Tag Archives: The Pogues

The Radiators From Space: Cockles and Mussels: The Very Best Of

When they are remembered in the States, if at all, it is normally for being the breeding ground of future Pogue Phil Chevron. Much more than this, however, is this fact: The Radiators From Space are an all-too often overlooked punk band. Histories omission is our loss, but this collection seeks to right this wrong, if only in a small way.

Formed in Dublin by Phil Chevron, the Radiators From Space have been called the best band to ever come out of Ireland. I’m not too up on the band’s history, nor their early days, save for what I have read: The Radiators were discovered in late 1976/early 1977 by influential London label, Chiswick Records, and their vinyl debut pre-dated such luminaries as the Clash and Elvis Costello. The Radiators were most certainly among Ireland’s first punk bands. ‘Irish’ being the operative word.

Chevron, while acknowledging the bands punk roots, also recognizes the uniquely Irish vision that band had. They weren’t London kids, after all.

Irish teens life-experiences were entirely their own; hence the subject matter wouldn’t be entirely the same, although the attitude was one they could rally behind.

Chevron explains: “While we shared many of the characteristics of the UK punk bands – the energy and the attitudes – we had nothing to say about tower-blocks or anarchy. Our best songs came from our experience of growing up in an Ireland still paralyzed by political and religious hypocrisies but which, we believed, was in its heart youthful and forward-thinking. We were the first Irish band to grapple with these contradictions but first and foremost we were a pop group and we could readily identify with the UK’s ‘No Fun’ slogan.”

Sadly, most of the original albums are now deleted, and fetch collectors’ prices. The first two albums, “TV Tube Heart” and even more so their second, “Ghosttown” are considered influential classics, inspiring everyone from Thin Lizzy (toured with ‘em) to Christy Moore (who does a nice version of “Song of the Faithful Departed.”)

This collection, however, is fairly easily picked-up, and is a wonderful introduction to the band. Chevron is a great guitarist, and his vocals start out with the ’77 sneer so familiar to most, but as the band progresses, his talent expands and the songs become much more than punk rock.

The opening cuts show the band at their fiery best. “Television Screen” shows teenage frustration with a rockabilly cum punk guitar propelling the tune all the way. “I’m gonna stick my Strat-o-caster through the television screen” a young Chevron roars.

As he said above, subject matter was more Irish-oriented, with songs like “Sunday World” showing a typical slice of mundane Irish life, and hints at a growing distance from the Catholic Church to the crazed rev-up “Enemies” to the namesake of the first album, the prison ditty “Prison Bars” (where Chevron does his best Johnny Rotten) to the Boomtown Rat-ish sounding boredom of “Let’s Talk About the Weather.”

As the disc progresses, so do the band. The fast, three-chord-type punk is replaced by angry rock-n-roll. “Johnny Jukebox” has a ‘50’s flair all it’s own and rocks. “Kitty Rickets” has an almost Specials-type feel, an Irish “Ghosttown” if you will. It breaks down Ireland’s legends in one fantastic song.

Then we come to “Song of the Faithful Departed.” It is now considered a true Irish classic, sidestepping any boundaries imposed by genres. With good reason, its modern Irish poetry, giving the more recently exiled a ballad of their own. The ghosts and tales of the Ireland of past and present are twisted and re-imagined in this tune, myths broken down, and spit back out with complete honesty. This one is probably the best on the disc, the best they ever did, and packs quite an emotional wallop for a ‘punk’ band. You can see the seeds of Phil’s later work with the Pogues in this, although it may well be his finest hour.

To attempt to fill up the review with any more drivel would be useless. I don’t know what became of any of the members other than Phil, I don’t know why they disbanded, I only know the legacy they left behind, and know how many bands count them as major influences. If you’re a true student of the punk movement in Ireland, this band is as indispensable as the Undertones and the Stiff Little Fingers, and pre-dated both of them. Pick it up and see what Chevron’s made his reputation on, and why the Shane and the Pogues were so glad to pick him up (“Thousands are Sailing” anyone?)

October 2002

Review by Sean Holland

Jamie Clarke’s Perfect: Nobody is Perfect

The sticker stuck on the front of this baby states proudly, “Feat. Ex-member of The Pogues”, and now while Jamie Clarke did spend five years in our favorite London-Irish punksters, he only ever played on one CD, the last and the worst! So the stickers is just a tad misleading. Though I honestly think he and Perfect can stand up on their own accomplishments as musicians and songwriters and not need to rely on ex-memberships of anybody.

