The Pogues – Rum, Sodomy and the Lash (MCA 1985, 1998)
Elvis Costello produced this record, one of the highpoints of The Pogues brief career of melding Irish folk music to the energy of punk rock.
“Sick Bed of Cuchulainn” is a blasting jolt of drunken punk and a classic Pogues tale of anarchic mayhem. “A Man You Don’t Meet Everyday” employs the ethereal vocals of Costello’s then wife Cait O’Riordan. It’s an odd choice, considering that the song concerns a male protagonist, holding forth (where else?) in a pub, narrating a song of his career as a criminal and a vagabond. That said, her vocals are stunning and it’s a shame she didn’t make any records of her own.
There are also a couple of purely instrumental tunes that lighten the pace a little bit. Combining traditional Irish instruments with electric rock and roll, these show another side of the band that was often overlooked.
The Pogues were also a political band, demonstrated in this record by their song “Navigator” which describes the plight of the Irish laborers who worked for low wages and often died building bridges and tunnels. The finale of the record is an amazing cover of “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda,” a fine anti-war song. It describes in emotional terms the plight of Australian soldiers fought in Gallopoli during the first world war.
This record along with If I Should Fall From Grace With God were The Pogues finest albums, soon Shane MacGowan’s drunken brawl would hit the breaking point and the band would be no more. But while they lasted, they were a fascinating and unique band.
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