Wolfe Tones

Live Alive-Oh

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The key to the Wolfe Tones is that while their music is explicitly political, they're not the po-faced polemicists that so many of their political folk brethren can be. This 1986 live set, recorded in front of a loudly appreciative crowd at the National Ballroom in Kilburn, Ireland, has the lusty spirit and lighthearted humor of the best Irish folk music, which gives the biting edge of songs like "Sean South of Garryowen," "The Boys of the Old Brigade," and "Come Out Ye Black and Tans" a stirring, life-affirming quality missing from some. Wisely, the Wolfe Tones also lard this two-album set with a generous dose of non-political entertainments, focusing on sly, witty tunes like "Travelling Doctor's Shop" and the hilarious spoken-word shaggy dog story "Paddy's Dream," and a few well-played traditional instrumentals like "Princess Royal." One of the Wolfe Tones' better albums, Live Alive-Oh is a fine introduction to an often-intriguing band.

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