News 'Gangs of New York' Turf
   Also Aflame in Rocker's CD
Reprinted from:
Dec. 1, 2002


Press Release  
NEW YORK, N.Y. — As Martin Scorsese’s "Gangs of New York" opens in theaters nationwide, fans can mine even more of Gotham’s gritty history in rock poet Allen Shadow’s new CD, "King Kong Serenade."

The daringly historical album includes a graphic story of the Five Points section of New York mid-19th century in the song "Sugar Street." Shadow sings: "clacking blackened factories/slow drown young men’s dreams/they escape to perfumed streets/where death’s breath smells so sweet/sailors they are lost at sea/cheap as ants on Sugar Street."

While writing the album, Shadow steeped himself in much of the same historical record as Scorsese, including such classic works as late 19th-century muckraker Jacob Riis’ "How the Other Half Lives." With the aid of photographs, the 1890 book chronicled the squalid conditions of Five Points in stark detail.

A former New York City journalist and taxi driver, Shadow also read first-hand accounts from letters of immigrants and recalled stories his Russian-born father told.

"Riis’ photographs were startling," said Shadow. "I was simply transfixed by the period. I felt the story of the darker side of immigration needed to be told."

The Berkshire Eagle calls Shadow "an original storyteller, painting vivid portraits of the romance and terror of life in the world’s greatest city," while the Daily Freeman (Kingston, N.Y.) gives five stars to the album it terms "a poignant missive to New York City."

Shadow’s Gotham portrait on Blue City Records includes songs about Coney Island, Times Square and the South Bronx. Such colorful historical characters as Moondog, Topsy the Elephant and the Mule Faced Boy abound, as do Jack Kerouac, Charles Mingus, Sigmund Freud, and Adolf Hitler.

Information on Shadow can be found online at, including free downloads of "Sugar Street" and other songs.


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