Black 47 | Trouble In The Land

Go To Artist Page

Recommended if You Like
Dropkick Murphys The Beatles The Clash

Album Links
black47.com

More Artists From
United States - NY - New York City

Other Genres You Will Love
Rock: Modern Rock Reggae: Mento Moods: Type: Lyrical
There are no items in your wishlist.

Trouble In The Land

by Black 47

Irish New York City Rock, Ska, Trad, Funk and Politics
Genre: Rock: Modern Rock
Release Date: 

We'll ship when it's back in stock

Order now and we'll ship when it's back in stock, or enter your email below to be notified when it's back in stock.
Sign up for the CD Baby Newsletter
Your email address will not be sold for any reason.
Continue Shopping
just a few left.
order now!
Share to Google +1

Tracks

To listen to tracks you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin.

Sorry, there has been a problem playing the clip.

  song title
share
time
download
1. Trouble in the Land
Share this song!
X
4:02 album only
2. Those Saints
Share this song!
X
4:42 album only
3. Delirious
Share this song!
X
4:04 album only
4. Bobby Kennedy
Share this song!
X
4:34 album only
5. Tramps Heartbreak
Share this song!
X
6:44 album only
6. Bodhrans on the Brain
Share this song!
X
4:02 album only
7. I Got Laid On James Joyce's Grave
Share this song!
X
3:32 album only
8. Susan Falls Apart
Share this song!
X
4:38 album only
9. Desperate
Share this song!
X
4:13 album only
10. Fallin' Off The Edge of America
Share this song!
X
5:22 album only
11. Touched By Fire
Share this song!
X
4:50 album only
12. Blood Is Thicker Than Water
Share this song!
X
4:41 album only
preview all songs

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID ABOUT TROUBLE IN THE LAND:

"Black 47 remains one of rock's inexplicably obscure treasures. From the ambitious Bodhrans on the Brain to the glorious, hope-fueled Touched by Fire to the wickedly satiric I Got Laid on James Joyce's Grave, Black 47 parties with revolutionary fervor." - USA Today

"Socially conscious music that moves your head, heart and hips. Rush out for Trouble in the Land which, like other Black 47 efforts, seems to get a little better with each spin." - New York Post

"Angry, mournful, hilarious. Sing along, drink along and be merry." - People Magazine

"Black 47 delivers its most dynamic session. Trouble in the Land hits the jugular." - Boston Globe

"Black 47 comes out swinging again with a Celtic/ska hoedown - a guinness-thick brew of uilleann pipes, streetwise riddims - a lot of tin-whistled fun." - Entertainment Weekly

'Trouble in the Land features more of Kirwan's superb lyrics as pungently flavorful as an Irish Whiskey." - Los Angeles Times

"Songs of substance that alternate between the ragingly political Bobby Kennedy and the achingly personal Susan Falls Apart, the overall feel remains celebratory. These guys still deserve to be huge." - Philadelphia Inquirer

"Black 47 is passionate in songwriting, passionate in cause, passionate in performance. Trouble in the Land has all the ingredients of their magical stew." - Florida Sun-Sentinel

"Both McCourt and Kirwan are superb writers who describe poverty, injustice and other problems they and their friends have encountered with an entrancing brand of passion and ribald humor, rawness and artfulness." - Albany Times Union

"One or rock's most passionate bands, Black 47 plays Kirwan's fiery agit-pop howlers with the fury of the early Pogues. This Irish tinted rock (with shadings of ska and reggae) is incendiary." - Chicago Sun Times

"A melting pot of styles, blending traditional Irish instruments and melodies with reggae rhythms and hip-hop and funk beats. They've become the voice of Irish-Americans." - Washington Post

"Take all forms of rebel music, mix it on one album, sometimes, as on "Those Saints" all in one song. Great restless, ranting rock with horns, pipes, guitars and Bobby Kennedy speeches tapes." - San Jose Mercury News

"They've raised consciousness, hell and the roof over the last decade and now they raise the bar with the best disc in years." - LA Entertainment Today

"New York City's favorite band....Trouble in the Land stands out as an album that can even make party animals think." - Time Out

"A hip-hop beat, an Irish reel and a reworking of the standard "When the Saints Go Marching In" - the band's ability to make all those sounds work together is what makes them exciting and much different than the Clash and the Pogues." - Portland Phoenix

"Trouble in the Land is an edgy, introspective fascinating look into the band's creative process. Tramps Heartbreak and Fallin' Off the Edge of America eloquently convey regret for lost love and the pain of things left unsaid and undone." - Irish Echo

"Both political and humorous, Trouble is a wicked blend of Celtic music, ska and roots rock." - Billboard

"It's possible to find funnier moments in rock than I Got Laid on James Joyce's Grave but you'd have to dig deep." - Newsday

