Pogue Mahone

Publication: Mesa/Bluemoon Press Release (Mesa 92684)
By: Mesa/Bluemoon
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.

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 "Pont Mirabeau."

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 and Bob 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 vocalist.

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 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.

"Pont Mirabeau" 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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