- Released: July 23, 1996
- Label: Capitol
Spin - 3/93, p.77
Highly Recommended - "...the record's continuity lies in its sheer exuberance. A glorious debut..."
Q - 8/93, p.884 Stars (out of 5)
- "...a batch of enormously detailed songs....the result is always passionate..."
- 1.Livin' In America (Fordham Road 8:00 AM)
- 2.Maria's Wedding
- 3.Rockin' The Bronx
- 4.Fanatic Heart
- 5.Funky Ceili (Bridie's Song)
- 6.Fire Of Freedom
- 7.James Connolly
- 8.Livin' In America (Bainbridge Avenue 2:00 AM)
- 9.Banks Of The Hudson
- 10.40 Shades Of Blue
- 11.New York, NY 10009
- 12.Sleep Tight In New York City / Her Dear Old Donegal
- 13.Black 47
- 14.Livin' In America
Black 47: Larry Kirwan (vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion); Chris Byrne (vocals, Uilleann pipes, tin whistle, bodhran); Geoffrey Blythe (soprano, tenor & baritone saxophones); Fred Parcells (vocals, tin whistle, trombone); David Conrad (bass); Thomas Hamlin (drums, percussion).
Additional personnel: Ric Ocasek (vocals, guitar, keyboards); Mike Fazio (guitar); Darryl Jenifer (keyboards, bass, background vocals); Deborah Berg, Sherryl Marshall, Emily Bindiger, Mary Martellom, Morning-Star Mary Courtney (background vocals).
Engineers include: Jon Goldberger, Johnny Byrne, David Heglmeier.
Originally released on SBK (80686).
No other band so succinctly captures the joys and travails of the Irish in America as New York's Black 47. The group's debut FIRES OF FREEDOM comprises romanticism and realism in equal parts. Black 47 unrolls heart-on-sleeve epics worthy of Springsteen while sparing none of the gritty details about the lives of the songs' subjects. Singer Larry Kirwan's urgent yelp sounds like a combo platter of Kevin Rowlands and Feargal Sharkey, and the expansive narrative form of his lyrics betrays his moonlighting playwright activities.
Black 47's sound is a collision of Irish flavoring (the band has a full- time Uillean pipes player) and '80s-ish rock. Producer Ric Ocasek further heightens the new-wave aspect of the latter. The songs' settings depict New York City and Ireland, reflecting the bicultural nature of the band. "Rockin' the Bronx" even ventures into hip-hop, as the group tells the story of its development and of clashes with pub owners who only want to hear traditional Irish music. Unfortunately, FIRE OF FREEDOM was Black 47's commercial peak, though the band soldiered on into the 21st century. The album remains a powerful slice of Irish-American life.