The Pogues – The Very Best Of the Pogues

Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory

Let’s start right off by acknowledging the fact that if you already own The Best Of The Pogues, The Rest Of The Best, Essential Pogues, The Ultimate Collection, Dirty Old Town: The Platinum Collection, Just Look Them Straight In The Eye and Say … Pogue Mahone!, and/or an older album that was also named The Very Best Of The Pogues (though with a different track listing), then there may not be a good reason for you to add this album to the stack. Except – EXCEPT – for the CD booklet, which includes notes by Pogue guitarist/vocalist/tin whistle man Spider Stacy. (Along with an unnerving black and white of Pogue frontman Shane MacGowan dressed in clean shirt, long black overcoat, and goofy gas station sunglasses, gesturing towards the door of an establishment advertising “NON STOP PEEP SHOW £1” … which I’m betting none of the aforementioned albums offer. So there.)

But if you’re looking for an introduction to the music of The Pogues – or want to freshen up the collection with some mighty fine remasters – then you have come to the right place, my friend: The Very Best Of The Pogues is just what you need.

The Pogues brought the world a cool blend of punk and Celtic folk music thickly layered with all sorts of things with strings, percussion (both hand and stick-wielding), squeezeboxes of various sizes, horns, keys, and that tin whistle we mentioned earlier. Instrumentally, The Pogues were a band of killer players while MacGowan’s rough-and-raggedy vocals were fueled by a mix of pathos and liquor – never pretty, but always real as hell. (MacGowan’s first tour of duty with the band ran from their formation in 1982 until 1991 when he was booted for simply being too drunk; he returned to the fold in 2001 – having successfully avoided sobriety during the decade he was gone.) All in all, The Pogues managed to make everyone that crossed their musical path wish they were Irish, if not actually believe they were, as long as the music played. Sure, Mumford & Sons are pulling off their own version of that same trick these days – but wind the clock back 20 or 30 years and see what you find. These boys were the originals.

And the name, in case you didn’t know? Maybe that explains things best of all: the band originally formed as Pogue Mahone, which is Gaelic for “Kiss my arse.” That harmless little inside joke didn’t play well with BBC censors – thus the abbreviated version. Keep that little bit of trivia in your pocket and you might win a pint at the pub sometime. Don’t thank me – it’s my job.

Click HERE to read the conclusion of my review

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