Kilroy Was Here

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
Since Larry Kirwan is the lead singer and chief songwriter of his own band, Black 47, one may validly ask why he needs to launch a concurrent solo recording career with Kilroy Was Here. His earlier release, Keltic Kids, was a children's album. The answer, on the evidence of this disc, is that he wanted an outlet for his softer, more extended reflections. Black 47 member Fred Parcells provides brass and string arrangements played on his own trombone, Rich Viruet's trumpet, Faith Glassman and Lisa Gutkin's violins, and David Conrad's cello, and they, along with the guitar, bass, and drums, provide stately, melodic backgrounds to Kirwan's lengthy ballads. Set at loping ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
Since Larry Kirwan is the lead singer and chief songwriter of his own band, Black 47, one may validly ask why he needs to launch a concurrent solo recording career with Kilroy Was Here. His earlier release, Keltic Kids, was a children's album. The answer, on the evidence of this disc, is that he wanted an outlet for his softer, more extended reflections. Black 47 member Fred Parcells provides brass and string arrangements played on his own trombone, Rich Viruet's trumpet, Faith Glassman and Lisa Gutkin's violins, and David Conrad's cello, and they, along with the guitar, bass, and drums, provide stately, melodic backgrounds to Kirwan's lengthy ballads. Set at loping tempos, the songs are full of Kirwan's contemplations of life and memory, contemplations not unlike those he engages in his Black 47 songs. As usual, he is describing the background of an Irish expatriate who comes to New York "Life's Like That, Isn't It?" is another of his autobiographies, but remains obsessed by his native country and its troubled history. It isn't hard to point to the influences here. Van Morrison's Astral Weeks is a clear antecedent, as is Bruce Springsteen's The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle, at least on its ballads. See also the Waterboys and Dexys Midnight Runners. Kirwan's voice remains an acquired taste; he alternates between a throaty, near-spoken tone and a strained, adenoidal tenor wail, always sounding much more impressed with his own lyrics than any listener could ever be. But there are songs that justify his sense of drama, notably "Molly," in which the other man in a romantic triangle expresses his emotional turmoil. Still, this is an album for people who have already discovered Kirwan through Black 47 and become sympathetic to his worldview and tolerant of his voice.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 2/27/2001
  • Label: Gadfly
  • UPC: 076605227326
  • Catalog Number: 273
  • Sales rank: 376,849

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Larry Kirwan Primary Artist, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Hammond Synth
Mike Fazio Pedal Steel Guitar
Lisa Gutkin Violin
Stewart Lerman Guitar, Hammond Synth
Paul Ossola Electric Bass, Double Bass
Fred Parcells Trombone
Suzzy Roche Vocals
David Tronzo Slide Guitar
Frank Vilardi Percussion, Drums
Copernicus Vocals
Richie Viruet Trumpet
David Conrad Cello
Technical Credits
Mark Dann Mastering
Larry Kirwan Producer
Stewart Lerman Producer, Engineer
Fred Parcells String Arrangements, Bass Arrangement
Tom Schick Engineer
Larrt Kirwan Producer
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Another side of Larry Kirwan

    I have long been an admirer of Kirwan¿s work, and while I knew this effort would be a good and noble one, there was no way I could have known just how much so, until I could listen alone and concentrate on the material. Telling a story is an art at which Kirwan excels, as I have learned from listening to his work with Black 47, and also from his excellent CD, ''Keltic Kids''. ''Kilroy was Here'' is quite the stylistic departure from his previous work, with a brass section, fiddles, and guitar in tight ensemble. The songs are long enough to let the listener wallow, and poignant enough to inspire tears, and the overall effect is Magickal. There are touches of humor, too, namely the Dylanesque ''History of Ireland, Part 1''. In places, I could almost swear I was listening to Bob, until Kirwan¿s light brogue and charming inflections took over. Commentary interjected throughout by Malachy MacCourt is a treat: ''¿gettin¿ Ollie Cromwell pissed off was not a good idea¿'' If I had to choose my favorite songs, I would go with ''Molly'', ''Kilroy was Here'', ''Life¿s Like That, Isn¿t It?'', ''Girl in the Rain'', ''Spanish Moon'', and ''Walkin¿ With Her God''. ''Molly'' evokes images from James Joyce¿s ''Ulysses'', of course, and appears to be told from the point of view of Molly Bloom¿s lover. The chorus is beautifully enhanced by Suzzy Roche¿s backing vocals, and I am left wondering how any woman could resist such an eloquent plea: ''Don¿t go Molly/Don¿t go darlin¿/We can make it if we try/Don¿t disappear back into him/ Don¿t say goodbye'' ''Kilroy was Here'' depicts the lonely, transient state of any World War II serviceman on leave, in search of a little companionship: the man who did not want to spend his furlough in some crowded, noisy bar. He finds what he is seeking, but must leave it behind, and is lonelier than when he started out, especially once he realizes that his companion will not wait for his return, but will forget him the moment someone more compelling comes along. The atmosphere feels like a foggy autumn night, stars and moon hidden by the vaporish cataract as a man in uniform wanders a deserted street. The bygone era I sense can only been seen in black and white, as in ''Casablanca''. ''On the quayside she waits, her face cold and ashen/Shiverin¿ with fear, we used to call it passion'' ''Life¿s Like That, Isn¿t It?'' sounds biographical, even confessional. If the story of the boy¿s acquisition of the guitar parallels how Kirwan got his first guitar, then we should all be thanking his father for being savvy enough to buy it. I can visualize every scene Kirwan sets in this song, especially the young boy with his guitar, ''turning pain to music'' as he plays for his parents and tries not to be jealous of his father. And how well he documents the boy¿s conflict over religion: ''The boy is religious, serves Mass at the Friary/He¿s got a crush on St. Anthony/Got a hot date with him when he gets to Heaven/But it¿s still hard to get up at twenty to seven/On a gale-force mornin¿, slates hittin¿ the streets/Exploding in smithereens all around him/He runs in fear past the deserted garden/Where a man hung himself, his soul ever after/Sentenced to roam in search of salvation'' ''Girl in the Rain'' makes me think of Wuthering Heights. I recall that final time when Cathy runs after Heathcliff, into the wind and the rain, after he has oveheard that dreadful speech she makes to Nelly Dean: ''It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now.'' As in that sad story, one senses the girl in the song cannot be comforted, no matter how gentle and kind her savior. The song is all the man¿s plea to the woman, with no reply from her. ''Hey you, girl in despair/Your lips so naked/I can feel every fear that you feel'' This is a nice idea, but if I were the girl in question, I would wonder how any man, or any other woman, for that matter, could possibly feel exactly what I was in a moment like that. F

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