Following the success of military-based albums, such as The Soldiers - Coming Home and The Central Band of the Royal Air Force, the Irish Republican Army has pledged not to be outdone by releasing their own CD under the name 'The Paramilitaries'.
According to band leader Sean McGuinness, The Paramilitaries is designed to highlight the IRA as a legitimate organisation: 'if it's good enough for the British, then it's good enough for us,' he told journalists. McGuinness also denied claims that recording an album somehow waters down the seriousness of the republican's mission. 'Music and republicanism have gone hand in hand since the struggles began - sure, didn't Michael Collins himself release a record of bird noises back in the day? Although I have to admit that Bobby Sands' cover version of Duran Duran's 'Hungry Like the Wolf' back in the 80's probably did the cause more harm than good.'
According to insiders, recording of the album was beset with problems from the start, with audio engineers having to cope with a series of coded telephone calls before eventually being given the location of the studio. It has also been revealed that the entire project was almost shelved when a number of artists left the band, citing musical differences, to form their own splinter group, The Real Paramilitaries. Their album, Pan Pipebomb Moods, an uncompromising collection of traditional Irish folk tunes, is out next month.
The early release of The Paramilitaries' album has also caused fury among unionist activists, who have accused the IRA of timing it to overshadow their own artistic endeavours - a collection of traditional marching tunes by the UDF brass band and the Londonderry Loyalist Ballet Troupe's production of I am Curious, Orange.
Critics have hailed the new album as a brave and innovative approach towards a united Ireland, with Skinz Harrison of the NME calling it 'a masterpiece' in his review. 'As a whole, The Paramilitaries' CD can be seen as a musical history of the Troubles, starting with an unconventional cover version of the Death In Vegas hit, Scorpio (Easter) Rising, before continuing with old favourites such as Sunday Bloody Sunday, Belfast Child and Through the Barricades.'
'The Paramilitaries also tip their balaclavas to the role played by Britain's ex-pat Irish community, with their take on the jaunty Cockney classic 'Kneecap Mother Brown',' he writes, before warning readers not to be put off by the overtly militant tone of the album. 'This record is as contemporary as it is historical, ending as it does with a tribute to former Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Molwem and the role she played in securing the Good Friday Peace Agreement. Lamenting her untimely death, The Paramilitaries sign off with a solemn and respectful treatment of the Joe Tex classic 'Ain't Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)'.'