Back On Track With Their English Style of Irish Insolence

Publication: Suburban & Wayne Times
Date Printed: Thursday, March 28, 1996
Section: Arcade
Page: ?
By: Michael Regan, Arcade Editor

"(George) Clinton had a point about music, you know, there was a message there that was quite fundamental. It's all about music being a racially-connecting thing. If you liberate your mind, you can actually go in any direction and not be hung up in the background," Pogues bassist Darryl Hunt says over the phone from London.

With that in mind, it's important to mention that since the departure of Shane McGowan [sic], there is no Irish left in the Pogues, perhaps the most successful band to successfully cross-over traditional Irish music with rock.

"I think we pay respect to everybody's culture," Hunt explains, "Of course, we get a lot of source and a lot of energy and a lot of ideas from Irish music, as we do from many things."

"We fly around and pick things up in our little spaceship, our Mothership, and land back in London," Hunt continues in the Parliament motif.

With an irreverent attitude and growling, powerful voice, MacGowan, who came of age in London in the early heydays of the Sex Pistols and the Clash, was the perfect front-mand for the hard-edged brand of Irish folk music the Pogues embraced. And, as such, many fans considered the Pogues first attempt at life after MacGowan, 1993's Waiting for Herb (Elektra) which featured Joe Strummer on vocals, to be somewhat watered-down in comparison.

[Your intrepid maintainer butts in: Mr. Regan is evidently not very familiar with the Pogues' previous releases. It's true that Joe Strummer stepped in for Shane MacGowan so that the Pogues could complete their 1991 Hell's Ditch tour. Strummer has never, however, officially recorded with the Pogues (except on live cuts on some of the Waiting for Herb singles).]

Asked if he ever thought MacGowan would rejoin the Pogues, Hunt says "not at the moment, maybe there might be something someday... It could happen. But at the moment we are what we are and he is what he is."

And what they are at the moment, with the release of their new album Pogue Mahone featuring tin-whistler Spider Stacey on vocals, is a lot more similar to what they were when MacGowan was belting out the vocals.

Pogue Mahone, which in Gaelic means "kiss my ass," was the original name of the band. However, the name, coupled with such things are the title of their 1985 album Rum, Sodomy and the Lash (the three things Winston Churchill supposedly said the British Navy was famous for) caused the band to be banned from the BBC and British radio and they eventually shortened the name to just the Pogues. The new album brings to mind the sloshingly raw, almost insolent, but beautifully melodic Rum, Sodomy and the Lash. And according to Hunt, it is an attemtp to bring back the energy of and attitude of those early days.

[Your intrepid maintainer butts in again: Another mangled fact. The band dropped the name Pogue Mahone before they recorded and released their debut album, 1984's Red Roses for Me.]

"They were saying on the third album that we were mature, we must have bloody gone rotten by now. If you get mature after each one, well, we're well past the sell-by date on the cheese, you know?" Hunt says. "Hopefully, we'll have 'Parental Guidance' stuck on our albums in America. I've always wanted that."

And with that, the conversation with Hunt automatically turns to politics and what he percieves to be the differences between the UK and the States, namely Britain's "totally liberal approach to sex, alcohol and religion that you don't seem to have."

"We are both handicapped by our past in different ways," he says. "I guess you never get over the fact you have such a funtamental Christian minority, coupled with the alcohol problems during prohibition; residue of these infringements on civil liberty." But, he says, the trade-off is that Americans have a Bill of Rights and a good checks-and-balances system. "Can you imagine in England them impeaching a Prime Minister?"

When the conversation turns back to music, Hunt is quick to point out again how certain style transcend geography.

"If you look at the history of country music, bluegrass and Appalachian music, it comes from the soft of one and three beet [sic] in central European music... In these days they would play it on a jug or hit a box and that sort of became the country beat.

"If you go to Spain in festival time, or Hungary, or Musich in a beer garden, you'll find that beat there."

The Pogues play at the Trocadero in Philidelphia on April 13. Call 1 215 923 ROCK.

Copyright 1996, Suburban & Wayne Times; Wayne, Penn.
All rights reserved

Your intrepid maintainer is DzM.