Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

POGUES, The

UK/Irish folk-rock band formed in 1982, first called Poguemochone (Gaelic for 'kiss my arse'): vocalist/songwriter Shane MacGowan (b 25 December 1957, London); Philip Chevron (b Philip Ryan, 17 June 1957, Dublin; d 8 October 2013), guitar; James Fearnley (b 10 October 1954, Manchester), accordion; Andrew Ranken (b 13 November 1953, London), drums; Jem Finer (b Jeremy Max Finer, 29 July 1955, Dublin), banjo; Spider Stacey (b Peter Richard Stacey, 14 December 1958, Eastbourne), tin whistle; Cait O'Riordan, bass. MacGowan had been in cult punk band the Nipple Erectors; he and Stacey busked in North London and played a set of Irish rebel songs at Richard Strange's club '82. Pogues' debut single was 'Dark Streets Of London' '84; another early single was a widely praised cover of Eric Bogle's 'The Band Played Waltzing Matilda'. Their Celtic punk-folk was a shot in the arm for the UK folk scene, though their anarchic approach upset traditionalists. Album Red Roses For Me '84 captured ramshackle appeal and revealed MacGowan as a writer of promise with 'Transmetropolitan' and 'Streams Of Whiskey'; Elvis Costello was an early fan, producing their Rum, Sodomy And The Lash '85, perhaps their best, including UK hits 'Dirty Old Town' and 'Sally Maclennane', 'A Pair Of Brown Eyes'.

Costello married bassist O'Riordan, who was replaced by Darryl Hunt (b 4 May 1950, Bournemouth); Terry Woods was a founder member of the influential bands Sweeney's Men and Steeleye Span, and came out of retirement to join the Pogues '86 on mandolin and concertina. Record company problems delayed their third album; they contributed to film soundtracks Sid And Nancy '86 snd Straight To Hell '87, starring in the latter; they remained critical favourites and a major live attraction, had UK top 20 hit early '87 with the Dubliners on the traditional 'Irish Rover'. Kirsty MacColl sang with them '87; her husband Steve Lilywhite produced If I Should Fall From Grace With God released '88; after Peace And Love '89, Hell's Ditch '90 was written mostly by MacGowan and produced by Joe Strummer, who joined the band '91 replacing MacGowan (whose drinking got out of hand) but left before Waiting For Herb '93, which had Stacy on lead vocals. Pogue Mahone '96 was on Mesa. With MacColl they contributed to the AIDS charity album of Cole Porter songs Red, White And Blue '90 ('Miss Otis Regrets'/'Just One Of Those Things'), same year as a Best Of compilation, followed by Best Of The Rest '94.

Shane MacGowan and the Popes released The Snake '94 on ZTT/WEA with the same boisterous spirit of the Pogues; The Crock Of Gold '97 combined his swinging paddy-trad and rock'n'roll, McGowan sober and singing in tune: perhaps his best yet.