The legendary Pogues institution returns February 27 with
the U.S. release of their new album, Pogue Mahone, on Mesa Records.
Pogue Mahone (the Gaelic phrase for "kiss my ass") is a
crackling, foot-tapping display of musical acumen and let-your-hair-down
bawdiness spread over thirteen consistently firing tracks, with Spider Stacy
once again taking the helm on vocal duties.
| || Publication: Mesa/Bluemoon Press Release
(Mesa 92684) |
The album swings gracefully between the fast and furious - the gutter French
vitriol of "Amadie,"
the boozy story of "Tosspint,"
and the gritty and evocative realism of "Oretown"
and "Four O'Clock In The Morning."
Along the way, the band display their flexibility and subtlety with ballads
like "Anniversary" and
Pogue Mahone takes the band in almost a full circle. The music is
vital - at time splendidly raucus, at others, sensitive and poignant. The
title was the bands original name, a moniker that fully expresses their
attitude bot at their genesis and today.
In the beginning, out of the seething whirpool [sic] of punk which was moving
away from guitar aggression to synthesizer posturing, a group of desperados
- Jem Finer, Spider Stacey, and Shane MacGowan - were drawn together with
a mutual interest in making real music. Armed with a bunch of rebel songs
and a group of friends willing to jam, they got very untogether in various
squats around London's Burton Street. From the nucleus sprang a band, done
up to the nines in Oxfam suits and generally inventing their own way of
doing things, crafting a style through playing infamous dives like the Hope
& Anchor and busking to raise money and practice new material.
"Shane and I thought we would try to get a license to play at Covent
Garden, on the Piazza," says Jem Finer. "We went down for an audition
about 11 o'clock in one morning and the only person in the audience was
this sixty year old Irish bloke, who kept asking us to play 'Carrick Fregus.'
The guy, who gave the licenses, eventually got us in his office and gave
us this really sanctimonious speech saying, 'We have here what we like to
call the 'Covent Garden Seal of Quality.'' I've asked myself and I've asked
people from the shops on the Piazza what they think of you and I'm afraid
to say you just haven't got what it takes.'"
The band began to get a reputation around London, playing regular gigs with
their blitzkrig blend of punk-rock and Irish Traditional under the name
Pogue Mahone. At one gig supporting the infamously messy King Kurt at the
101 Club, they were seen performing amoung what looked like dead rabbit's
remains. The flour and jelly were strewn about after the main act had ravaged
the stage (and the audience). The gig was dynamite, and converts to the
Pogue idiom began to spread the word.
After an extensive bout of gigging, which generated massive support in London,
the shortened their names and put out their debut album, Red Roses For
Me, which received international acclaim. The brilliant Rum, Sodomy,
& The Lash (1985), If I should Fall From Grace With God (1988)
and its follow-up Peace And Love (1989) firmly established the group
as a name to be reckoned with. The Pogues earned the reputation as one of
the world's most entertaining live acts, having supported the likes of U2
Dylan, playing European gigs to 10,000 people a night and gaining infamy
for their legendary St. Patrick's night performances.
During the Hell's Ditch tour of 1991, Shane MacGowan left the group,
but was replaced by long time sparring partner Joe Strummer. Joe had guested
with the Pogues on an Irish talk show and produced 1990's Hell's Ditch
album. Being familiar with all the songs, Joe stepped in as temporary lead
Spider Stacey then moved in as permanent lead vocalist and, re-grouping
for 1993's Waiting for Herb, the Pogues came back with a vengence,
confounding the skeptics with a renewed energy and ferocity evinced by songs
like "Drunken Boat,"
"Haunting" and the
single "Tuesday Morning."
In line with tradition, further changes followed - James Fearnley departed
to be with his family, Terry Woods left to pursue a solo career, and Phil
Chevron became ill shortly before the band returned to the studio. A hard-core
gang of four - Spider Stacey, Jem Finer, Darryl Hunt and Andrew Ranken -
were then joined by James McNally, David Coulter and Jamie Clark.
"When we began working on this album, we were able to get back to playing
songs that were powerful and direct," says Jem. "The change of
line-up really shook things up and was actually good for the group. The
more we played the new material, the more this interesting idea started
to emerge that the music is actually bigger than the individuals...so long
as it's played with the right feel."
The Pogues returned to the studio in October, 1994, rested and refueled,
firing out a demo of ten songs in five days. The first track saw a classic
Pogues reqorking of the Dylan
song, "When the Ship Comes In,"
setting the scene for what would become Pogue Mahone.
The boozy, brawling, myth-making reveries for which the Pogues are legendary
are still very much evident, especially in the uproarious adaptation of
Ronnie Lane's "How Come,"
performed with typical Pogueish aplomb. Complimenting these (in the true
Cletic way) are the more poetic and expressive songs.
was translated by Jem's father from the poem by Apollinaire, and was then
adapted and set to music by Jem. His father had always wanted it to be performed
as a waltz in the style of "Misty
Morning Albert Bridge." The bands darker side appears in "Amadie,"
sung partly in French and based on the famous black Cajun singler Amadie
Adouin, who gained an immense reputation in the southern U.S. for his beautiful
singing voice and exceptional guitar playing. (Adouin's career was cut short
when a group of local rednecks assaulted him, leaving him without the voice
that made him so famous, without his identity.)
Through seven classic albums, countless personnel changes and numerous incidents
that have been passed into rock and roll folklore, The Pogues have become
a dynamic institution. And, like the band itself, the songs on Pogue
Mahone are rich with stories and, as might be expected, attitude.
The Pogues Are:
Spider Stacey - vocals
Jem Finer - banjos, hurdy gurdy, guitar
Darryl Hunt - bass
Andrew Ranken - drums
James McNally - accordion, piano, whistles
Jamie Clark - guitars
David Coulter - mandolin, violins, percussion
Copyright 1996, Mesa/Bluemoon Records
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