Red Roses For Me (Rhino)
Rum, Sodomy & The Lash (Rhino)
If I Should Fall From Grace With God (Rhino)
Peace and Love (Rhino)
Hell’s Ditch (Rhino)
Many immigrants truncate their names when heading out into the world at large, but few are compelled to trim a moniker like Pogue Mahone—roughly translated as “kiss my arse.” Punks in spirit if not practice, the Pogues brilliantly amped up Celtic roots music, yet offered much more than fast tempos in the vitriolic songs of Shane MacGowan, who quickly became the preeminent Irish songwriter of his generation without losing an ounce of his snarl.
It’s partly because MacGowan infamously never lost an ounce of his stout, either, but the fact that he could write (and rewrite) so many classics while nearly writing his own obituary says a lot about his considerable talents. So does the fact that the group was strong off the bat with its 1984 debut Red Roses For Me, which only heightened the achievement of 1985’s galvanizing Rum, Sodomy & The Lash and the group’s subsequent 1988 masterwork If I Should Fall From Grace With God. If Peace and Love and Hell’s Ditch (the latter the only lackluster release from the Pogues’ prime period) showed the price paid by such a breakneck pace and all that hard living, it’s amazing the group made it that far at all.
These belated reissues, sold separately, embellish a mix of albums designed to be played loud, padding out the group’s discography with key rarities and EP tracks like “A Rainy Night in Soho,” “Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah” and a gloriously messy cover of “Honky Tonk Women.” It’s music to be loved, cherished and, after a few too many pints, given a big hug and sloppy, wet kiss.—Josh Klein