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We’ve added a new page of pictures from our recent tour of Ireleand. There’s pictures of us fishing and hanging with Shane and a few more…
Michael Sihksnel wrote a thesis on The Pogues and their influence on Irish music. Here, he considers their reformation.
With The Pogues reuniting for a new studio album and tour; they will demonstrate why they are the most influential Irish rock band in the past 50 years.
Shane MacGowan and company demonstrated why Irish music can always be considered punk rock. The Belfast Limelight, earlier this year, said this about MacGowan:
“In the days before Riverdance and the Celtic Tiger; before the rise of U2, before the peace process. Maggie hadn’t yet come to power and punk was in its prime, ad from the messy and angry entrails of punk came the Irish diaspora’s most eloquent and visceral voice. MacGowan’s song writing transcended punk, transcended tradition, transcended time.”
Originally dubbing themselves “Pogue Mahone” for “Kiss My Ass,” they quickly were renamed the Pogues and released Red Roses for Me. This album can be credited as revolutionizing Irish tradition.
The single “Dark Side of London” expressed a new and vibrant sound that had never been heard before. Although the music was based on traditional Irish songs, there was an edge to it that captivated audiences.
The Pogues defined what punk music really meant. Although they did not have simple three chord melodies, no one disputed their embodiment of the spirit of the music.
This throws into question how the Celtic spirit is related to the spirit of punk rock. MacGowan himself said in a biography aired on Irish broadcaster RTE, “All we do is play good Irish music.”
MacGowan is considered such a legend that he is often brought into work on other Irish punk records. In a recent interview, he said, “Well, I’ve worked with the Dropkick Murphy’s before. But the band I really like is called Lancaster County Prison. They’re really good.”
Lancaster County Prison is a Queens, New York based band reminiscent of early Pogues, and in person MacGowan has sang with them before. They play a fast punk rock sound, but do it with trad instruments along with writing politically charged songs.
Dropkick formed in 1995 in Boston. An example of the much overused but still true phrase, Irish diaspora, the Irish American punks have taken what The Pogues built up to the next level.
Mark Orrell, guitarist for Dropkick, describes the band as a mixture between “the Clancy Brothers and the Ramones.”
On Dropkick’s album Sing Loud, Sing Proud, MacGowan lent a helping hand. That album, in the true Pogues tradition mixed straight up rock and roll, trad, and politics, without making the views seemed forced on you.
Their Republican sentiment is obvious, just like MacGowan’s, but it is not the sole focus of the album.
Flogging Molly is especially rooted in The Pogues rock family. Although lead singer Dave King may try to distance himself from such easy comparisons ¨C “The way our songs go, there’s no way you can here The Pogues or anyone else doing them,” he says ¨C the same trad rock music comes hammering through.
The Dublin native got into the rock circuit in the late 1980′s right near the end of The Pogues’ first rein. It certainly is evident when you listen to Flogging Molly that the Pogues have come through and played a part in their development.
Flogging Molly, much like The Pogues initially, made their reputation off of touring. Both bands were known for their incredible live shows. “We definitely show people that you can blwo the place apart with fiddles and acoustic guitar and mandolin and accordions,” King laughs.
“It doesn’t have to be a four-piece grrr-grrr-grrr. If you’re saying something, and you’re honest with yourself, it’s going to affect other people.”
Even bands not within the Irish tradition have drawn inspiration from The Pogues and Shane MacGowan. Nick Cave of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds fame, work with MacGowan in 1992.
We did a single together. ‘What a Wonderful World’ is a duet, and then the B side I do is a Pogues song, ‘Rainy Night in Soho,’ and he does a Bad Seeds song, ‘Lucy.’ We sing one of each other’s songs. It’s just err brilliant, the single.
With The Pogues back in action, we can only hope that they will inspire a new wave of Irish musicians.
