Publication: The Santa Fe New Mexian 
Date Published: Friday, July 7, 1995
By: Steve Terrell
Section: Reviews, Pg. 39

In a recent issue of Spin magazine, country-rock reprobate Steve Earle was quoted saying that when the world ended only he, Keith Richards and the cockroaches would remain.

What a good year for the roaches.

First Earle himself makes his first album of new material in five years. And now there are strong albums by self-destructive hero Shane MacGowan and the lord of all rock 'n' roll cockroaches, Jerry Lee Lewis. 

I'd hate to be the liver of either of these guys, but both artists still have the proverbial fire in their respective bellies.

Everyone who loved The Pogues should get a bellyfull of The Snake by Shane MacGowan and The Popes.

One of the few bright spots of music in the bleak 1980s was The Pogues. Led by MacGowan, who looked like a poster boy for gum disease, the band played a wild blend of traditional folk and punk rock. Their albums Rum, Sodomy and the Lash (sadly available on CD only as an overpriced import) and If I Should Fall From the Grace of God show The Pogues at their best.

However by the end of the '80s, The Pogues' power had diminished. MacGowan began stepping back giving the spotlight to other members and the result was weaker albums. Then he quit and The Pogues actually had the nerve to do an album without him -- the equivalent of The Sex Pistols without Johnny Rotten.

Forget the shameless, Shane-less Pogues. The Snake captures the spirit of true Poguery.

MacGowan kicks off the album with a religious benediction of sorts, "The Church of the Holy Spook." Here he confesses his sins and growls, Rock 'n' roll, you crucified me.  As he shouts for the "Holy spook" its hard to tell if it's prayer or blasphemy.

But don't worry. If MacGowan has seen the light, it was probably from a police car.

There are several odes to hard drink here -- A Celtic romp called "Nancy Whiskey," the Diddleyesque "That Woman's Got Me Drinking." The pleasures of drink are well documented in this album, but so are the hangovers, and in some places even the DTs.

His image as a drunk and philanderer is played to the hilt on the hilarious "Donegal Express." I can't print this song's refrain in a family newspaper, but no MacGowan fan should miss it.

Shane sings convincingly of the joys and tribulations of love.  "The Song With No Name" and "Her Father Didn't Like Me Anyway" show that even though he might be a self-proclaimed drunken lout, he is a lout with a heart.

And there are songs of Irish pride. "The Snake With Eyes of Garnet" is a mystical metaphor of solidarity with the rebels of yore. He even dares to be politically incorrect by reviving the old call to arms "The Rising of the Moon" during a time of Northern Ireland peace negotiations.

The one clunker on the album is the duet with Sinead O'Connor, "Haunted." Shane should have called on honorary Poguette Kirsty MacColl for this.

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