"Oft overshadowed by the glories of Rum, Sodomy & Fall From Grace, the Pogues' debut captures the band at their most gritty and raucous. With originals like "Streams Of Whiskey" & "Dark Steets of London", frontman Shane MacGowan not only established himself as a formidable songwriter but a man with a mission: to bring Irish Music kicking & screaming into the 20th Century. As for traditionals, they didn't tip their hat & pay their respects so much as assault--whipping any sense of nostalgia into a pulp to get to the heart of the song.
I'd say their version of "The Auld Triangle" remains definitive, leaving the Clancy Brothers choking in the dust. The same goes for "Kitty". Its beauty offset even more by the reckless abandon that surrounds it.
Lyrically & musically, MacGowan was on the top of his game. And would remain so for 2 more albums. "Boys From Country Hell" remains one of my all time favorites. The same goes for "Down In The Ground". Instrumentals like "Repeal" go to show that the rest of the band were no joke.
To put it into perspective, this just about blew away everything else I was listening to in the 80's. It made my Smiths records cower in fear. They bee-yatch slapped REM. Justly gave the finger to Goth acts like Bauhaus & The Cure while being more death obsessed than either. If they had a showdown with post London Calling Clash, The Pogues would have outdrew them at the time of this release. It was a breath of fresh, foul air.
Far from a novelty act, they had a knack for making old songs sound new & new ones old. Listening to it again some 19 years later, Red Roses still doesn't sound dated. Truely the sound of a bunch of drunken pirates setting their ship on fire. Their pistol blarin' best next to RUM SODOMY & THE LASH. After that, they FELL FROM GRACE & PEACE & LOVE dumped them off into HELL'S DITCH. From which they never recovered."
The Pogues brilliant debut
Pogues Fan | 02/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The debut album by the Pogues sounded like nothing else of its time. This album was the Pogues at their most raw, with such songs as "Transmetropolitan, The Boys From the County Hell, Sea Shanty, The Dark Streets of London, Down In the Ground Where the Dead Man Goes and Streams of Whiskey." However, beneath the sheer raw power of this release was a songwriter of major vision and talent named Shane Patrick Lysaght MacGowan. It was Shane's poetic nature that was the driving force of the Pogues. This album contains seven of MacGowan's best penned tracks, plus the traditional reworkings of "Waxie's Dargle, Poor Paddy, Greenland Whale Fisheries, and Kitty." The Pogues haunting version of Brendan Behan's "The Auld Triangle," to the Jem Finer/traditional track "Dingle Regatta" are all standout tracks on this album. Overall, a sheer brilliant London-Irish album from the best band of the 1980's and Irish rock. The new remastered version contains the traditional reworkings of "The Leaving of Liverpool, Whiskey You're the Devil, Muirshin Durkin, and the Wild Rover" The Spider Stacy penned instrumental "Repeal of the Licensing Laws, to the original single version of "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" round out the bonus tracks."
A brilliant explosion
Laurence Upton | Wilts, UK | 02/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sometimes things seem to connect with a past they don't actually belong to, but perhaps should have. Desiderata might seem to have been the work of a seventeenth century monk, but we now know it to have been written by a lawyer in 1927. The Ploughman's Lunch conjures visions of medieval farmworkers relaxing from their heavy toil over a wholesome refreshment, but was apparently conjured up by the English Country Cheese Council in 1960.
Red Roses For Me, with its organic marriage of Shane MacGowan's brilliant compositions and rowdy performances of traditional Irish drinking songs and rebel balladry, played on predominantly acoustic instruments, seems to embody hundreds of years of Ireland's musical history, but nobody has managed to come up with any recorded precedents.
The former Shane O'Hooligan is the first to acknowledge his debt to such as the poets Brendan Behan and James Clarence Mangan, and musically to the Dubliners. However great they were, however, no Dubliners record could be mistaken for one by the Pogues, unless the Pogues were playing on it.
This astounding debut appeared fully-formed and gloriously unique, preceded only by their single Dark Streets Of London (in a slightly different version to that on the album), its surface shambolics belying a solid musical and lyrical depth and maturity. Red Roses For Me was produced by Stan Brennan, who ran Rocks Off Records in West One, where Shane sometimes served behind the counter. It was his long term mission to get the band off the ground, and he managed to pour the Pogue magic, unspilled and distilled, into the flagon at Wapping's tiny Elephant Studios.
The Anglo Celtic sound of the Pogues, fermented in London's glamorous King's Cross, is a mixture of pub and punk, both Shane and Mancunian Maestro Jimmy Fearnley having been veterans of punk band the Nips (formerly the Nipple Erectors), but played with an exuberance and an excellence that proved impossible to resist, despite the dark rising tide of New Romanticism, except by an old guard who thought the Pogues represented the stereotype of the drunken Irish paddy they were trying to escape. To be fair, it is rumoured that Shane likes a drink.
