THE POGUES WAITING FOR HERB
A Pogues album without Shane MacGowan is like St. Patrick's Day without a beer - which may suit many just fine. MacGowan certainly had detractors during his eight-year reign as one of rock's best - but most maddeningly inconsistent - singer/songwriters. And except for the beer, he might still be running the Pogues' circus.
Still, "Waiting for Herb" is a sobering experience for those who have come to expect a Pogues album to be as galvanizing as a shot of whiskey. Without MacGowan, the Pogues sound like a competent, Irish-flavored band covering Clash or Tom Waits material. Michael Brook's production is as clean as a tin whistle, but there's little of the dissolute grittiness that made "If I Should Fall From Grace With God" and "Hell's Ditch" ring true.
Jem Finer has stepped in as the Pogues' primary songwriter, but nearly every member contributes to "Waiting For Herb." The lyrics are mostly standard, sometimes intriguing, pub-fare laments. "Sitting on Top of the World" and "Pachinko" stir up a bit of the old Pogues spirit, but only "Big City" approaches the rollicking fun that marked MacGowan's contributions to the mix.
Pogueologists may consider "Waiting for Herb" essential material, but I don't recommend it.
Your intrepid maintainer is DzM.