"In like a lion and a pissed off one at that, Trouble in the Land re-establishes Larry Kirwan's reputation as an immigrant with an attitude. The band's seamless blend of Irish reggae and rock is as powerful as ever." - Philadelphia City Paper

"I was once again blown away by the awesome power of this band. The reggae-tinged "Desperate" was a highlight. This is the band that should be selling out 10 nights in the Garden." - Irish Voice

"Black 47's anthemic Trouble in the Land is a drunken potpourri of hip-hop beats, reggae riddims, Springsteen grand choruses and traditional instruments - bodhran, tin whistle and uilleann pipes." - Tower Pulse

"This is possibly the best album Black 47 has put out ot date. Controversial, always raucous, and definitely great. Startingly offbeat and original. They put on a great show." - V Mag

"Chris Byrne pulls no punches even when addressing an obvious hero such as Robert Kennedy. The band's ability to simultaneously praise and desecrate James Joyce hints at their prodigious talent."- CMJ New Music Report

"Larry Kirwan is a serious poet who can write a ballad that wrenches the heart, or a verse that paints a picture of despair, pain or joy. Black 47 fans will be overjoyed with Trouble in the Land." - New Britain Herald

"Black 47 has come up with a tune that rivals Maria's Wedding - one of rock's great songs - it's a little ditty with an unprintable title about having sexual intercourse on James Joyce's grave." - Times Herald Record

"Finally something really new to talk about. Balladry is a big surprise - Susan Falls Apart is particularly striking." - New Haven Register

"If you have dreadlocks and like to dance jigs, this is the album for you." - Cleveland Plain Dealer

"This is Black 47's Pogues-iest, pushiest, most politically persuasive album yet. Makes you wish the public library was open after the bars close." - New Haven Advocate

"Trouble in the Land is a great song. Normally, I don't go for the music-politics mix but you get the sense that Black 47 sings from experience." - El Paso Times

"Usually bands use ballads to cool things off a bit. Not Black 47! The troubled love song, Tramps Heartbreak, from the band's new disc was hot, steamy and striking." - Syracuse Herald Journal

"Fueled by its ever-present political passion and a sense of humor to match, Black 47 has chronicled the Irish-American experience in a wonderfully unique fashion that stokes controversial fires as much as it revels in spinning absurdly funny tales." - Stamford Advocate

"Trouble in the Land is the latest fiery instalment from a band whose music was made to afflict the comfortable." - Irish Music Connection

"A combination of streetwise sass, history and musical inclusiveness." - Sacramento News and Review

"If you like variety in music - Irish, rock, reggae, folk, rap, jazz - and you enjoy humor, have a conscience and appreciate quality, then Trouble in the Land is for you." - Irish Edition

"A worldly blend that combines Celtic music, reggae and hip-hop with the punkish urgency of the Pogues and the Clash and the rock 'n roll fervor of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band." - Newark Sunday Star Ledger

"Bawdy and lecherous, poetic and comical, danceable and political." - Brattleboro Reformer

"As Kirwan asserts in Blood is Thicker Than Water, we've all met troubles. All you can do is keep the faith and keep on dancing." - Thirsty Ear Magazine

"Black 47 pretty much has the market cornered these days on Irish rock, with their lusty and turbulent tales of social unrest, history, politics and the immigrant experience wrapped in a passionate package." - The River Reporter

"Black 47 continues to verbalize humanity's savageness with a plethora of words and not confusion of meaning. Trouble in the Land is another fine batch of politically potent, rollicking songs about fallen heroes, looming threats and the brazenness of the bookish. It's Van Morrison's punk album." - Tulsa World

"Black 47 is clearly in touch with its Irish ancestry. Yet its blend of musical traditions, politically intense compositions and tongue-in-cheek, somewhat self-deprecating, bar song splendor offers a refreshing twist on traditional Irish rock." - Valley Advocate

"A larger Irish vision, a playfulness and a celebration of life's pleasures - Black 47's music yells out against loss and invisibility. Trouble in the Land is a celebration of meaningful resistance." - Rootsworld Bulletin

"Black 47 is irreverent and to the point. The music combines post punk rock, ska and Irish reel. But that's just the music. Their political lyrics have been the band's trademark since its inception." - PRI's The World

"Easily the motleyest crew since the Pogues, in Irish music circles, they're also one of the finest and the most eclectic. Trouble goes down smooth as blended whiskey even as it bolsters whip-smart lyrics and passionate tunesmithery." - Winnipeg Sun

"Trouble in the Land easily becomes the band's finest recording since its 1993 debut, Fire of Freedom. Crisp musicianship and unbridled enthusiasm rule the day and guarantee to have the band's many fans doing the "funky ceili" for years to come." - Glen Falls Post-Star

