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Askew Review 15

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BLACK 47- Bittersweet Sixteen (Gadfly Records) This is the sort of thing I can imagine 40-somethings with a bit of bite still left in them listening to. You know the type- used to rock out and booze up until 4:00 AM but now end the evening at eleven o’clock. (Gotta get back so the luscious babysitter can get home at a decent hour. Or maybe they’re just tired. Or maybe they have a hard-on for the babysitter. Ohhh, the babysitter…). Anyhow, as the title suggests, this disc encapsulates 16 years of Black 47’s Celtic-infused New York pop, and it’s a good sampling of what this band is all about. There are the requisite amount of hits (my favorite being the irresistible “Funky Ceili”), covers, live bits and previously unreleased tracks. Bittersweet Sixteen also features a nice little anti-war themed, thoughtful block of songs (“My Love is in New York ”/”Downtown Baghdad Blues”/”Southside Chicago Waltz”). The lyrics are strong throughout- in fact, front man Larry Kirwan is a great all-around writer and I definitely recommend his rollicking autobiography, Green Suede Shoes- and the music is consistently well played. The only downside here for me is that I generally like things a bit more sonically hard-hitting than this at times playful, at times gentle, at times solemn fare. But hell, I’ll be 40 in just a few short years, and when I am, this will probably be totally right up my deteriorating alley. –Ben Hunter

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