Black 47 – Bittersweet Sixteen (CD)

“Home of the Brave” is a great way to start “Bittersweet Sixteen”, mixing together a very eighties type of American pop with a set of bagpipes to start a traditional/current dichotomy. Very few bands actually make it past the five year mark, so to see that Black 47 has been around for sixteen years is a statement all to itself. This greatest hits collects sixteen tracks from the band’s sixteen years, and individuals should expect to be swept away by the talent exhibited by Black 47 throughout the entirety of this disc. The cover of “For What Its Worth” makes a plea for listeners of Weezer to pick up this CD, as the simplistic sound of the arrangements during this track makes Black 47 into a well-oiled hits machine.

The inclusion of a horn is perhaps the only derivation to what is a fairly Spartan track. On a disc of hits, this cover stands heads and shoulders above anything else on this album. One thing that Black 47 does with this CD is create a cohesion amongst the tracks. This means that “Bittersweet Sixteen” has the feel of a new album while using tracks from all of the band’s previous releases. Where a number of the tracks show Black 47 as a band that mixes a little bit of Irish influence into a pop-rock framework, songs like “Southside Chicago Waltz” flips the script and increases the Irish influence to the point that theold and new countries are inexorably linked. “Big Fellah” is yet another of those tracks that show Black 47 as masters of creating a narrative within their tracks that will hook listeners. The music isn’t the loudest or most experimental, but Black 47 is amongst the most genuine acts out their.

This is one of the reasons why they have amassed such a large and dedicated fanbase in the last sixteen years, and what the band will be around well longer than practically any other band created at the same time. Black 47 brings the same bouncy demeanor that a number of other Irish acts have while still crafting songs that will get individuals thinking. No major chinks in their armor mean that Black 47 is already a few steps ahead of their competition, and the songs on this album are of a quality to put the thumbscrews to other Irish-identifying acts like The Pogues and The Tossers.

Top Tracks: Big Fellah, Road To Ruin

Rating: 7.5/10


Black 47 – Bittersweet Sixteen / 2006 Gadfly / 16 Tracks / / / Reviewed 26 March 2006

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