"The band boasts a great horn sound (Fred Parcells blows the bones and Geoffrey Blythe plays the tenor, baritone and soprano sax) absent from most bands today and gives Black 47 a unique sound. Trouble in the Land definitely merits a long listen." - Easton Express-Times

"Trouble in the Land is an eclectic effort, ranging from the fiery-but-melodic issue oriented track Bobby Kennedy to the gospel-tinged Blood is Thicker Than Water to the tongue-in-cheek I Got Laid on James Joyce's Grave." - Asbury Park Press

"Larry Kirwan is a true poet of our times. He understands what is really going on, cuts the disguises away and writes songs of truth for all to hear." - Celtic Beat, Ann Brazen

FROM "THE STORY OF BLACK 47" (more of which can be found aat "Discography" on www.black47.com



"And so it came to pass, that lo and behold, the powers-that-be decided that Danny Goldberg should no longer be King of Mercury. To give him his due, he had warned me when we signed that his stay there might be of a somewhat short lived nature. He wasn't kidding. And so we were given a copper handshake some months before his departure which enabled us to go on and record Trouble in the Land. Thank you, Danny. Good luck with your new label. Maybe, we'll join you there someday.

But, first off, let me digress a little and bring up a subject that we touched on in the last chapter - The Internet. It has been a true boon to bands like us. In our case, it has allowed the many people who love the band to get our cds internationally. Because of all the publicity that we engendered over the years, many people were aware of the band and had tapes sent to them or picked up cds themselves when visiting the US. And, of course, the cds were released internationally - to a limited degree - during our sojourns at EMI and Mercury. However, we paid a big price for our political views in the UK which is the powerhouse for European distribution of rock music. By contract, both companies released our cds in the UK but quietly deleted them as soon as the first pressing sold out.

However, the seeds were planted - cassette tapes passed from hand to hand - and when all our cds were made available internationally through readily accessed outlets like cdnow.com and amazon.com, our fans returned to us and had, indeed, multiplied in the intervening years. Thus, we have been able to go beyond the multi-nationals who have strangled music for so long. Likewise, with Napster and the ability to download music. Long may this technology live, say I. Daily, I get e-mails from people who have discovered the band through this medium. All I would ask is that you consider buying a cd after you download - which many of you already do.

But back to Trouble in the Land. I had written about 18 songs and we were performing many of them live. A mutual friend introduced me to the great Jack Douglas, producer of John Lennon, Aerosmith, you name it. Jack came down, saw the band, loved it and agreed to produce the next cd. We got on great and were looking forward to working with him but, around this time, our split from Mercury occurred. Our copper handshake didn't enable us to continue working with Jack but we remain friends and, who knows, maybe we'll work together someday. He's a beautiful and talented person - check out his pedigree - and would fit easily into the Black 47 extended family.

Although, I had written a lot of songs for the new CD, I was feeling a bit down at the time. Johnny's death, the illness of family members and some other personal factors were on my mind. When I honestly evaluated my mood and drive, I decided that I wasn't the right individual to solely produce Black 47, at that time. One person jumped immediately to mind. Stewart Lerman! Stewart was a major fan and great appreciator of our music and had wanted to work with the band since before Fire of Freedom. When I broached the subject to him, he jumped at the opportunity and it was agreed that we would co-produce. His energy, enthusiasm and friendship with each band member made this recording one of the most fruitful, delightful and, consequently, less onerous.

Nothing was a problem to Stewart. Being a road musician himself, for many years, he knew the particular stresses a band is under when it must record and play gigs at the same time. His manner was so easy going, humorous and empathetic that each band member gave him superb performances. Having just worked on Live in New York City, he immediately could sense all the strengths and liabilities of the band and could help maximize the former while minimizing the latter. For the first time since working with Ric Ocasek, I felt that I didn't have to be there all the time. I could stay home, on occasion, and let Stewart take the helm. And if something went down in my absence that I didn't like, well it was no big deal to do it again and Stewart didn't get huffy; in fact, he even welcomed the questioning. And so, our producing partnership moved along more than smoothly.

One of the things we gave thought to was my voice. While working on the leisurely Keltic Kids, I had begun to use the lower register again. Ever wonder why all the heavy metal front men sing in the Robert Plant style voice? Simple! They're trying to get over the volume of the band behind them. I had fallen into the same trap with Black 47. We are a loud band on stage. I've always liked to play with that driving rhythm that I first heard John Lennon and Bruce Welch of the Shadows use. And Hammy is no pussy when it comes to hitting the drums; hence, to the discomfiture of John Murray, Jon Carter and others of our great sound techs, Black 47 has always been stage loud and proud.

For songs like Tramps Heartbreak, Fallin' Off the Edge of America, Blood is Thicker Than Water, Susan Falls Apart, etc we decided to drop them a tone or two from the keys they were written in; or begin in a lower octave and let the song slowly build as it progresses. That's probably the big difference of approach on this cd. We also consciously went for a rounder, fuller sound on the instruments. I think this contributed to the feel of Trouble. The playing is still as intense but with more emphasis on the sonic low to mid-levels.

