July 24, 2010
Rambles.NET: Black 47, Bankers & Gangsters
Black 47,
Bankers & Gangsters
(United For Opportunity, 2010)

New York's Black 47 turns 24, and the band's years of wisdom shows through in their newest CD Bankers & Gangsters. The musicians in the band frame singer Larry Kirwan's lyrics in that Black 47 orchestra-rock band style. The women of Screaming Orphans bring a feminine voice to many of the tracks, along with Kathleen Fee and Christine Ohlman.

Kirwan's fetching voice once again brings to life his poetic words, while Black 47 celebrates its heritage as great storytellers through song and the band's own distinctive style. This is one upbeat set of tracks with stories that give you something to think about while you are dancing the night away.

The Bankers & Gangsters songbook is another compilation of Kirwan's observations and stories about heroes and heroines, life circumstances and regrets. In the title cut, Kirwan notes the debauchery of the financial meltdown, suggesting how just plain folk (the middle class) have lost. Kirwan suggests temperance by the high priests of the financial institutes, but change eludes them. Truth speaks through art.

Again, Kirwan celebrates women with his remembrance of "Rosemary (Nelson)" and his recognition of the "Celtic Rocker." I love how Kirwan shapes "Celtic Rocker" as HER moment of self-discovery through Celtic rock ... the good, the bad and the ugly.

Kirwan reminds us that while Black 47 are the lords of Celtic rock, they are just as much a great rock band. Kirwan has been known to resist the label of "Celtic rock band," he now throws down and embraces the legacy ... and why the hell not? Shouldn't all rock bands have pipes and whistles? Joe Mulvanerty and Fred Parcells probably think so.

Pipe on, Black 47, for another 20 years. I'll be gripping my walker, tapping my toes and dancing at your concerts even then.

music review by
Louise Dunphy

24 July 2010

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