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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, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Just Look Them Straight In The Eye And Say... Pogue Mahone!!

Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3
Disc 4
Disc 5

Comments

R.I.P. PHILLP CHEVRON!
GODSPEED BROTHER!
NEVER......n e v e r be to old combat boots!!!
going soon with my bushmills and s**t kickers hey when is a girl to old for combat boots
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.
Ireland forever! Saw the Pogues at Radio City in NYC on St. Paddy's Day. Truly amazing!!!
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.
johnnyzmille r i i i
Ireland is the best country on earth aoife.
Ireland is the best country on earth!
very good
Tickle me pickle and tounge me bung!
I would love to go to Ireland some day. Love thiir beer love their whiskey. I want to get s**t faced with them.
Five fingers one thumb lol I just noticed this
I'll bet their shows were a f**king blast
Great band
rum sodomy and the lash is the pogues best album but Young ned of the hill is their best song
Don't read this because it actually happens . You will be kissed by your love by the nearest Friday. Tomorrow
will be the best day of your life. Now that you started reading this don't stop. Post this on at least 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. If you don't post this you will die in the next 2 days. When your done press f6 then your lovers name will be on the screen in big letters this is so scary because it actually real. Why did you read this ?
slovakgirl
i f'n LOVE this song!!!!! just makes me smile to hear it!!!! and makes me want to sing along, as loud as possible.
If you like them you should try the dropkick murphys they are awesome

If you follow the directions and repost this message 4 times on any song within 10 minuets you will come in contact with good fortune. Go to http://givem e m o n e y f o r n o r e a s o n . w e e b l y . c o m / , click anywhere and type (signal 5) then go Wikipedia and click random article and your good fortune will be in relation to that article. ****IMPORTAN T * * * * FOLLOW the directions with COMPLETE precision, visiting the websites in the correct order. //got a wiki about penguins :p, wonder what that translates to
Great band
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.
oliver7338
Truly astonishing lyrics. No derivative band will ever top the Pogues.
oliver7338
Peace & Love for me.
Greatest band in the world!
webersf
so much soul !
yeah they are
rogers.gaby
are the dubliners an young dubliners differt bands?
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.
@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.
If I Should Fall From Grace With God and Rum, Sodomy and The Lash are my two favorites.
can someone recommend an album? which is their best? I need to own this!
great love them not much more to say
The greatest band ever, as far as I'm concerned!
Lots of good energy. Love their music which is a mixture of cute and absolutely entertaining ! ! ~ Great job Pogues!
Anytime I've seen this band I would come home with my pants soaked up to my knees in beer. And I don't even drink.
carladodson7 1
Can I like it twice? Oh good grief, I love Pandora!
Love The Pogues-right up there with Dylan and L.Cohen. There will never be another group like them. If you ever have the joy of visiting the emerald isle, go to a pub that is playing Pogues. Freakin awesome.
reillyrip19
Tortured poet Shane MacGowan was both their inspiration and their downfall. The Pogues just weren't right without him and the Popes were weak with him. I can't take them seriously without the full, sober, driving monstrosity that was the Pogues in '86. I am thinking about getting New York and Boston tix for their 2011 mini-US-tour , but can I count on satisfaction ? Or is the tour but a sh*t sham of promo for St. Paddy's day mischief?
slapshot1894
These guys are tremendous!
buffalocody4
MacGowan is truly one of the best poets & also singer when he wasen't smashed. It's just a shame he couldn't control all his addictions.
afaunt
Love these guys!
What a revolutionar y band. They led the way for dropkick and flogging molly and so many others.
I know for the rest of my life i will be listening to the Pogues whether it be while i'm pounding beers with the friends or to simply lift my spirit and cheer up after a bad day. From the moment I heard Sickbed of Cuchulainn i knew I was hooked and my whole perception of music was forever changed. Amazing stuff.
colopay
Is anyone else noticing how poetic MacGowans songs are? It is really impressive considering the style. I like to just read the lyrics because they're so well writen
mainline.exp r e s s
The Pogues are the greatest band there is, was, or will be!
This willow character is hilarious... almost every artist messageboard you click on, he is pissing people off by claiming Godsmack is better. The stupid thing is that it actually works, people respond and apparently get really upset and try to ream his digital a**hole and such. God it's funny. Just ignore the jacka** and he'll either go away or try to flood a messageboard for want of attention at which point he can legitimately be banned from posting.
Godsmack is Alternative Metal, you idiot!
If you think Godsmack is "True Punk" you are an idiot
One of the best bands ever. Why do the most clever artists have to run themselves into the ground?
I achieved Nirvana while at a Pogues show in the mid-80's at a small club. It was in Boston and Joe f**king Strummer was playing acoustic guitar with the band, he just sat in like a member of the band. Shane was drunk—as usual—but brilliant. Midway thru the show Joe came up and they ripped off 4 Clash songs. I was never the same after seeing that show.
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