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Music Review: Black 47 – Iraq

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The idea of another protest the war themed CD may not strike the attention of many these days.  It seems just about every other band out there that opposes the war throws out a CD about bringing the troops home or ridding of the president from his throne.  Black 47 is one of those bands, but they have a more personal approach.  With the release of Iraq, they protest, through the eyes of fans who are overseas.  This CD was released under United For Opportunity Records.

Irish-American rockers Black 47 may not be your commonly known band but rest assured they have been around for years.  Formed in the Bronx of New York in the early eighties, the band is defined as a Celtic rock act.  They found some success in the early nineties thanks to MTV overplaying their singles and also have been considered influences for many current bands today.    In fact, the band is credited with helping pave the way for successful Irish punk rock bands Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly.

Black 47 remains very personal to their fans.  They maintain their own website and pride themselves on answering all emails.  Some of their fans who are fighting the war overseas continue to email them.  A few of these personal emails from fans who did not like their current situation were taken from the screen and incorporated into songs.  The result is a CD with lyrics full of emotion from actual people who see what is going on.  This is not a fun CD by any means but more of a tragic realization.

Starting off the CD is “Stars and Stripes” a track about being homesick.  The song might not stand out so much if these were just fabricated lyrics, but you can feel the sorrow and anger throughout the song about wanting to go home while caught up in an ambush.  The soft horns accompanying the singing really add to the condition of the song.

“Downtown Baghdad Blues” may have had a fun feel to it with the upbeat horns and guitars but in reality the song is about a service man who “didn’t want to come here” and “didn’t get to choose”.  This is a track worthy of checking out.  The storytelling is superb in accompany with some nice traditional Celtic rock.

Blues rocking “Sadr City” caught me off guard as it was a musical change up from previous tracks.  The song  “The Last One To Die” was interesting with more of an old ska tone to it.  The chilling “Battle Of Fallujah” was more personal about “dodging hell” and just being a soldier getting through the war. 

The depressing “Southside Chicago Waltz” closes the CD with a song about writing home and missing loved ones.  It is a love song at times and also a thought of the worst.  Mixed emotions on this track really create an unhappiness no one deserves to go through.

The CD had an effect on me.  After listening through the tracks I could not help but feel for the ones who feel trapped over there.  We all hope it will end soon and we all have different opinions about it.  This Irish-American band has put out the most unique protest album I have heard thus far.  Not all Irish music is intended to help get hammered on St. Patty’s Day.  In fact, this year if you celebrate St. Patty’s, take a moment and throw a toast up for the ones who are fighting overseas that deserve to come home.

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About Brian McConville

  • I’ve been a Black ’47 fan for years. I have seen reviews of this album which totally miss the point. This, is not one of them. This is an album FOR the men over there. That get lost in the media hype and misdirection which we get back here. We’re told the war is over, yet people are fighting and dying. We’re told they are there for our safety yet, most of us feel no more safe. Black ’47 has always been political. If they are talking about the politics of Ireland or England over the last few centuries, or the politics of America today you should be no more surprised. But for anyone who thinks this is about cutting and running and “giving in to terrorists” really take a good hard listen to these songs. Songs taken from the words of our military men and women who are actually there in Iraq, not sitting at their desks in the safety of their homes with their families totally missing the point.

  • Picked up this CD (IRAQ) last week – brutally honest, timely & it rocks!

    One of the best statements to come out of this misadventure we find ourselves in.

    A tip o the hat to Black 47!