“Nobody is Perfect” is the follow up to last years “Sickly Men of Thirty of So….”, and the first on Germanys SPV Recordings (strangely best know as the home of past sell by date Heavy Metal). “Nobody is Perfect” is a classic mix of different influences all mixed together in a huge a gorgeous Irish Stew of contemporary Folk-Rock.
We have the pure Irish Ceilidh through the Marshall Stacks of opener “Medley”, then the Ballroom of Romance Irish waltz meets The Beatles of “Temptress”. The power rock cover of the Flammin Grooves, “Shake Some Action”. The nod to his ex-employers The Pogues, with an instrumental melody of “Turkish Song of the Dammed” and “Bottle of Smoke” that allows Pergray Zaric to show off his accordion talents. Christy Moore’s (well Jimmy McCarthy’s actually but Christy made it famous), “Ride On” with great leads from guest Hermann Frank is also covered. “Hungarian Dance”, allows Pregray to show off some more but this time his Balkan heritage along with his fine finger picking skills. “How the Mighty Have Fallen”, is the song that if the Gallagher Brothers had written Oasis wouldn’t have gone down the toilet, a perfect Lennon & McCartney Inspired piece of rock.

Nobody is perfect, but Perfect is dam close

October 2002

The Pogues: Rum Sodomy and the Lash

Debauchery and tears. The second effort from the legendary Pogues promises it from the outset. From the cover piss-take on the painting “Le Radueau De La Medusa (The Wake of the Medusa)” to it’s fiery, howling mad content; “Rum, Sodomy and the Lash” delivers in spades. From puking up in Church to fighting the Turks in Gallipoli, from courting Sally MacLennane to riding with Jesse James, it’s all here, wrapped in the familiar wails of the Wildcats of Kilkenny.

Generally lauded by both critics and fans as the Pogues finest hour (no argument from me, except to add that “If I Should Fall From Grace…” is as good) and produced by the master himself, Elvis Costello, “RSATL” is nothing short of a perfect album. I remember finding the vinyl for $3 in a second-hand shop many years ago, and having no idea what awaited me, and if any of you bastards haven’t heard the album, then I envy you, for the first time you listen to it is almost a religious experience.

Shane’s twisted poetry has arguably never been as clear as it is on this record. Every cut a winner. Inspired. Original line-up. (A good companion to this record is the Pogues book “The Lost Decade” which details the history of the band, and also the making of this record.) It just seems the band were at their tip-top, like they never were before, and never quite would be again. Shane vocals would never be as purely emotive as they are here. He’s always the master, but this is him in his prime. The rest of the band follows his lead – From Spider’s speed demon tin whistle to Cait O’Riordan’s bass playing (always had a soft spot for ol’ Rocky) it all just works.

You can tell you’re in for a helluva ride from the outset. “The Sick Bed of Cuchulainn” promises: “there’s devils on each side of you with bottles in their hands/you need one more drop of poison and you’ll dream of foreign lands.” And off we’re whisked. The boy-prostitutes of “The Old Main Drag” sing a woe-begotten tale, which is quickly drowned out by the cries of “The Wildcats of Kilkenny.”

Up until then, things had been a wild, violent, drunken ride. Debauchery. Now come the tears. The old standard “I’m a Man You Don’t Meet Everyday” with a twist – Cait on vocals. Beautifully rendered. Tugs at the old heartstrings this. But then. Oh, but then. Perhaps Shane’s finest moment. Perhaps his purest vocals. “A Pair of Brown Eyes.” Jesus Christ, what a fucking tune. No use trying to describe the tale of war, love, loss, redemption. Just listen to it yourself. I sure as hell can’t do it justice. Modern Irish poetry.

Things pick back up for the crowd favorite “Sally MacLennane” with it’s tale of Jimmy’s exploits round the world but him never forgetting he loved the town where he was born and poor ol’ Sally. “Jimmy drank until he choked and took the road to heaven in the morning.” And what a trip it most assuredly was. The highlights just keep coming: Ewan McColl’s “Dirty Old Town” might as well have been written by Shane because after this recording, he has owned it ever since. “The Gentleman Soldier” is a sentimental favorite, million miles an hour, with punk rock vocals by the one and only Spider Stacy, and then things wrap up with the ultimate anti-war sentiment “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda” and once it ends, just try to swallow the lump in your throat.

To me, it’s simple: The genre of Irish punk owes most everything to this one record. Sure, it wasn’t their first, and certainly not their last grand moment, but for a time, there wasn’t a band on Earth that could touch the Pogues. They could turn it up like the best punk bands only wished they could, and then could choke you up like the best balladeers. From the amount of bands that cover songs from this record, it’s clear – untouchable. Legend. I think it may be the most emotionally charged record I’ve ever had the good fortune to listen to and it’s enduring quality remains even today. So grab a drink and some tissues, put the record on and travel to foreign lands, have a drink and fight the good fight one more time with the first and the best. The Pogues.