Doing ‘Time’ in County Prison By Mike Farragher LANCASTER County Prison, a band of Irish country punk hellions that make Queens a safer place to rock, have just released a fantastic CD featuring legendary head Pogue and party boy Shane MacGowan. It sports a fascinating name, and guitarist Gerald Donnelly chuckles as he tells the tale of how the title came about. “Every God Damned Time came from our engineer. We were thinking about names for the CD, agonizing over it, coming up with the most dreadful names. There’s this echo machine that we use that blew a fuse on them. In a fit of frustration, he said ‘every god damned time’ this happens. We looked at one another and said ‘That’s it’ and the album name Every God Damned Time was born.” Donnelly and the group would say that phrase repeatedly as they waited for their guest star to show as they waited over three hours for MacGowan to show. “We were thrilled that he came,” says Donnelly of his time in the studio with Shane. “We had given up on him coming after a few hours of waiting around, so we just started to get loaded and watch Father Ted reruns as we drank. Then, in a cloud of smoke, the man shows up, puts on his headphones, and went to work. He came in with this smile and said ‘Sorry I’m late, I’ve been around.’ At the end of the night he put his arm around our shoulders and he said ‘You’ve got a good thing, keep at it.’ It was a great moment.” Donnelly was in awe of Shane, who wrote some of his own lyrics on the spot. “We had the music done during the day and he would just come in and sing over it, like a MacGowan karaoke,” he says with an evil laugh. “He lent some ideas on how the duet should go. I think I was in shock singing into the mike with him. I mean, I was in the mosh pit at the fleadh watching him one moment, and then we’re duetting the next.” Lancaster County Prison has been able to coax some most memorable performances from MacGowan, which are rare finds on records these days. “Satan Is Waiting For Me” is a thrilling joy ride with the brake cables cut, a thrilling vocal trade off that reminds you exactly why we all crowned MacGowan as the king of Irish rock in the first place. Their take on “The Town I Love So Well” is wobbly in spots but has a raggedness to it that works well and should be the soundtrack for closing time in every Irish bar moving forward. The house comes crashing down on an unfortunate reading of the traditional “The Long Black Veil.” Anchored by a ferocious beat by the band, Shane is unable to keep up and has to resort to mumbling forgotten words in spots. “There were some missed words and we were going to fix it with Protools,” acknowledges Donnelly. “But we decided against it. We just left it on because it was authentic. That’s what happened.” I suppose it’s prudent to stop talking about Shane right now, lest you think that Every GD Time and the Lancaster County Prison is just another backing band pet project du jour for the head Pogue. This group stands on its own two feet just fine, thank you very much. Not since The Who has a band approached their instruments with such reckless abandon, with hissing battery acid coating the banjo strings to form corrosive chord changes that slither through snarling punk power chords. “Iron Clad” is one such track, a statement of invincibility that starts off slow and moody before packing a sonic whollop that’s sure to have your fist pumping. “The tide is turned/rise up and shake the chandeliers/raise up your glass and show your pint of beer.” The sick “Ate His Thumb,” a cheeky song inspired by a true story aired on the History Channel about frozen hikers that turned to cannibalism, is a truly gory affair that reminds you of a car crash: you can’t stomach what you see yet you cannot look away. The band is not afraid to pull out all the stops, a trait that the band sees as sorely lacking in many of the Irish bands that work the circuit with them. “These young kids love Motorhead and AC/DC,” says Donnelly. “They just want to go to a show and have their heads blown off. I see these bands and they are so lifeless. No reason not to have a blistering Irish rock group. There are some great Irish rock bands ¨C Usual Suspects, Westtones, Full Throttle, Pharaoh Kings, and of course Seanchai and the Unity Squad are a couple that come to mind.” The duet with MacGowan on Phil Coulter’s “The Town I Loved So Well” has been getting airplay on both sides of the Atlantic. New York’s own WFUV has given it regular spins, and hearing the song on the radio has been a particular thrill for this band. “All my relatives and friends listened to it,” says Donnelly. “It was unbelievable to hear my voice next to Shane’s. It’s still a bit surreal to me. I hear the song play on the jukebox at the Irish Rover in Queens and I still can’t believe it.” The CD will be properly introduced to the public during a record release party at the Irish Rover on July 12, where a certain surprise guest is promising to appear (not naming names). This new CD will be stocked at select HMV stores in Manhattan and on the band’s website (www.lancastercountyprison.com). The disc is sure to take the band out of their Queens comfort, where they enjoy a small but rabid following. That’s what happens when you release a great disc. Happens every GD time.