used in political science and history courses in hundreds of high schools and colleges throughout the US.

Black 47 is led by Larry Kirwan (guitar/vocals). He has written ten plays and musicals that have been performed both in the US and Europe; five have been published under the title Mad Angels. Kirwan’s novel, Liverpool Fantasy, an alternate history of the Beatles, received much critical acclaim and has been translated into Spanish, Greek and Japanese. His memoir, Green Suede Shoes, was published in both the US and UK. He has recorded two solo albums, Kilroy Was Here and Keltic Kids. He hosts five weekly shows for Sirius Satellite Radio, and writes a weekly column for the nationally distributed Irish Echo newspaper.

Geoffrey Blythe (saxophones) was a founder member of Dexy’s Midnight Runners. Fred Parcells (trombone) has worked extensively in Latin/Jazz and big bands. Thomas Hamlin (drums) is a veteran of the Max’s/CBGB’s scene. Joseph Mulvanerty brings a rare jazz and blues flare to the uilleann pipes and various flutes; while Joseph “Bearclaw” Burcaw offers a wealth of funk/R&B experience as well as a dynamic stage presence.

Black 47 tours continuously and once closed down the city of Hoboken, NJ. Often described as “the house band of New York City,” its winter Saturday night shows at Connolly’s of Times Square have been described as “a rite of passage for all New Yorkers.”

For further information on Black 47, please contact Think Press:
Monica Hopman / (818) 291-9513 /



to write a review

Randy Moorehead

Perfect Album
This is as close to the perfect album as we will eve see. Every song is amazing. This is a must-buy. Repeated listening only improves it. Their best album since Trouble in the Land.