Wolfe Tones

Rifles of the I.R.A.

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Although Wolfe Tones claim to have no specific political loyalties, their career is filled with songs of praise for the Irish Republicans -- admittedly, it could just be that the Ulster Unionists haven't written any decent songs -- and 1991's Rifles of the I.R.A. is their most political album ever. Almost all of the Wolfe Tones' other albums added a few non-political songs to the mix, but all 14 of these tunes deal, at times obliquely but usually most directly, with The Troubles, both historical and current. About half the tunes are traditional ballads like "Holy Ground" and popular folk songs like "God Save Ireland," with the rest of the album given to stirring rebel songs like Brendan Behan's title track and a few band originals, mostly by mandolin player Derek Warfield. One does not need to have chosen sides to enjoy Rifles of the I.R.A., as the group singing and Tom Byrne's lead vocals are attraction enough for all but the most committed Unionists, but the historical liner notes, complete with suggestions for further research, do help to add a new layer of interest to the songs.

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