April 2002

Review by Sean Holland

The Pogues: Streams of Whiskey (or GWF’s Loboville)

The Pogues have NOTHING to do with this live album! You should have NOTHING to do with this live album! I should have NOTHING to do with this live album! (whoops! Too late for me!) This so-called “Live” album is just a bootleg that somebody put together just in time to compete with Shane’s solo live album. The cover is a Jamison’s Irish Whiskey label with The Pogues written over it. There is also a small photo of Shane on the bottom. Next to that it says “Shane McGowan & Co.” instead of “Shane MacGowan & Co.” Personally, I hate it when that happens! That alone should show you what you’re getting into with this album. A pretty good Bio of the band is in the liner sleeve. (I will get the producers decent credit for that!) It seems like this album is intended for the casual Pogues fan, who is unaware of the quality of the album.

As far as the music on the album itself, the recording is average for a bootleg, but awful for a “Official” Live album. The squeezebox is too loud, and the drums are bouncing off the walls. Shane actually sounds pretty good for his standards. The overall sound is bland and dull. I have bootlegs that sound more crisp and clear than this shit! Track 14) “Yeah,Yeah,Yeah,Yeah,Yeah” sounds better than normal, and is probably the best track on the album.(Hard to believe!) An album from The Pogues Reunion concert in Brixton last December is going to be released later this year. Hold your cash for that, Because this one Sucks!

-OR-

Get your hands on a copy of Greenland Whalefishers “Loboville”! This album deserves much more recognition than it has gotten. Trust me, “Loboville” is worth it! It’s also the first album in Shite’n’Onions history to be reviewed twice! That should tell you something! You might think that because they are from Bergen, Norway, that they can’t be very good. Quite the opposite! Let’s not forget where the folks who founded Dublin are from! Besides a very slight accent, lead singer Arvid Grov sounds better than the man himself, Shane MacGowan does nowadays! In case you’re wondering, this album sounds nothing like alot of those mainland European “Poguesy” albums. Out of the 11 tracks, I really enjoyed “Loboville”, “Johnny Lee Roth”, and “The Thirsty Cave”. But “Hole in Our Hearts” is the greatest track on the record. From the bagpipes to the choir singing, this song did the job for me, and will for you too. Instead of buying the “Streams of Whiskey” live album, buy the Greenland Whalefishers “Loboville” instead! You can even order it through the Shite’n’Onions store.

April 2002

Review boldly written by Brian Gillespie

Perfect: Sickly Men of Thirty or So…

Englishman Jamie Clarke first came to prominence in the 80’s rock group “Innocence Lost”, and had some minor success with that band. After “Innocence Lost” split Jamie was asked to play 5 live shows with the Pogues filling in for the sick Phil Chevron, 5 gigs turned to 5 years. Jamie was also involved in the songwriting (“The Sun And The Moon”) for the last Pogues album “Pogue Mahone”. After the Pogues, Jamie moved to Germany and hooked up with Padja Zaric, the highly regarded Bosnian high-speed accordion player and formed “Perfect”.

“Sickly men of thirty or so…” is the third full length from the band (and the first with drummer Andreas Schabinger) and what a widely diverse album it is, Punk, Folk, Country, Garage and classic British Pop influences from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. For the most part Jamie seems to have moved back to his 80’s roots. The music is acoustic based (but not always) Beatles influenced British pop mixed with a heavy doses of Padja’s accordion that gives “Perfect” it’s very distinctive identity.

“Adorable” is the best song, classic British Pop, a hit single if there was any justice (or taste) left in the world. Pogues fan should check out the cover of “I Fought the Law” the accordion makes it much more Joe Strummer with the Pogues then the Clash. “Sheer Perfection”, “Oh Man”, “Moving Up” and especially “Heart Shaped Sunglasses” (co written with Spider Stacy and James McNally) are all highlights.

October 2001

The Pogues: The Very Best Of

In my humble opinion The Pogues were at least the greatest rock band of the eighties if not one of the greatest band of all time – but if your reading this zine then you already know that (and if you didn’t then fuck off your on the wrong site). The Very Best Of… contains twenty one of their best known tracks each one a classic but each one that you probably already own already. The big question is why was this released (even the former band members were unaware this was coming out)- apart from as another record company rip-off. When is the record company going to wise up, stop trying to rip people off and put out that collection of rare shit we’ve been waiting for.

Track Listing: Dirty Old Town, Irish Rover w/ The Dubliners, Sally MacLennane, Fiesta, A Pair Of Brown Eyes, Fairytale Of New York w/ Kirsty MacColl, The Body Of An American, Streams Of Whiskey, The Sick Bed Of Cuchulainn, If I Should Fall From Grace With God, Misty Morning, Albert Bridge, Rain Street, White City, A Rainy Night In Soho, London Girl, Boys From The County Hell, The Sunny Side Of The Street, Summer In Siam, Hell’s Ditch, The Old Main Drag, And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda.

July 2001

http://www.pogues.com/