Fire Note Says: Shout! Factory reminds us of why The Pogues were important.
Album Review: Both modern folk and Celtic punk have had an upswing in popularity over the last several years so a new Best Of reissue covering the beloved Irish-English punk band The Pogues seems appropriate and relevant. I only say this because in a time when Mumford & Sons has had one of the biggest selling records in 2012 (and it was just OK) I believe that those audiences could use a little bit of a lesson by taking a trip back to the 80’s when it wasn’t quite as hip to be seen doing a jig.
Now what may surprise some new listeners here is that they probably have already heard a Pogues track and did not know it as “If I Should Fall From Grace With God” was used in a recent Subaru ad that was all over the networks and the duet “Fairytale of New York”, featuring Kirsty MacColl, is always cited as one of the best Christmas songs ever written and a typical December standard. Of course The Pogues have been in plenty of TV spots but even if someone has never heard one sassy line from lead singer Shane MacGowan this band can easily become a new favorite with one listen to this compilation. It also is always forgotten that Elvis Costello produced their most critically praised record Run Sodomy & The Lash (1985) while Steve Lillywhite ran the boards on If I Should Fall From The Grace Of God (1988) which just gives you a picture of this band’s broad appeal.
The bigger question for longtime fans here is the “essentialness” of this release given that The Pogues have had around seven other types of these “best of” compilation releases over the years and this is the second time The Very Best Of title has been used mirroring a 2001 release. Now they all have a different set of songs minus a few here and there but most stay focused on their strongest material which was The Pogues first three records. Rightfully so and this release does the same thing but also nicely includes “Tuesday Morning” from 1993’s Waiting For Herb and “Love You ‘Til The End” from Pogue Mahone (1996) which were the records MacGowan was not involved with. The inclusion of these tracks makes this a much truer testament to the band along with its remastererd sound puts a bigger much approved spotlight on the songs.
If you are a fan of the latest folk movement then The Pogues should be a band you check out as their early traditional pieces will have great appeal. What you will find in these 18 tracks is a vibrancy that is lacking in some of the music you hear today and honestly there will not be many other bands like The Pogues so this compilation is not only a good history lesson but something that should be in your collection!
Key Tracks: “Fairytale Of New York”, “If I Should Fall From Grace With God”, “A Pair Of Brown Eyes”
Artists With Similar Fire: Flogging Molly / Black 47 / The Clash
The Pogues Website
The Pogues Facebook
Shout! Factory Records
-Reviewed by Christopher Anthony