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The Pogues are a band of mixed Irish and English background, playing traditional Irish music with influences from the punk rock movement, formed in 1982 and fronted by Shane MacGowan. They reached international prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s, until MacGowan left the band in 1991 due to drinking problems. They continued with first Joe Strummer and then Spider Stacy on vocals before breaking up in 1996. The band began performing together again in 2001, though they have yet to record new music. Their politically-tinged music was influenced by The Clash, yet used traditional Irish instruments such as the tin whistle, banjo, cittern, mandolin, accordion, and others. In the later incarnations of the band, after the departure of Shane MacGowan, rock instruments such as the electric guitar would become more prominent. The first of The Pogues' albums, Red Roses for Me, borrows much from the punk tradition of MacGowan's previous band The Nipple Erectors (later dubbed "The Nips"). The Pogues were founded in King's Cross, a district of North London, in 1982 as Pogue Mahone—pogue mahone being the Anglicisation of the Irish póg mo thóin, meaning "kiss my arse". The band specialised in Irish folk music, often playing with the energy of the punk rock scene in which several of the members had their roots.
The roots of The Pogues were formed when MacGowan (vocals), Peter "Spider" Stacy (tin whistle), and Jem Finer (banjo) were together in an occasional band called The Millwall Chainsaws in the late 1970s after MacGowan and Stacy met in the toilets at a Ramones gig at The Roundhouse in 1977. MacGowan was already with The Nips, though when they broke up in 1980 he concentrated a bit more on the still unstructured Millwall Chainsaws, who changed their name to The New Republicans. During this period MacGowan and Finer auditioned unsuccessfully for a license to busk at Covent Garden. In 1982 James Fearnley (accordion) joined MacGowen, Stacy, and Finer, initially calling the band The Men They Couldn't Hang, before settling on Stacy's suggestion of Pogue Mahone. The new group played their first gig at The Pindar Of Wakefield on 4 October 1982.
They later added Cait O'Riordan (bass) and Andrew Ranken (drums). The band played London pubs and clubs, and released a single, "Dark Streets of London", on their own, self-named label, gaining a small reputation - especially for their live performances. They came to the attention of the media and Stiff Records when they opened for The Clash on their 1984 tour. Shortening their name to "The Pogues" (partly due to BBC censorship following complaints from Gaelic speakers in Scotland) they released their first album Red Roses for Me on Stiff that October.
The band gained more attention when the UK Channel 4's influential music show The Tube made a video of their version of "Waxie's Dargle" for the show. The performance - featuring Spider Stacy repeatedly smashing himself over the head with a beer tray (in the manner of Bob Blackman's infamous "Mule Train/Mule Tray") - became a favourite with the viewers, but Stiff refused to release it as a single, feeling it was too late for it to help Red Roses for Me (in fact their record label, Stiff, was by then in deep financial trouble). Nevertheless, it remained a favourite request for the show for many years.
Phil Chevron (guitar) joined the group soon after, then with the aid of punk and new wave forefather Elvis Costello they recorded the follow up, Rum, Sodomy and the Lash, in 1985. The album title is a famous comment falsely attributed to Winston Churchill who was supposedly describing the "true" traditions of the British Royal Navy. The album cover featured The Raft of the Medusa, with the faces of the characters in Théodore Géricault's painting replaced with those of the band members. The album shows the band moving away from covers to original material. Shane MacGowan came into his own as a songwriter with this disc, offering up poetic story-telling, such as "The Sick Bed of Cúchulainn" and "The Old Main Drag", as well as definitive interpretations of Ewan MacColl's "Dirty Old Town" and Eric Bogle's "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" (this had previously been covered by Shane's fellow punk contemporaries The Skids in 1981).
The band failed to take advantage of the momentum created by the strong artistic and commercial success of their second album. They first refused to record another album (offering up the four-track EP Poguetry in Motion instead); O'Riordan married Costello and left the band, to be replaced by bassist Darryl Hunt; and they added a multi-instrumentalist in Terry Woods, formerly of Steeleye Span. Looming over the band at this period (as throughout their entire career) was the increasingly erratic behaviour of their vocalist, principal songwriter and creative visionary, Shane MacGowan. Their record label, Stiff Records, went bankrupt soon after the 1987 release of the single "The Irish Rover" (with the Dubliners).
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Official Homepage: www.pogues.com
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