I've always felt that each cd sounds very different. Apart from the fact that each song has a unique story, I think the sounds each producing team garnered from the band are quite individual. Contrast my independent cd to Ric's Fire of Freedom - many of the same songs - but a world of difference in the sonic treatment. I'm not even talking about which I prefer. I like them both and value the differences but the important thing is that there are distinct differences. Listen to them for yourself. Compare the highs and lows of Home of the Brave to the "roundness" of Trouble in the Land. They are so different. And as the French say "Vive la différence"

Anyway, back to Trouble. Things were still nebulous at Mercury when I got in touch with Stewart. We arranged to have him drop by for a few rehearsals, listen to the tunes, make some suggestions and then go in on an afternoon and cut about 15 of them for a demo. Demos be damned, thought I again. Let's, at least, do them in a good 24 track studio. You never know what's going to happen. (In Black 47's case, something always does). And so we went into Baby Monster Studio on good old 14th Street and did 15 tracks in 5 hours.

Forewarned is forearmed! Within days, we were label-less again. We decided to use these recordings as the basis for Trouble in the Land. I re-cut the vocals, we fixed up various instrumentals but the main recording was done in 5 hours. Of course, Stewart and I put in many hours more fine tuning and polishing; we both added a lot of acoustic and electric guitars and keyboards, particularly Hammond organ. Some of the songs were easy to "fix" others, like Susan, almost broke my heart. But, in the end, it's a record I love, although, as with all of them, I'll probably never listen to it again..

With every Black 47 cd, I'm very aware that I'm competing with those that have gone before and I was delighted when so many songs from Trouble became quick favorites at the live gigs. It's always a very scary time for me. The thought of lowering the quality of Black 47's oeuvre is particularly troubling to me. Black 47 songs mean so much to so many people, it would be horrifying to drop the standard. For each song must tell a different story and each arrangement must bring out something new in the musicianship. That's the goal we set and, so far, I think we've held up the standard. Knock on that wood quickly for me as I am now in the midst of writing a new batch!

Some of the songs on Trouble are personal favorites of mine. Particularly, Tramps Heartbreak. After writing the play, Poetry of Stone, about my Grandfather, I took one last draught from that well. As some of you are aware, I was raised by Thomas Hughes. He was a very old man when I went to live with him as a young boy but he gave me so much and I'm deeply indebted to him for my love of history and interest in politics. When it came time to break away from him, as all young people must from a powerful elder, unfortunately I didn't do so in the most graceful manner.

Most sundays we used to visit his friends around the country, traveling in his old blue Morris Minor, (ZR 5486). On our way home, we would often travel down the New Line (an almost straight road from Duncannon to Wexford town, constructed by the British Army at the turn of the century). Because of this unusual straightness, the locals called the road "tramps heartbreak". I've sometimes felt trapped on that same kind of metaphysical road myself. Add that to the regret of breaking with someone you love and you have Tramps Heartbreak.

It's always been important to me that Black 47 progress musically. Now, I know that some of you would prefer that we stick to the Funky Céilí/Rockin' The Bronx pattern - for which we are best known - and I do enjoy that style too. But, the band that doesn't progress doesn't just stay in the same place - it moves backwards. And so, Blood Is Thicker Than Water, allowed us to explore Gospel and R&B; Delirious finally let us do a full ska number; Susan Falls Apart - well, I'm not sure what genre you would call that but it's new for B47; Saints allowed us to mix traditional Irish with traditional New Orleans and Bobby Kennedy let us explore Motown rhythms, especially those of the Temptations. I'm sure there are other influences I'm missing but Trouble in the Land has moved the band on both musically and lyrically. I'm proud that the musicians of Black 47 make that jump so effortlessly and I'm grateful that most of you can accept these changes that are essential to us, as we continue on down our merry, if perilous, way."

From the "History of Black 47" - more of which can be found on www.black47.com at Discography. This is a subjective account of the life of Black 47 as seen through the eyes of Larry Kirwan.


