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The Pogues

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 a**" -- 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.

~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: The Ultimate Collection

Disc 1

1. Rainy Night In Soho

2. Sally MacLennane

3. The Irish Rover

4. Dirty Old Town

5. Fairytale Of New York (feat. Kirsty MacColl)

6. Streams Of Whiskey

7. If I Should Fall From Grace With God

8. Fiesta

9. Body Of An American

10. Misty Morning, Albert Bridge

11. Repeal Of The Licensing Laws

12. Boys From The County Hell

13. The Sunnyside Of The Street

14. A Pair Of Brown Eyes

15. Summer In Siam

16. The Sickbed Of Cuchulainn

17. London Girl

18. Tuesday Morning

19. White City

20. Hell's Ditch

21. Young Ned Of The Hill

22. Thousands Are Sailing

Disc 2

1. Streams of Whiskey (Live)

2. If I Should Fall from Grace With God (Live)

3. Boys from the County Hell (Live)

5. Young Ned of the Hill (Live)

9. Rain Street (Live)

13. Thousands Are Sailing (Live)

14. Body of an American (Live)

15. Sally MacLennane (Live)

17. Dirty Old Town (Live)

19. Sickbed of Cuchulainn (Live)

21. Fiesta (Live)

x

Track List: Streams Of Whiskey (Live)

1. Streams of Whiskey (Live)

2. If I Should Fall From Grace - With God (Live)

3. Boys From The County Hell (Live)

4. Young Ned Of The Hill (Live)

5. Rain Street (Live)

6. Sayonara (Live)

7. Battle Of Brisbane (Live)

8. The Body Of An American (Live)

9. Summer In Siam (Live)

10. Thousands Are Sailing (Live)

11. Sunnyside Of The Street (Live)

12. Dirty Old Town (Live)

13. The Sickbed Of Cuchulainn (Live)

14. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah (Live)

15. Fiesta (Live)

16. Sally MacLennane (Live)

x

Track List: The Very Best Of...

1. Dirty Old Town

2. Irish Rover (feat. The Dubliners)

3. Sally MacLennane

4. Fiesta

5. A Pair Of Brown Eyes

6. Fairytale Of New York (feat. Kirsty MacColl)

7. The Body Of An American

8. Streams Of Whiskey

9. The Sick Bed Of Cuchulainn

10. If I Should Fall From Grace With God

11. Misty Morning, Albert Bridge

12. Rain Street

13. White City

14. A Rainy Night In Soho

15. London Girl

16. Boys From The County Hell

18. Summer In Siam

19. Hell's Ditch

20. The Old Main Drag

21. The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

x

Track List: Pogue Mahone

1. How Come

2. Living In A World Without Her

3. When The Ship Comes In

4. Anniversary

5. Amadie

6. Love You 'till The End

7. Bright Lights

8. Oretown

9. Pont Mirabeau

10. Tosspint

11. Four O'Clock In The Morning

12. Where That Love's Been Gone

13. The Sun And The Moon

x

Track List: The Rest Of The Best

1. If I Should Fall From Grace With God

2. The Sick Bed Of Cuchulainn

3. The Old Main Drag

4. Boys From The County Hell

5. Young Ned Of The Hill

6. Dark Streets Of London

7. The Auld Triangle

8. Repeal Of The Licensing Laws

9. Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah

10. London Girl

11. Honky Tonk Women

12. Summer In Siam

13. Turkish Song Of The Damned

14. Lullaby Of London

15. The Sunnyside Of The Street

16. Hell's Ditch

x

Track List: Waiting For Herb

1. Tuesday Morning

2. Smell Of Petroleum

3. Haunting

4. Once Upon A Time

5. Sitting On Top Of The World

6. Drunken Boat

7. Big City

8. Girl From The Wadi Hammamat

9. Modern World

10. Pachinko

11. My Baby's Gone

12. Small Hours

13. First Day Of Forever

14. Train Kept Rolling

15. Paris St. Germaine

x

Track List: Peace & Love (Remastered)

1. Gridlock

2. White City

3. Young Ned Of The Hill

4. Misty Morning, Albert Bridge

5. Cotton Fields

6. Blue Heaven

7. Down All The Days

8. USA

9. Lorelei

10. Gartloney Rats

11. Boat Train

12. Tombstone

13. Night Train To Lorca

14. London You're A Lady

15. Star Of The County Down (Bonus Track)

16. The Limerick Rake (Bonus Track)

17. Train Of Love (Bonus Track)

18. Everyman Is A King (Bonus Track)

19. Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah (Bonus Track)

