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Pogues Profile - A Brief Biography of the Pogues


Pogues Profile - A Brief Biography of the Pogues

The Pogues

Island Records


1982 - London, England

Creating the Celtic Punk Sound:

The Pogues began in the early '80s when vocalist Shane MacGowan, who was in the Nips at the time, began recruiting friends to explore a new type of music - traditional Irish music, mixed with elements of punk. Pairing traditional instruments like the tin whistle and mandolin with electric guitar, they helped reintroduce traditional Irish music and storytelling lyrics to a new generation of fans.

Often political in nature, the band was heavily influenced by political punk bands of the time (most notably the Clash) as well as by the traditional protest singers of Ireland.

The Early Days of the Pogues:

With the original lineup of the band, the Pogues (under the name Pogue Mahone, Gaelic for "kiss my ass") played London pubs for a few years, finally gaining attention (and a recording contract) after they toured opening for the Clash in 1984.

Shortening their name to "The Pogues" due to protest from Gaelic speakers, the band released their first studio album, Red Roses for Me in 1984, a followed it up with 1985's Rum, Sodomy and the Lash. This is when things began to go south for the band.

The Success and Breakup of the Pogues:

Despite the band's rising commercial success (with If I Should Fall from Grace with God in 1987, Peace and Love in 1989 and Hell's Ditch in 1990), internal problems were forming between Shane MacGowan and the rest of the band. He was becoming unreliable, and even failed to show up for part of a U.S. tour, leading the band to let him go. For a brief period afterward, Joe Strummer (the Clash) assumed singing responsibilities before Spider Stacy, the band's tin whistler took over.

Without MacGowan, the band released two more albums, but when there last album, Pogue Mahone failed, the band called it quits in 1996.

After the Pogues:

Following the breakup of the Pogues, many members went on to other bands. Most notable was MacGowan's new project, Shane MacGowan and the Popes. Unfortunatey, his unreliability continued, and he was known to fail to show up for performances.


The band, with MacGowan, reunited for a short tour in 2001. In 2004, they reunited again, and have been touring yearly ever since, although they have not recorded any new material.

Kirsty MacColl:

Arguably the band's most famous song is their Christmas punk tune, "Fairytale of New York," a duet featuring MacGowen and English singer-songwriter Kirsty MacColl. She was a popular songwriter in her own right with six studio albums to her credit.

In 2000, while on a vacation in Mexico, MacColl was struck and killed by a speedboat. In response to inconsistencies and eyewitness accounts, as well as an intention for a full review of the case, her family founded the Justice for Kirsty Campaign. In 2005, the Pogues rereleased "Fairytale," with half of the proceeds going to the campaign. The case is still unresolved.

Current Lineup:

Shane MacGowan: vocals, guitar, banjo
Spider Stacy: vocals, tin whistle
Phil Chevron: guitar
James Fearnley: accordion, mandolin, piano, guitar
Terry Woods: mandolin, guitar
Jem Finer: banjo, mandola, saxophone, hurdy-gurdy, guitar
Darryl Hunt: bass
Andrew Ranken: drums, percussion

Stdio Albums:

With MacGowan:

Red Roses for Me - 1984 (Compare Prices)
Rum Sodomy & the Lash - 1985 (Compare Prices)
If I Should Fall from Grace with God - 1987 (Compare Prices)
Peace and Love - 1989 (Compare Prices)
Hell's Ditch - 1990 (Compare Prices)

Without MacGowan:

Waiting for Herb - 1993 (Compare Prices)
Pogue Mahone - 1996 (Compare Prices)

Essential Album:

If I Should Fall From Grace With God

The band's 1987 release was their most commercially successful, and with good reason. Whereas the band's earlier releases focused most exclusively on their Irish/punk sound, Grace explored their sound further, adding elements of jazz and world music as well.

There are plenty of elements of the band's traditional sound as well, as evidenced on tracks like "Bottle of Smoke" and the traditional sea shanty "South Australia." The record is also known for two of the band's best ballads, "Thousands are Sailing" and the Pogues' Christmas punk classic "Fairytale of New York." (Compare Prices)

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