WHAT THE CRITICS ARE SAYING ABOUT TROUBLE IN THE LAND:

"Black 47 remains one of rock's inexplicably obscure treasures. From the ambitious Bodhrans on the Brain to the glorious, hope-fueled Touched by Fire to the wickedly satiric I Got Laid on James Joyce's Grave, Black 47 parties with revolutionary fervor." - USA Today

"Socially conscious music that moves your head, heart and hips. Rush out for Trouble in the Land which, like other Black 47 efforts, seems to get a little better with each spin." - New York Post

"Angry, mournful, hilarious. Sing along, drink along and be merry." - People Magazine

"Black 47 delivers its most dynamic session. Trouble in the Land hits the jugular." - Boston Globe

"Black 47 comes out swinging again with a Celtic/ska hoedown - a guinness-thick brew of uilleann pipes, streetwise riddims - a lot of tin-whistled fun." - Entertainment Weekly

'Trouble in the Land features more of Kirwan's superb lyrics as pungently flavorful as an Irish Whiskey." - Los Angeles Times

"Songs of substance that alternate between the ragingly political Bobby Kennedy and the achingly personal Susan Falls Apart, the overall feel remains celebratory. These guys still deserve to be huge." - Philadelphia Inquirer

"Black 47 is passionate in songwriting, passionate in cause, passionate in performance. Trouble in the Land has all the ingredients of their magical stew." - Florida Sun-Sentinel

"Both McCourt and Kirwan are superb writers who describe poverty, injustice and other problems they and their friends have encountered with an entrancing brand of passion and ribald humor, rawness and artfulness." - Albany Times Union

"One or rock's most passionate bands, Black 47 plays Kirwan's fiery agit-pop howlers with the fury of the early Pogues. This Irish tinted rock (with shadings of ska and reggae) is incendiary." - Chicago Sun Times

"A melting pot of styles, blending traditional Irish instruments and melodies with reggae rhythms and hip-hop and funk beats. They've become the voice of Irish-Americans." - Washington Post

"Take all forms of rebel music, mix it on one album, sometimes, as on "Those Saints" all in one song. Great restless, ranting rock with horns, pipes, guitars and Bobby Kennedy speeches tapes." - San Jose Mercury News


"They've raised consciousness, hell and the roof over the last decade and now they raise the bar with the best disc in years." - LA Entertainment Today

"New York City's favorite band....Trouble in the Land stands out as an album that can even make party animals think." - Time Out

"A hip-hop beat, an Irish reel and a reworking of the standard "When the Saints Go Marching In" - the band's ability to make all those sounds work together is what makes them exciting and much different than the Clash and the Pogues." - Portland Phoenix

"Trouble in the Land is an edgy, introspective fascinating look into the band's creative process. Tramps Heartbreak and Fallin' Off the Edge of America eloquently convey regret for lost love and the pain of things left unsaid and undone." - Irish Echo

"Both political and humorous, Trouble is a wicked blend of Celtic music, ska and roots rock." - Billboard

"It's possible to find funnier moments in rock than I Got Laid on James Joyce's Grave but you'd have to dig deep." - Newsday

"In like a lion and a pissed off one at that, Trouble in the Land re-establishes Larry Kirwan's reputation as an immigrant with an attitude. The band's seamless blend of Irish reggae and rock is as powerful as ever." - Philadelphia City Paper

"I was once again blown away by the awesome power of this band. The reggae-tinged "Desperate" was a highlight. This is the band that should be selling out 10 nights in the Garden." - Irish Voice

"Black 47's anthemic Trouble in the Land is a drunken potpourri of hip-hop beats, reggae riddims, Springsteen grand choruses and traditional instruments - bodhran, tin whistle and uilleann pipes." - Tower Pulse

"This is possibly the best album Black 47 has put out ot date. Controversial, always raucous, and definitely great. Startingly offbeat and original. They put on a great show." - V Mag

"Chris Byrne pulls no punches even when addressing an obvious hero such as Robert Kennedy. The band's ability to simultaneously praise and desecrate James Joyce hints at their prodigious talent."- CMJ New Music Report

"Larry Kirwan is a serious poet who can write a ballad that wrenches the heart, or a verse that paints a picture of despair, pain or joy. Black 47 fans will be overjoyed with Trouble in the Land." - New Britain Herald

"Black 47 has come up with a tune that rivals Maria's Wedding - one of rock's great songs - it's a little ditty with an unprintable title about having sexual intercourse on James Joyce's grave." - Times Herald Record

"Finally something really new to talk about. Balladry is a big surprise - Susan Falls Apart is particularly striking." - New Haven Register

"If you have dreadlocks and like to dance jigs, this is the album for you." - Cleveland Plain Dealer

"This is Black 47's Pogues-iest, pushiest, most politically persuasive album yet. Makes you wish the public library was open after the bars close." - New Haven Advocate

"Trouble in the Land is a great song. Normally, I don't go for the music-politics mix but you get the sense that Black 47 sings from experience." - El Paso Times

"Usually bands use ballads to cool things off a bit. Not Black 47! The troubled love song, Tramps Heartbreak, from the band's new disc was hot, steamy and striking." - Syracuse Herald Journal

"Fueled by its ever-present political passion and a sense of humor to match, Black 47 has chronicled the Irish-American experience in a wonderfully unique fashion that stokes controversial fires as much as it revels in spinning absurdly funny tales." - Stamford Advocate

"Trouble in the Land is the latest fiery instalment from a band whose music was made to afflict the comfortable." - Irish Music Connection