The album is embellished with six vital bonus tracks. And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda, Eric Bogle's chilling account of Gallipoli, was revisited on Rum, Sodomy And The Lash, but this is the original flipside of their debut single. You may know the song by Eric Bogle or June Tabor, but not like this. Repeal Of The Licensing Laws was the B-side of the (cleaned-up) Boys From The County Hell. The band returned to Elephant in 1985 to record the B-sides Whiskey You're The Devil and Muirshin Durkin, both for the single A Pair Of Brown Eyes, and The Wild Rover and The Leaving Of Liverpool backed up Sally MacLennane. Those last two A-sides are from Rum, Sodomy And The Lash, your next essential Pogues acquisition after this one.
The First and the Best
Zarithar | 03/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first discovered The Pogues back in the mid 80's and once owned this album on cassette. I'm glad to see the extra tracks, particularly The Leaving of Liverpool, which is one of my favorite Irish tunes of all time. If you have even a drop of Irish blood in your veins this album will have you dancing in the streets. Excellent. Can't reccommend this one highly enough. Slainte!"
The Pinnacle of the Pogues
Ian A. Schultz | Los Angeles, CA | 01/14/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When you're listening to this album, it's hard to place your finger on it, but at least for me, this is the height of the Pogues, and in fact it is the hight of the genre of music that they created. I tend not to buy the first album of many bands, because they are usually still trying to find their niche. The Pogues, however, obviously never had this problem, as the album immediately jumps into an amazing track in Transmetropolitan. In ever single track you can hear the undiluted, raw talent that make The Pogues singular and quite revolutionary. All I have to say is that if you've liked anything by The Pogues or any of the bands that followed in their footsteps, you will be doing yourself a favor by buying this album. Really, that's all I have to say about this album, but I'll add a sentence or two about each song, even though I think it'll be hard to put what you hear into words.
Transmetropolitan-Upbeat and lyrically amazing (I'll probably be saying that often). This song gets the album started wonderfully.
The Battle of Brisbane-Another upbeat song, this time an instrumental. Quite well done. I especially like the percussion used. I doubt it's a drum, but I don't know what it is. Spider Stacey does an excellent job on the tin whistle.
The Auld Triangle-This song is haunting. It has taken me a while to appreciate this, but now that I do I have a deep respect for the amount of emotion that Shane pours into this simple arrangement.
Waxie's Dargle-I love this song. It is upbeat and a classic Irish tune, executed impeccibly.
Boys From the County Hell-I've read that The Pogues arranged this song in five or ten minutes. This song sounds like it, in a good way. Everything comes together here. There is nothing superfluous and yet it retains a complexity that is simply stunning. It is sure to be a favorite.
Sea Shanty-An song firmly rooted in folk tradition but with the distinctive punk twist that made The Pogues famous.
Dark Streets of London-A mid-tempo song, with amazing lyrics. I think this song epitomizes what The Pogues are. This also happens to be the first song that they released as a single.
Streams of Whiskey-Once you've heard this song you'd be amazed to hear that it isn't a traditional Irish song. I think that's the best way to describe it. Of couse, it's well executed, but lyrically, it sounds like one the classics, and by now, I believe it is.
Poor Paddy-This one really is a traditional tune. It starts of slow before jumping up to a very fast pace. Hearing Shane shreik, "In eighteen-hundred-forty-two..." is well worth the price of the album alone.
Dingle Regetta-Another instrumental piece that does well to show the competence of all The Pogues. It's a nice, coherent track that does the album justice.
Greenland Whale Fisheries-A traditional ballad that The Pogues perform wonderfully. Being an avid airmchair historian of the age-of-sail period, this is another personal favorite. "Overhaul, overhaul / Let your jib-sheets fall!"
Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go-In interesting intro that rapidly turns into a duet with every bit of attitude that you'd expect from The Pogues.
Kitty-A traditional song that I believe Shane said he grew up with. It is slow paced and again Shane proves that from the beginning he was like superman, he could do it all.
The Leaving of Liverpool-More(acoustic)guitar in this one than in most other Pogues songs. I love this one, especially for the chorus.
Muirshin Durkin-A fast paced traditional song. Perfect for your drive home from work on Friday afternoon, "Goodbye Muirshin Durkin / I'm sick and tired of workin'"
Repeal of the Licensing Laws-I especially like the banjo in this piece. It isn't in the forefront of the track, but if you listen, it's quite good.
And the Band Played Waltzing Maltida-I played this song for an Australian friend of mine, and he said that it was strange to hear an Englishman/Irishman singing an Australian song. However strange it may be, it's certainly a moving piece. Like The Auld Triangle, it is a haunting song that. This has to be another favorite.
Whiskey You're the Devil-I love this song, if not for it's origins in the Napoleonic Wars (the ones where Napoleon was soundly beaten at a little town in Belgium) then for it's the energy that The Pogues put into it.
The Wild Rover-The closing track for this album fits very well. I say it fits because that is the only word that I can think of. It's a sense of closing that the song has. How does it do that, you say? I suppose you'll have to listen to find out."