Friday, May 25, 2007

"Poguetry in Motion" Plus Ultra Salutes The Pogues!

"The British press have been giving me six months to live for the past twenty years - they must be getting pissed off interviewing me by now." -Shane MacGowan

Last night, I went on a vision quest. At the peak of my mystical experience I had a deep revelation into the meaning of life. Fearing I would loose the vision I wisely wrote down everything the universe had told me. This morning when I came to, I immediately examined what I had written, to my surprise all that the note said was; "The Pogues Rule!”

Now I know that a lot of people look to Plus Ultra to set a high moral example when it comes to clean living and The Pogues are the embodiment of debauchery. However as a change of pace, Plus Ultra, Wikipedia, and Youtube have teamed up to pay tribute to one of the drunkest, coolest bands of all time, Ladies and Gentlemen...The Pogues!

"The Pogues are a band of mixed Irish and English background, playing traditional Irish folk with influences from the English punk movement. They reached international prominence in the 1980s and 1990s before breaking up in 1996. The band began performing together again in 2001, though they have yet to record new music. They merged traditional Irish music with the energy of contemporary punk, essentially inventing Celtic Punk. They were also highly influential on the larger Celtic Fusion scene. Frontman Shane MacGowan described their style as "playing Irish music to a young rock audience". The music press at the time dubbed their syle as "Punk Céilidh" due to the energy of the frontman and the prevalence of pogo dancing at their earlier gigs.

The Pogues were founded in King's Cross, a district of North London, in 1982 as Pogue Mahone—"pogue mahone" being the Anglicisation of the Irish póg mo thóin, meaning "kiss my arse". The band specialised in Irish folk music, often playing 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 even joined the group briefly), and used traditional Irish instruments such as the tin whistle, banjo, cittern, mandolin, accordion, and more. In the later incarnations of the band, after the departure of Shane MacGowan, rock instruments such as the electric guitar would become more prominent. The first of The Pogues' albums, Red Roses for Me, borrows much from the punk tradition of MacGowan's previous band The Nipple Erectors (later dubbed The Nips).

Shane MacGowan (vocals), James 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. They were originally formed when Shane MacGowan, influenced by the Hounslow band JEEP's version of the "Wild Rover" when he saw them at the "Anglers Retreat"—a pub in West Drayton—and in the presence of Spider Stacy, began to play a breakneck version of an Irish ballad, at around twice the speed of the original. Stacy believed this to be a wonderful idea—although he has since admitted that he suspects MacGowan came up with it on the spot—and the band began.

Before the rest of the group formed, MacGowan and Stacy were rumored to have played impromptu performances on street corners and city buses which attracted local interest to their talent. They later added Jeremy "Jem" Finer (guitar, banjo), Cait O'Riordan (bass) and Andrew Ranken (drums). The band rapidly developed a reputation, started releasing independent 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 that October.

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 and the Lash, in 1985 (the album title is a famous comment attributed, probably falsely, to Winston Churchill and others in describing the traditions of the British 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. The album shows the band moving away from covers to original material. Shane MacGowan came into his own as a songwriter with this disc, offering up poetic story-telling, such as "The Sick Bed of Cúchulainn" 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 four-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, formerly 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. Their record label, Stiff Records, went bankrupt soon after the 1987 release of the single "The Irish Rover" (with the Dubliners).

The band remained stable enough to record If I Should Fall from Grace with God in 1988 (with its Christmas hit duet with Kirsty MacColl "Fairytale of New York", which has recently been voted the best Christmas song ever in VH1 UK polls) and 1989's Peace and Love. The band was at the peak of its commercial success, with both albums making the top 5 in the UK (numbers 3 and 5 respectively), but MacGowan was spiralling out of control. Following their next album, Hell's Ditch, 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 albums followed, the first of which, Waiting for Herb, contained the band's third and final top twenty single, "Tuesday Morning" which became their best-selling single internationally. In 1996, The Pogues disbanded with just three original members remaining.

Red Roses for Me 1984: #89 UK
Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash 1985: #13 UK
Poguetry in Motion (EP) 1986: #29 UK
If I Should Fall from Grace with God 1988: #3 UK, #88 US
Peace and Love 1989: #5 UK
Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah (EP) 1990: #43 UK
Hell's Ditch 1990 #12 UK
Waiting for Herb 1993: #20 UK
Pogue Mahone 1996
The Best of The Pogues 1991: #11 UK
The Rest of The Best 1992
The Very Best Of The Pogues 2001: #18 UK
Streams of Whiskey: Live in Leysin, Switzerland 1991 2002
The Ultimate Collection including Live at the Brixton Academy 2001 2005: #15 UK
Dirty Old Town: The Platinum Collection (Budget CD) 2005
Untitled Pogues Box Set 2007-2008
Messages From Time Gone By (Set for release 2007)"
-From Wikipedia

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