Dec 21, 2016

RhoDeo 1651 Aetix


Today's artists were a Celtic punk band from London, were founded in Kings Cross, a district of Central London, in 1982 as Pogue Mahone—pogue mahone being the anglicisation of the Irish póg mo thóin, meaning "kiss my arse" and fronted by Shane MacGowan. The band reached international prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. MacGowan left the band in 1991 due to drinking problems but the band continued first with Joe Strummer and then with Spider Stacy on vocals before breaking up in 1996.  ......N'Joy

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By demonstrating that the spirit of punk could live in traditional Irish folk music, the Pogues were one of the most radical bands of the mid-'80s. Led by Shane MacGowan, whose slurred, incomprehensible voice often disguised the sheer poetry of his songs, the Pogues were undeniably political -- not only were many of their songs explicitly in favor of working-class liberalism, but the wild, careening sound of their punk-injected folk was implicitly radical. While the band was clearly radical, they also had a wickedly warped sense of humor, which was abundantly clear on their biggest hit, the fractured Christmas carol "Fairy Tale of New York." The group's first three albums -- Red Roses for Me, Rum Sodomy & the Lash, If I Should Fall from Grace with God -- were widely praised in both Britain and America, and by 1988 they had earned substantial cult followings in both countries. Yet MacGowan's darkly romantic, wasted lifestyle, which was so key to their spirit and success, ultimately proved to be their downfall. By the end of the decade, he had fallen deep into alcoholism and drug addiction, forcing the band to fire him if they wanted to survive. The Pogues carried on without him in the early '90s, playing to a slowly shrinking audience before finally disbanding in 1996.

MacGowan, an Irish punk inspired by the Clash, formed the Pogues in 1982 after playing with the London-based punk band the Nipple Erectors, a group that was later called the Nips. MacGowan met Spider Stacy in a London tube station, where Stacy was playing a tin whistle. The two began working together, drafting former Nip Jim Fearnley to play guitar. Naming themselves Pogue Mahone -- a Gaelic term meaning "kiss my ass" -- the trio began playing traditional Irish tunes in London pubs and streets, eventually adding Jem Finer (banjo, guitar), Andrew David Ranken (drums), and Cait O'Riordan (bass) to make it a full band. As the group developed into a sextet, they added MacGowan's original songs to their repertoire, and began earning a reputation as a wild, drunken, and exciting live act.

Shortening their name to the Pogues, the group released an independent single, "Dark Streets of London," in early 1984 and supported the Clash on their summer tour. By the fall, they had signed with Stiff Records and had released their acclaimed debut Red Roses for Me. The album was a critical hit, establishing the Pogues as one of the most vital, and certainly one of the most political, bands in Britain. Early in 1985, they added guitarist Philip Chevron and recorded Rum Sodomy & the Lash with producer Elvis Costello. The album was an underground success and was widely praised, especially for MacGowan's songwriting -- not only in the U.K., but also in the U.S., where they were becoming college radio staples. Instead of following Rum Sodomy & the Lash with a new album, the Pogues took nearly a full-year hiatus from recording, releasing the Poguetry in Motion EP in 1986 and appearing in Alex Cox's film Straight to Hell in 1987. By 1988, O'Riordan had left the band to marry Costello, and she was replaced by Darryl Hunt; banjoist Terry Woods was also added to the band. Early in 1988, they signed to Island Records and released the Steve Lillywhite-produced If I Should Fall from Grace with God later that year. The album became the group's biggest hit, generating the number two U.K. single "Fairytale of New York," which featured vocalist Kirsty MacColl.

Although the Pogues were peaking in popularity, MacGowan's relentless drug and alcohol abuse was beginning to cripple the band. Although neither the 1989 hit single "Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah" or Peace & Love (also 1989) were noticeably affected by his excesses, MacGowan missed the Pogues' prestigious opening dates in 1988 for Bob Dylan and stalked the stage like a madman during a pivotal Saturday Night Live performance. By 1990's Hell's Ditch, Spider Stacy and Jem Finer began singing the bulk of the Pogues' material. Despite positive reviews, Hell's Ditch was a flop, and the group wasn't able to support the record because of MacGowan's behavior. Consequently, he was asked to leave the band in 1991; three years later, he returned with a new band, the Popes.

