The Pogues

From Academic Kids

The Pogues were a popular Irish folk rock band of the 1980s and 90s. They had a strong following, providing music which remains largely unique to this day.

The Pogues were founded in London in 1982 as Pogue Mahone — "pogue mahone" being the Anglicization of the Irish póg mo thóin, meaning "kiss my arse." The band specialised in Irish folk music often played with the energy of the punk rock scene from which several of the members had their roots.

Their politically-tinged music was reminiscent of The Clash, with whom they played (Joe Strummer produced one of their albums), and utilised traditional Irish instruments such as the tin whistle, banjo mandolin, accordion, and more. In the later incarnations of the band, after the departure of Shane MacGowan, electronic instruments such as the electric guitar would become more prevalent.

Shane MacGowan (vocals), Jim Fearnley (accordion) and Spider Stacy (tin whistle) were the original members of the Pogues, in the days when they busked on the streets of London. During this time they added Jeremy 'Jem' Finer (guitar, banjo), Cait O'Riordan (bass) and Andrew Ranken (drums). The band rapidly developed a reputation, started releasing some indie work, and ended up opening for The Clash on tour in 1984. Shortening their name to "The Pogues" due to lack of radio play for the curse in their name, they released their first album Red Roses for Me in 1985.

Phil Chevron (guitar) joined the group soon after, then with the aid of punk and new wave forefather Elvis Costello they recorded the follow up, Rum Sodomy & the Lash, in 1985 (The album title is a reply attributed to Winston Churchill and others in describing the Royal Navy). The album cover featured The Raft of the Medusa, though the faces on the characters in Géricault's painting have been replaced with those of the band members. While the first album had featured a higher percentage of traditional songs, Shane MacGowan came into his own as a songwriter with this disc, offering up remarkable pieces of poetic story-telling, such as "The Sick Bed of Cúchulaínn" and "The Old Main Drag," as well as definitive interpretations of Ewan MacColl's "Dirty Old Town" and Eric Bogle's "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda," the latter of which has become more popular than the original recording.

The band failed to take advantage of the momentum created by the strong artistic and commercial success of their second album. They first refused to record another album (offering up the 4 track EP Poguetry in Motion instead); O'Riordan married Costello and left the band, to be replaced by bassist Darryl Hunt; and they added a multi-instrumentalist in Terry Woods, fomerly of Steeleye Span. Looming over the band at this period (as throughout their entire career) was the increasingly erratic behaviour of their vocalist, principal songwriter and creative visionary, Shane MacGowan.

They managed to get things together to record If I Should Fall from Grace with God in 1988 (with its Christmas hit duet with Kirsty MacColl "Fairytale of New York") and 1989's Peace and Love. The band was at the peak of its commercial success, but MacGowan was spiralling out of control (especially notable during an appearance on the US Saturday Night Live). Their next album Hell's Ditch, produced by The Clash's Joe Strummer, featured Stacy and Finer handling some of the vocal duties. MacGowan and the band parted company in 1991.

With his departure, the band was thrown into a state of flux. Without their singer, vocal duties were for a time handled by Joe Strummer, before Stacy finally took over permanently. Two politely received but disappointing albums followed until 1996 when the Pogues disbanded. Though he came with strings attached, few would argue that without MacGowan, The Pogues were a band lacking a leader and in search of creative direction.

Shane MacGowan remains the sole member of the band in the spotlight, having founded The Popes (AKA Shane MacGowan and The Popes) in 1994. His autobiography, A Drink With Shane MacGowan, co-written with his journalist girlfriend appeared in 2001.

The band, including MacGowan, re-formed for a Christmas tour in 2001 and performed 9 shows in the UK in December 2004. In 2002 Q magazine named The Pogues as one of the "50 Bands To See Before You Die".


External links

fr:The Pogues it:The Pogues nl:The Pogues no:The Pogues


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