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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

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Whack FALL THE DADDY'O!!!"
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Let them go BOYZ
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Love if "I should fall...." National anthem of Ireland. Get the n**gers out if Ireland. Keep the Emerald Isle pure, for Irish men and woman alone. The men and women who built it on their backs, by their blood and sweat. It's riches and history and above all its future belong to her people and her people alone!!!
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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!
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chris.beath
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 .
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"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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johnnyzmille r i i i
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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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.
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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.
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@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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If I Should Fall From Grace With God and Rum, Sodomy and The Lash are my two favorites.
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can someone recommend an album? which is their best? I need to own this!
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great love them not much more to say

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