Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Black 47

  • Home of the Brave [SBK, 1994] B-
  • Iraq [UFO, 2008] *

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Home of the Brave [SBK, 1994]
As he'll be happy to tell you if only you ask and probably even if you don't--at great length, all the gory details, plenty of asides, with bells on--Larry Kirwan has been around. The Major Thinkers, Turner & Kirwan of Wexford, God knows and I've forgotten what and who else--failure after failure, always with Kirwan struggling against the injustice of his continued obscurity. And though he's finally landed a major-label contract and three pounds of clippings, he's still struggling, for in truth now, Black 47 hasn't exactly eaten SoundScan for breakfast. Kirwan has plenty of brains and the gift of gab, but he's always overdone it, and these 16 songs last 70 minutes, the better to undergird their hefty arrangements--guitar-bass-drums, pipes and whistles, horn section, arena-jig beat, colleens, gad. Worst of all are Kirwan's vocals, soul-as-melodrama rockism with a brogue. The Irish immigrant underground is a great subject, and Kirwan knows its stories even if he overdoes those too. Maybe some laconic guy with an acoustic guitar will cover a few when the smoke clears. B-

Iraq [UFO, 2008]
At long last Larry Kirwan finds a subject it's impossible to overdo--or anyway, almost impossible ("Battle of Fallujah," "Downtown Baghdad Blues"). *