"A combination of streetwise sass, history and musical inclusiveness." - Sacramento News and Review

"If you like variety in music - Irish, rock, reggae, folk, rap, jazz - and you enjoy humor, have a conscience and appreciate quality, then Trouble in the Land is for you." - Irish Edition

"A worldly blend that combines Celtic music, reggae and hip-hop with the punkish urgency of the Pogues and the Clash and the rock 'n roll fervor of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band." - Newark Sunday Star Ledger

"Bawdy and lecherous, poetic and comical, danceable and political." - Brattleboro Reformer

"As Kirwan asserts in Blood is Thicker Than Water, we've all met troubles. All you can do is keep the faith and keep on dancing." - Thirsty Ear Magazine

"Black 47 pretty much has the market cornered these days on Irish rock, with their lusty and turbulent tales of social unrest, history, politics and the immigrant experience wrapped in a passionate package." - The River Reporter

"Black 47 continues to verbalize humanity's savageness with a plethora of words and not confusion of meaning. Trouble in the Land is another fine batch of politically potent, rollicking songs about fallen heroes, looming threats and the brazenness of the bookish. It's Van Morrison's punk album." - Tulsa World

"Black 47 is clearly in touch with its Irish ancestry. Yet its blend of musical traditions, politically intense compositions and tongue-in-cheek, somewhat self-deprecating, bar song splendor offers a refreshing twist on traditional Irish rock." - Valley Advocate

"A larger Irish vision, a playfulness and a celebration of life's pleasures - Black 47's music yells out against loss and invisibility. Trouble in the Land is a celebration of meaningful resistance." - Rootsworld Bulletin

"Black 47 is irreverent and to the point. The music combines post punk rock, ska and Irish reel. But that's just the music. Their political lyrics have been the band's trademark since its inception." - PRI's The World

"Easily the motleyest crew since the Pogues, in Irish music circles, they're also one of the finest and the most eclectic. Trouble goes down smooth as blended whiskey even as it bolsters whip-smart lyrics and passionate tunesmithery." - Winnipeg Sun

"Trouble in the Land easily becomes the band's finest recording since its 1993 debut, Fire of Freedom. Crisp musicianship and unbridled enthusiasm rule the day and guarantee to have the band's many fans doing the "funky ceili" for years to come." - Glen Falls Post-Star

"The band boasts a great horn sound (Fred Parcells blows the bones and Geoffrey Blythe plays the tenor, baritone and soprano sax) absent from most bands today and gives Black 47 a unique sound. Trouble in the Land definitely merits a long listen." - Easton Express-Times

"Trouble in the Land is an eclectic effort, ranging from the fiery-but-melodic issue oriented track Bobby Kennedy to the gospel-tinged Blood is Thicker Than Water to the tongue-in-cheek I Got Laid on James Joyce's Grave." - Asbury Park Press

"Larry Kirwan is a true poet of our times. He understands what is really going on, cuts the disguises away and writes songs of truth for all to hear." - Celtic Beat, Ann Brazen




On St. Patrick's Day, 1985, I chucked in rock and roll forever.
I returned to the theater and, for the next four years, wrote, and directed or produced five plays (published under the title Mad Angels). In the summer of 1989, while on a tour of Eastern Europe with the poet Copernicus, we played an unauthorized concert in Prague for Havel's dissidents. Over 12,000 people showed up to defy the authorities. It was a small victory but it made me realize that rock music could still effect social and political change.

Back in New York, I walked into Paddy Reilly's, a dilapidated saloon. Chris Byrne was playing uilleann pipes with a local folk group, Beyond the Pale. I sat in for a few numbers and afterwards we got to talking about the lack of content in contemporary music. He told me he was a cop and loved The Clash and rap music. I have no idea what I said to him but six hours and some gallons later, we formed Black 47.

Chris had a brainwave! Why not fulfill Beyond the Pale's dates? This was a lot easier said than done since Irish bands did four or more sets a night. But nothing ventured - nothing gained! I had a batch of originals and wrote out some skeletal arrangements; I also plundered my memory for anything from the reggae of Marley to the thrash of Belfast's Gloria. Chris supplied a legion of jigs, reels, slides and hornpipes which I barbarized with feedback and boombox beats. Then girding our loins, we headed to the Bronx and disaster.

Our first gig was a benefit where we opened for political activist Bernadette Devlin-McAliskey. I was playing electric guitar, programming a drum machine and Chris was wailing on the pipes, various whistles and bodhran. We laid into the audience with a fury inspired by fear of failure. After about fifteen minutes, someone roared out: "For Christ's sakes, play an Irish song!" To which I replied, "I'm from Ireland. I wrote the song, that makes it Irish. So shut the fuck up!" Thus was Black 47's reputation for confrontation born. Fighting words, indeed, but not particularly pragmatic, as we were fired from that and every succeeding gig. After four months, things were looking bleak. We had exhausted New York's large selection of Irish bars. But the word had spread that there was a band, unlike any other who played original music and refused to patronize their audiences. Round about this time, Paddy Reilly's bar was doing so badly even the cockroaches were jumping ship; as a last resort, we were hired for a three week residency.

