This 12-song LP gives a bracing and vivid account of some of the best-known songs that helped pass the work of the Irish Republican Army and its sympathizers to the people -- and since 1923 have helped keep the memory of the Old IRA alive. Most of what is here is, as expected, folk material adapted to the needs of the time. And the approach is mostly as spare as the authentic tradition demands, primarily solo singers with perhaps an upright bass and concertina and snare drum -- the big exceptions are the two tracks credited to Enoch Kent, which get almost a pop treatment, with electric guitar and choral embellishment. But whatever the settings, they're all sung with bracing, infectious passion by Kent, Diarmuid O'Neill, and Patrick O'Malley. As to the singers themselves, there's always been a matter of conjecture regarding who appears on this record; Enoch Kent is still performing as of 2009, 46 years after it was made, but no one was ever sure who Diarmuid O'Neill or Patrick O'Malley were. And it has been rumored (and never denied or refuted) since this album's release in 1963 that they were one and the same man, and that man was actually Dominic Behan, the author, activist, and composer best known for "The Patriot Game." The latter song is not here, but assuming that it is Behan, he does give a superb account of his uncle's composition "The Soldier's Song" (which became the National Anthem of the Irish Free State). And it's worth tracking down on that basis alone.
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