20. Honky Tonk Women (Bonus Track)

x

Track List: If I Should Fall From Grace With God

1. If I Should Fall From Grace With God

2. Turkish Song Of The Damned

3. Bottle Of Smoke

4. Fairytale Of New York

5. Metropolis

6. Thousands Are Sailing

7. Fiesta

8. Medley: The Recruiting Sergeant/The Rocky Road To Dublin/Galway Races

9. Streets Of Sorrow / Birmingham Six

10. Lullaby Of London

11. Sit Down By The Fire

12. The Broad Majestic Shannon

13. Worms

14. The Battle March Medley

15. The Irish Rover

x

Track List: Rum, Sodomy & The Lash

1. The Sick Bed Of Cuchulainn

2. The Old Main Drag

3. Wild Cats Of Kilkenny

4. I'm A Man You Don't Meet Every Day

5. A Pair Of Brown Eyes

6. Sally MacLennane

7. A Pistol For Paddy Garcia

8. Dirty Old Town

9. Jesse James

10. Navigator

11. Billy's Bones

12. The Gentleman Soldier

13. The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

x

Track List: Red Roses For Me

1. Transmetropolitan

2. The Battle Of Brisbane

3. The Auld Triangle

4. Waxie's Dargle

5. Boys From The County Hell

6. Sea Shanty

7. Dark Streets Of London

9. Poor Paddy

10. Dingle Regatta

11. Greenland Whale Fisheries

13. Kitty

x

Track List: Red Roses For Me (Expanded Edition)

1. Transmetropolitan

2. The Battle Of Brisbane

4. Waxie's Dargle

6. Sea Shanty

9. Poor Paddy

10. Dingle Regatta

11. Greenland Whale Fisheries

13. Kitty

16. Repeal Of The Licensing Laws

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Love this song
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skittlekid84
Dam great song just found it.
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Any which way whisky is flowing
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A great cover of Ewan MacColl's 'Dirty Old Town' (with a few additions); in fact, maybe even the best version. I miss The Pogues at their live, drunken best.
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I first came across the Pogue at my first year leaving home 1986. I saw them in old kentish town awesome.
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Whack FALL THE DADDY'O!!!"
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Let them go BOYZ
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Drunk enuf to hear this one. Whack Falk MY DADDY'O. WHICH NO ONE CARES BUTT ME.
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Cut off mi tongue. N burn mi it in the FIRE PITT
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Just give me ten pounds? Ten liters. Ten ounces?
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SLAINTE!!!
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b_kittee
Love them!
Report as inappropriate
Can you hear the fiddle...out across Beath Bay? Yes we can.
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bob179458
Shut up, stupid people; press F13 to kick yourselves in the head.
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mlr6165
f6
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Send the drunk hard core Irish Over. M F#*#K U Sll
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Imm going um fn going right now
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This song is the shiznit up the RA
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I drove to New York City to see The Pogues on a St. Patty's day weekend. Mr. MacGowan decided to trip over a stage monitor in Boston the night before and hurt his leg bad enough to cancel the NYC show. Very disappointin g .
Report as inappropriate
"Waxies dargle" is a raucous drinking tune. You want to know what it means when people call the Irish "White N**gers,"? This song says it all.
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Esp. Poignant during the holiday season. Happy Christmas!
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Christopher is the rake of fhell. But feeling like one
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bruce0033
how about some Barleyjuice?
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zolbere
Sweet songs ������������
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R.I.P. PHILLP CHEVRON!
GODSPEED BROTHER!
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NEVER......n e v e r be to old combat boots!!!
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going soon with my bushmills and s**t kickers hey when is a girl to old for combat boots
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Saw them as an opening act for U2 at Madison Square Garden. It was a show as memorable for MacGowan killing a fifth of Irish whiskey was for their performance. A great band.
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edtheox
Ireland forever! Saw the Pogues at Radio City in NYC on St. Paddy's Day. Truly amazing!!!
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Ireland is truly good craic, north, south, east, and west. One trip is all I got so far. Connemara! Dingle! Derry! Dublin! Sligo! All wondrous.
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Ireland is the best country on earth aoife.
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Ireland is the best country on earth!
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very good
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Tickle me pickle and tounge me bung!
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I would love to go to Ireland some day. Love thiir beer love their whiskey. I want to get s**t faced with them.
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Five fingers one thumb lol I just noticed this
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I'll bet their shows were a f**king blast
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Great band
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rum sodomy and the lash is the pogues best album but Young ned of the hill is their best song
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If you like them you should try the dropkick murphys they are awesome
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Great band
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I've been to Ireland, and everytime i go into a pub, i hear this song and all the Irishmen sing this song. It's crazy. Go to Ireland and you'll see.
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oliver7338
Truly astonishing lyrics. No derivative band will ever top the Pogues.
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oliver7338
Peace & Love for me.
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Greatest band in the world!
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so much soul !
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yeah they are
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rogers.gaby
are the dubliners an young dubliners differt bands?
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I agree with TomT2365, they are all excellent, but Rum Sodomy and the Lash and If I Should Fall From Grace of God are the best. Check out The Dubliners to go deeper in the same vein. Check out Christy Moore for same kind of lyrics with slower tempo.
Report as inappropriate
@Jane544 --- If you are looking for an album, i found Hell's Ditch pretty much encompasses all the best. Definitely would fall into my top 10 favorite albums.

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