Album #355: The Pogues – Rum Sodomy & the Lash

  • Released: 1985
  • Origin: London, England
  • Label: Stiff/MCA
  • Best Track:

The Pogues are one of several acts who must get a nice little windfall when this time of year comes around. Why not listen to an album, eh?

Watching the programme on BBC Four on Friday night where the members of the band met at the studio where ‘Fairytale of New York’ was recorded for the first time since 1987 (and it was filmed in 2005 so it’s been almost as long again since), it was pretty moving stuff, especially since plenty was said about Kirsty McColl and her tragic death.

I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a Pogues album properly, so I stuck on their popular second album Rum Sodomy & the Lash from 1985.

It’s always hard to tell with The Pogues which of their songs are originals and which are covers or traditional songs. Of the ones penned by Shane MacGowan, I love ‘A Pair of Brown Eyes’ and ‘Sally MacLennane’.

Perhaps the most powerful track is the cover of Eric Bogle’s ‘And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ though. As the tale of an Australian soldier, traumatised by his war injuries and considering the futility of it all, is recounted, MacGowan truly makes it his own with his slurred, downbeat vocals.

It’s strange how many of their best known songs (like ‘Fairytale of New York’ and ‘Rainy Night in Soho’) don’t feature on The Pogues’ studio albums, but this one is something of an education.

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