Finally, we had a central location; our small followings from the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens arrived en masse and we turned the joint on its ear. From that night on, we never looked back and we have since taken our music, message and attitude to many's the kip, brothel, pub, club, concert hall and stadium in the U.S.

I had worked with Fred Parcells in various bands and when he heard about Black 47, he showed up with his trombone. A graduate of The New England Conservatory of Music, he had played everything from big band to country. We still haven't asked him to join --I suppose it's a bit late now. But I still remember the thrill of hearing the pipes and trombone play their first mournful / exhilarating line together. A Celtic / New Orleans marching band on-stage in the Bronx? Where would it all lead?

Geoffrey Blythe is from Birmingham, England. A founding member of Dexy's Midnight Runners and sideman to many, including Elvis Costello, he is a fanatical saxophonist as well as a brilliant arranger. He had recently returned from London and his wife mentioned he was going up the walls for want of a gig. I told her to send him on down. He jumped in off the deep end and instantly added muscle, flair and experience to an already innovative brass/pipes section.

Back then, we advertised as a four piece and occasionally Fred would take romantic and/or musical sabbaticals. Needing an extra member, I often called Thomas Hamlin, my old drummer from the Major Thinkers. Hammy had also quit rock and roll and was experimenting with African and Latin rhythms. This brought an entirely new dimension to the band - as if the poor punters weren't confused enough already. One day, on Fred's return, the intrepid percussionist announced that he wasn't leaving. Thus we became five.

We have been complimented by many wonderful bass players. Andrew Goodsight joined in February, 1995, replacing Kevin Jenkins who left following the van crash outside Providence, RI. (see Green Suede Shoes for Details.) Andrew has brought a rare enthusiasm, as well as formidable musicianship, to the band. Thank you, brother.

Those first years were a daze of sweaty, sexy, booze-driven marathons. Luckily, we were all experienced improvisers because when you're doing over 200 gigs a year, there is little time and no inclination for rehearsal. I would write the song, suggest an outline and we would perform it that night. Over the next weeks or months, we would perfect our parts. Since the arrangements are porous, the songs are constantly reinterpreted - each player has the freedom to "take it away" should the spirit move him. We didn't use set lists, we bopped till we dropped and gave 110% each and every night. The low and the mighty rubbed shoulders. It wasn't unusual to see Joe Strummer, Neil Young, Liam Neesan, Brooke Shields, Danny Strummer or Matt Dillon lift glasses with revolutionaries, cops, barmaids, politicians, gay activists, bookies and a dizzying kaleidoscope of New Yorkers.

We released a CD and it sold by the bucketful. The word spread to Boston, Chicago and San Francisco and we toured regularly. Our first big break came when John Anderson of Newsday wrote a three-page uncensored article on the band which almost got us all killed. The lines snaked around the corner of Reilly's, and a multitude of record companies showed up, eager to categorize, compartmentalize, sign, seal, and deliver us to the great American public.

Ric Ocasek materialized one night and claimed he could fulfill the songs better than the Independent CD. We cut Fire of Freedom in a frantic three weeks, released the single Funky Céili, did a video and were added to MTV in two shakes of a ram's tail. We were covered by every magazine from Playgirl to Time and hit the road in search of Fame and America. Every pundit in the music industry said we should stop playing Reilly's for fear we'd be known as a bar band. But we had other things on our mind, like feeding our families by playing regularly, staying close to our roots and keeping independence because, in the long run, it's not where you play, it's what you play and how.

When it comes down to it, it's the songs that count! It would have been simple to do a Fire of Freedom Part 2. Perhaps, it would have been safer. But then there were new themes to tackle, new heroes to invent or rediscover, and new sounds to paint with. On Home of the Brave, songs like Oh Maureen, Blood Wedding, Black Rose, Road To Ruin, Too Late To Turn Back and Danny Boy deal with characters who peopled the urban frontier of the lower east side I used to live in; while Big Fellah and Born To Be Free concerned giants like Michael Collins and Paul Robeson. Time To Go was Chris Byrne's powerful songwriting debut on a major label.

We have since recorded 5 more CDs: Green Suede Shoes, Live in New York City, Trouble in the Land, On Fire and New York Town (will be released on Feb 10, 2004). Each of those released was a critical success and all still sell both in stores, at gigs and on the web. Green Suede Shoes contains some of my best songs. With that album, I tried to go back and capture the raw energy of our first years in the city and I think it shows. Most of the songs became immediate live favorites but the one I am most proud of took me over fifteen years to write. It's called Bobby Sands MP. I think it's also one of our finest recordings; I only need to hear it for seconds before I'm transported back to the psychotic streets of Belfast in those awful days of the early 80's when ten young men were about to die for a political principle. It's a constant reminder to me, at any rate, that peace is a fragile thing and should be treasured as well as fostered.

