BEST OF THE POGUES CAPTURES THE BAND'S ROUGH SPIRIT
The Best of the Pogues
Lord knows what the future holds for the Pogues, who gave the boot to guiding light/songwriter Shane MacGowan shortly before their recent North American tour.
(MacGowan may rejoin the band in the studio, but then again, may not.) In the interim, the band's record companies on either side of the Atlantic have rushed out hit compilations in time for Christmas.
The Best of the Pogues is a British import, and features 14 songs spanning the band's entire career. Essential Pogues is the Canadian counterpart, and features material from the band's last three albums on Island, plus some singles.
The Best of the Pogues will cost you more, but is a far better buy. Diehard fans might quibble with a couple of the selections (Pogues classics like "The Old Main Drag" and "Sick Bed of Cuchallain" are omitted in favor of lesser tunes like "Sally MacLennane" and "Fiesta"), but by and large this is a disc that lives up to its name. It captures the full breadth of MacGowan's songwriting talent and the band's rough and tumble spirit.
All the standards are here - the sad, beautiful, drunken ballads "A Pair of Brown Eyes" and "Fairytale of New York," the foot-stomping "Body Of An American," and the stirring, anthemic "Thousands Are Sailing" and "Dirty Old Town." In addition, you get the British single "The Irish Rover" (a collaboration with traditional Irish band the Dubliners) and the early classic "Streams of Whiskey."
Essential Pogues draws from the post-Stiff Records/Elvis Costello
period. There are some great tunes that failed to make the cut on the British
album ("The Sunny Side of the Street;" "If I Should Fall From Grace With
God;" "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah;" and Spider Stacy's hilarious stab
at "Honky Tonk Woman"), but overall this feels like a slap-dash affair
that was put together to make a few bucks at Christmas. If you're looking
for a Pogues hits collection, fork out the extra bucks for the Brit import.
Your intrepid maintainer is DzM.