For subsequent tours, the Clash's Joe Strummer filled in as lead vocalist, but by the time the band recorded their comeback, Waiting for Herb, in 1993, Stacy had become the permanent vocalist. Waiting for Herb was kindly reviewed, yet was also ignored, as was 1995's Pogue Mahone. The following year, the Pogues announced they were disbanding after 14 years in the business. They stayed dormant for the rest of the '90s while MacGowan's work with the Popes slowly came to an end and other members sought their own creative avenues. In 2001, the group made amends with MacGowan and reunited for a short British tour. This goodwill carried through the next decade as the group continued to play short international tours and make one-off appearances eventually releasing a box set of rarities (Just Look Them Straight in the Eye and Say....Pogue Mahone!!) in 2008 and a live album (The Pogues in Paris: 30th Anniversary Concert) in 2012. Just prior to the release of their career-spanning 30 Years box set in 2013, the group's longtime guitarist Philip Chevron passed away from esophageal cancer. Chevron was the author of one of the Pogues' most revered songs, "Thousands Are Sailing," and had become a sort of unofficial spokesperson for the band in its later period.

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What set the Pogues apart from any number of other energetic Irish traditional bands was the sheer physical force of their performances, the punky swagger of their personalities, and Shane MacGowan's considerable gifts as a songwriter. Unfortunately, none of these qualities comes through very clearly on their first album, Red Roses for Me. While the Pogues are in good form here, the production (by Stan Brennan) is thin and lacks the body or nuance to capture the finer details of the performances, robbing this recording of the fire the group would display on their later albums. And it's clear that MacGowan had not yet fully matured as a songwriter; there are a handful of superb songs here, such as "Transmetropolitan," "Streams of Whiskey," and "Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go," but some of the others suggest MacGowan was still learning how to fit all his ideas into his songs. Red Roses for Me is good and rowdy fun, but on Rum Sodomy & the Lash and If I Should Fall from Grace with God, the Pogues would prove they were capable of a lot more than that.

The Pogues - Red Roses For Me (flac  402mb)

01 Transmetropolitan 4:26
02 The Battle Of Brisbane 1:51
03 The Auld Triangle 4:22
04 Waxie's Dargle 1:53
05 Boys From The County Hell 2:56
06 Sea Shanty 2:24
07 Dark Streets Of London 3:17
08 Streams Of Whiskey 2:32
09 Poor Paddy 3:09
10 Dingle Regetta 2:52
11 Greenland Whale Fisheries 2:36
12 Down In The Ground Where The Dead Men Go 3:32
13 Kitty 4:55
Bonus Tracks
14 The Leaving Of Liverpool 3:12
15 Muirshin Durkin 1:50
16 Repeal Of The Licensing Laws 2:12
17 And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda 4:50
18 Whiskey You're The Devil 2:09
19 The Wild Rover 2:36

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"I saw my task... was to capture them in their delapidated glory before some more professional producer f--ked them up," Elvis Costello wrote of his role behind the controls for the Pogues' second album, Rum Sodomy & the Lash. One spin of the album proves that Costello accomplished his mission; this album captures all the sweat, fire, and angry joy that was lost in the thin, disembodied recording of the band's debut, and the Pogues sound stronger and tighter without losing a bit of their edge in the process. Rum Sodomy & the Lash also found Shane MacGowan growing steadily as a songwriter; while the debut had its moments, the blazing and bitter roar of the opening track, "The Sick Bed of Cúchulainn," made it clear MacGowan had fused the intelligent anger of punk and the sly storytelling of Irish folk as no one had before, and the rent boys' serenade of "The Old Main Drag" and the dazzling, drunken character sketch of "A Pair of Brown Eyes" proved there were plenty of directions where he could take his gifts. And like any good folk group, the Pogues also had a great ear for other people's songs. Bassist Cait O'Riordan's haunting performance of "I'm a Man You Don't Meet Every Day" is simply superb (it must have especially impressed Costello, who would later marry her), and while Shane MacGowan may not have written "Dirty Old Town" or "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda," his wrought, emotionally compelling vocals made them his from then on. Rum Sodomy & the Lash falls just a bit short of being the Pogues' best album, but was the first one to prove that they were a great band, and not just a great idea for a band.

The Pogues - Rum Sodomy and The Lash (flac 429mb)

01 The Sickbed Of Cuchalainn 3:02
02 The Old Main Drag 3:19
03 Wild Cats Of Kilkenny 2:48
04 I'm A Man You Don't Meet Every Day 2:54
05 A Pair Of Brown Eyes 5:02
06 Sally MacLennane 2:45
07 Dirty Old Town 3:46
08 Jesse James 2:58
09 Navigator 4:13
10 Billy's Bones 2:03
11 The Gentleman Soldier 2:04
12 The Band Played Waltzing Matilda 8:14
Bonus Tracks
13 A Pistol For Paddy Garcia 2:31
14 London Girl 3:05
15 Rainy Night In Soho 5:36
16 Body Of An American 4:49
17 Planxty Noel Hill 3:12
18 The Parting Glass 2:14

