IN THE NEWS
The official soundtrack to Arms and Influence already includes Warren Zevon and Steve Earle. I'll add a new entry to the list, the New York-based band Black 47, which probably sings more about revolution than any group currently making CDs.
Black 47 takes its name, as you might guess, from the 1847 potato famine in Ireland. Their albums are always a mix of anger and humor, political history and personal anecdote, rock and traditional music. Their latest, Elvis Murphy's Green Suede Shoes, is no exception. Like the side-splitting "Maria's Wedding," Czechoslovakia," and "40 Shades of Blue," "Girl Next Door" is a hilarious bit of self-mockery. "The History of Ireland" is almost a punctuation mark for the other songs on the same topic, spanning all of Black 47's recordings. "Downtown Baghdad Blues" is as topical as the more biting "New York Town" from their previous album.
Even though Elvis Murphy's Green Suede Shoes is by no means the best album by Black 47, it's still a challenging, enjoyable mix of different types of songs. If you miss The Pogues and The Clash, you'll find a new home with Black 47. Like Joe Strummer on his album Global A Go-Go, Black 47 updates the traditional song of Irish independence, "The Minstrel Boy," for a modern audience. I wouldn't recommend starting your Black 47 listening experience with their latest album, but don't hesitate buying it if that's the only CD you find by them.
[Click here for an interview with Black 47's lead singer and songwriter, Larry Kirwan. The interviewer sounds a bit out of his depth, but Kirwan is always interesting.]