In retrospect, 1981's Spirit of the Nation is one of the oddest albums by the Wolfe Tones. The Irish quartet's tenth release, it was recorded in the spirited mold of the college folk scene that was so prevalent in the early '60s. Songs like "Protestant Men" and "Paddle Your Own Canoe" have the cheery singalong trio of the Kingston Trio, and it's not until one pays attention to the lyrics of songs like "Padraic Pearse" (a ballad about one of the Irish Republican martyrs of the early 20th century) that one notices the sharp, biting political commentary so prevalent all over this album. The dichotomy is a little odd at first, and then it seems subversively brilliant; one can imagine this album getting slipped onto the turntable during a drunken St. Paddy's Day fraternity bash at some Ivy League college and, in the argot of the day, raising a few people's consciousness. The terribly dated sound of the album makes it much more of a relic than most of the Wolfe Tones' early albums, but Spirit of the Nation is at the very least an interesting curio.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason