The Pogues


The Pogues

Red Roses for Me (Rhino)

The Pogues

Rum, Sodomy & the Lash (Rhino)

The Pogues

If I Should Fall From Grace With God (Rhino)

The Pogues

Peace and Love (Rhino)

The Pogues

Hell's Ditch (Rhino)

Phases and Stages
Blasphemous as it sounds, the Pogues were as British as bangers and mash. Born and based around Kings Cross, London's designated dumping ground for all manner of immigrants, outcasts, and reprobates, the perpetually soused ensemble wrote the book on perverting Irish folk with punk rock, and vice versa. To wit, 1984 debut Red Roses for Me: tin whistles and accordion pressed into the Sex Pistols' service, ancient tunes cauterizing Thatcher-era despair. Blokes took notice; Elvis Costello signed on to produce '85's Rum, Sodomy & the Lash (and married the bass player, though that's another story). Populated by mythical Irish heroes ("The Sickbed of Cuchulainn") and enough drunken louts to fill a season of The Young Ones, the sophomore effort also reveled in the band's love of the Wild West ("Jesse James") and sentimental balladry ("Dirty Old Town"). 1988's If I Should Fall From Grace With God remains the Pogues' tour de force, a brilliant fusion of influences distilled from an inhuman amount of alcohol consumption. Assisted by Steve Lillywhite, they were in top form, staggering sneering rockers ("Bottle of Smoke") among a widening gyre of cross-cultural forays ("Fiesta") and steel-plated pop classics ("Fairytale of New York"). Drunk as they were, stumbling was inevitable, and they did on 1989's scatterbrained, overambitious Peace and Love, though not so spectacularly they couldn't toss off a couple of keepers ("Lorelei," "Misty Morning, Albert Bridge") in the bargain. Producer Joe Strummer's steady hand and singer Shane MacGowan's rejuvenating Thailand holiday made 1991's Hell's Ditch an impressive recovery, but even the dulcet "The Sunny Side of the Street" and "Summer in Siam" couldn't save them. Still, "You couldn't kill the soul of their music with a fuckin' shovel," writes U.S. filmmaker Jim Jarmusch in new liner notes – all titles add bonus tracks – and indeed, they've mended enough fences lately to play a few shows per year ... usually in March. Ahem.

(Red Roses for Me) ****

(Rum, Sodomy & the Lash) ****

(If I Should Fall From Grace With God) *****

(Peace and Love) **

(Hell's Ditch) ***

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