Publication: The Record
Date Printed: August 4, 1995; FRIDAY
By: Barbara Jaeger
Extra: Quick Spins Column

Never a poster boy for sobriety, MacGowan was kicked out of the Pogues several years ago for his erratic behavior. So, what does MacGowan do? Wallow in his misery? Drink himself into oblivion?

Well... maybe MacGowan did those things for a while. A couple of new songs on MacGowan's album, "The Snake," bear such titles as "That Woman's Got Me Drinking" and "Nancy Whiskey" and in "Victoria" he rhymes the woman's name with "opium euphoria."

But the collection MacGowan has recorded with his new band, nicely resuscitates his career that, at the point he was booted from the Pogues, seemed as rotten as his teeth.

On "The Snake," MacGowan reprises the Pogues boozy blend of punkish rockers and traditonal reels and jigs. The group includes Paul McGuinness (guitar), Bernie "The Undertaker" France (bass), Danny Pope (drums), Tom McAnimal (banjo), Kieran "Mo" O'Hagan (guitar), and Colm O'Maonlai (whistles). It doesn't play with quite the same flair as the Pogues, but it is more than up to providing MacGowan with a solid instrumental foundation.

The standout tracks include the quick-paced "The Church of the Holy Spook," which finds the 37-year-old singer-songwriter in fine raspy form; "A Mexican Funeral in Paris" that has MacGowan growling amid swinging rhythms and a bright brass section, and "Haunted" an acoustic ballad, which hauntingly pairs MacGowan's voice from hell with Sinead O'Connor's, which reaches for the heavens.

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