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If Rum Sodomy & the Lash captured the Pogues on plastic in all their rough-and-tumble glory, If I Should Fall from Grace with God proved they could learn the rudiments of proper record making and still come up with an album that captured all the sharp edges of their musical personality. Producer Steve Lillywhite imposed a more disciplined approach in the studio than Elvis Costello had, but he had the good sense not to squeeze the life out of the band in the process; as a result, the Pogues sound tighter and more precise than ever, while still summoning up the glorious howling fury that made Rum Sodomy & the Lash so powerful. And Shane MacGowan continued to grow as a songwriter, as his lyrics and melodies captured with brilliant detail his obsession with the finer points of Anglo-Irish culture. "Fairytale of New York," a glorious sweet-and-sour duet with Kirsty MacColl, and "The Broad Majestic Shannon" were subtle in a way many of his previous work was not, "Birmingham Six" found him addressing political issues for the first time (and with all the expected venom), and "Fiesta" and "Turkish Song of the Damned" found him adding (respectively) faux-Spanish and Middle Eastern flavors into the Pogues' heady mix. And if you want to hear the Pogues blaze through some fast ones, "Bottle of Smoke" and the title song find them doing just what they've always done best. Brilliantly mixing passion, street smarts, and musical ambition, If I Should Fall from Grace with God is the best album the Pogues would ever make.

The Pogues - If I Should Fall From Grace With God (flac  448mb)

01 If I Should Fall From Grace With God 2:21
02 Turkish Song Of The Damned 3:27
03 Bottle Of Smoke 2:47
04 Fairytale Of New York 4:36
05 Metropolis 2:50
06 Thousands Are Sailing 5:28
07 Fiesta 4:13
08 Medley (The Recruiting Sergeant/The Rocky Road To Dublin/Galway Races) 4:01
09 Streets Of Sorrow / Birmingham Six 4:39
10 Lullaby Of London 3:31
11 Sit Down By The Fire 2:18
12 The Broad Majestic Shannon 2:52
13 Worms 1:05
Bonus Tracks
14 The Battle March (Medley) 4:10
15 The Irish Rover 4:07
16 Mountain Dew 2:19
17 Shanne Bradley 3:41
18 Sketches Of Spain 2:14
19 South Australia 3:27

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Shane MacGowan's potent appetite for alcohol was evident from the time the Pogues cut their first album, but by the time they got to work on Peace and Love in 1989, it was evident that he'd gone far past the point of enjoying a few pints (or many pints) and had sunk deep into drug and alcohol dependence. The Pogues were always far more than just MacGowan's backing band, but with the group's principal songwriter and lead singer frequently unable to rise to the occasion, the recording of Peace and Love became a trying experience, with the rest of the band often scrambling to take up the slack for their down-for-the-count frontman. Given the circumstances, the Pogues deliver with greater strength than one might expect on Peace and Love; while MacGowan's vocals are often mush-mouthed and his songwriting is markedly beneath his previous standards, Terry Woods contributes two terrific traditional-style numbers ("Young Ned of the Hill" and "Gartloney Rats"), Philip Chevron's "Lorelei" is a superb tale of lost love (he and Darryl Hunt also teamed up for a fine bit of Celtic-calypso fusion on "Blue Heaven"), and Jem Finer brought along a trio of strong originals. Musically, Peace and Love found the band stretching their boundaries, adding accents of film noir jazz on "Gridlock," rockabilly on "Cotton Fields," straight-ahead rock on "USA," and power pop on "Lorelei," though the group's highly recognizable Celtic-trad-on-steroids style is never far beneath the surface. Peace and Love isn't as good as the two Pogues albums that preceded it (which represent the finest work of their career), but it does make clear that MacGowan was hardly the only talented songwriter in the band -- though the fact that the set's most memorable songs were written by others did not bode well for the group's future.

The Pogues - Peace and Love (flac 289mb)

01 Gridlock 3:32
02 White City 2:31
03 Young Ned Of The Hill 2:45
04 Misty Morning, Albert Bridge 3:01
05 Cotton Fields 2:51
06 Blue Heaven 3:36
07 Down All The Days 3:45
08 USA 4:51
09 Lorelei 3:33
10 Gartloney Rats 2:32
11 Boat Train 2:40
12 Tombstone 2:57
13 Night Train To Lorca 3:26
14 London You're A Lady 2:56

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Anonymous said...

Hi Rho - could you please re-up the Pogues? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Also, do you happen to have access to their box set, "Just Look Them Straight In The Eye And Say...Poguemahone"?

Rho said...

Can't help you there Anon