Live in New York City was recorded in Wetlands on St. Patrick's Day 1998. It has become a particular favorite on campuses and I feel is responsible for a lot of the band's popularity in colleges and high schools throughout the country. If you want to feel the speedy, irreverent pulse of New York City in the late 90's, just close your eyes and listen. That's what it was like and you are there.

Trouble in the Land is our best received album since Fire of Freedom. Some say it's the most mature. I wonder? With songs like I Got Laid on James Joyce's Grave and Bodhráns on the Brain? While it doesn't eschew politics - songs like Bobby Kennedy, Touched by Fire and the title track still keep the flag flying - still there is a considered feel to Blood Is Thicker Than Water and Fallin' Off The Edge of America. It contains one of my all time favorite Black 47 songs - Tramps Heartbreak and the radio favorite, Susan Falls Apart.

ON FIRE is another live selection of our best songs. It was recorded at The Knitting Factory or Wetlands (I'm writing this from the head and don't have the notes in front of me.) It contains another of my favorite songs, Our Lady of the Bronx which had been on the first EMI EP released in late 1992. Also, listen out for a scorching version of Johnny Byrne's Jigs, dedicated to our late studio engineer/soundman who is always with us in spirits.

New York Town will be released on Feb 10th, 2004. It's an album dedicated to the city that took me in (in more ways than one), gave me a home and provided a fertile field for Black 47 to grow in. Some of the songs deal with 9/11 and its affect on the band and the city. One that's already reaching beyond cult status is Mychal, dedicated to a late friend and fan of the band - Father Mychal Judge, OFM, chaplain of the NYFD. Orphan of the Storm commemorates the hero of American Wake (from ON FIRE)and outlines his life in NYC before 9/11. The cd contains performances by Rosanne Cash, David Johanses, Suzzy Roche, Eileen Ivers, Mary Courtney, Roz Moorehead, Christine Ohlman and Ashley Davis.

In fourteen years, we've played well over 2000 gigs all over the USA, Europe and South America, did all the major TV shows, closed down the town of Hoboken, appeared in movies and had our songs on their soundtracks, rocked Shea Stadium three times, been shot at, crawled from van wrecks, blacklisted, banned, fired and rehired, sold a ton of CDs, been written about by every paper and magazine that matters and yet we've never even considered watering down the political and social ideals, the determination to be original and the black sense of humor that inspired us on that first fateful evening when we rocked the Bronx.

Not for nothing have we been called "the house band for New York City," We've now moved to Connolly's of 121 W 45 Street for our Winter Saturday residency (call 212-597-5126 to make sure we're not on the road). The Daily News called our Saturday gigs "a rite of passage for all New Yorkers;" and we like to think that there's a little New Yorker in everyone. If not, we'll put it there! See you around.

- Larry Kirwan


Reviews


to write a review

martin kenny

always on the cutting edge
I remember Kirwin and Turner playing in durty Nellies on Kingsbridge road in the bronx 1973, they were young and inovative then, what else do i have to say ,30 years later there still playing and appealing to the young punter ,

martin kenny

always on the cutting edge
I remember Kirwin and Turner playing in durty Nellies on Kingsbridge road in the bronx 1973, they were young and inovative then, what else do i have to say ,30 years later there still playing and appealing to the young punter ,

Bruce Lomet (CHINASKI)

a GREAT listening EXPERIENCE
Black 47's "Trouble In The Land" contains all the elements we've come to expect: a commitment to speaking the truth and the same completely uncategorizable mix of sounds. These guys almost always have a point to make, and they'll use damn near anything at their disposal to make it. Traditional uilleann pipes, contemporary Jamaican rhythms, heartfelt sincerity, street corner snottiness, historical memories or tomorrow's headlines - it's all fodder for Larry Kirwan and his eclectic band of music makers.

from rob ,aka holy warrior with black oracle on cdbaby

i just had time to get a little listen if im clear on your message it's nice
the music was very warm and enjoyable .i couldnt get your full meaning of your message so i'm hoping[ trouble in the land] was a mix of dealing with all types of problems not from a racist
viewpoint but discribing sterio type rolls the media puts us in .[i'm hoping thats your message !] if so then great the group i'm in is call black oracle and my cd's holy warrior bullets in my flesh.
and the world gone crazy ,are close to what you guys are doing , im hoping almost the same message but from another culture and race that are after the same dream of opening eyes of the world. please fill free to check out our cd's as well and give me some real feed back.