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Pogue Mahone

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Album Review

Pogue Mahone (Gaelic for "kiss my a**e") is the seventh and final studio album from lauded progressive Irish folk pioneers the Pogues. After the departure of Shane MacGowan, co-founder Spider Stacy found himself at the helm, singing and sharing songwriting duties with the rest of the group. If their post-MacGowan debut, Waiting for Herb, was a respectable attempt at recapturing the shape-shifting, genre-splitting days of classic tracks like "Fiesta," "Lorelei," and "Night Train to Lorca," Pogue Mahone is a celebration of the band's inception. Panned by critics and fans who refused to take a "Shane-less" Pogues seriously, both records are a testament to the band's enormous vault of talent. Stacy, who spent most of his career in MacGowan's shadow, rose to the occasion on Herb, offering up what must have been years of oppressed material, most of it remarkable. This time around it's the rest of the group that gets a shot at emptying their catalogs. In fact, Mahone is actually multi-instrumentalist Jem Finer and drummer Andrew Ranken's baby. For the most part they succeed in re-installing the traditional spark that made the group so electrifying in the '80s. Pub rockers like Finer's "Bright Lights" and Ranken's French rave-up "Amadie," while suffering from murky production, are rousing, raucous, and delightful, making one wonder what the public's reaction would have been had Pogue Mahone been a debut from a band nobody had ever heard of. [In 2005, WEA International reissued a re-mastered and expanded version of Pogue Mahone with the the bonus tracks "'Eyes Of An Angel" and a previously unreleased mix of "Love You Till The End."]


Formed: 1982 in Kings Cross, London, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

By demonstrating that the spirit of punk could live in traditional Irish folk music, the Pogues were one of the most radical bands of the mid-'80s. Led by Shane MacGowan, whose slurred, incomprehensible voice often disguised the sheer poetry of his songs, the Pogues were undeniably political -- not only were many of their songs explicitly in favor of working-class liberalism, but the wild, careening sound of their punk-injected folk was implicitly radical. While the band was clearly radical, they...
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