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Issue 56 - Streams of whiskey

Whisky Magazine Issue 56
June 2006


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Streams of whiskey

Few bands have captured the exuberance of drinking whiskey in the way The Pogues have. Lew Guthrie III looks back to their first two albums

When The Pogues burst on to the music scene at the end of the punk era, nobody could make head nor tail of them.

Fronted by a toothy pug-eared drunk and their ranks swollen by a bunch of sweaty boisterous youths who poured The Clash's London all over traditional Irish music, the initial view was that they were a fun novelty act with a shelf life of about 10 minutes.

It would take them some years and several albums before they would be respected for their musical talents, but by the time they recorded If I Should Fall From Grace With God and the now classic Christmas track AFairytale of New York they had moved off in to all sorts of exotic musical directions and that same pug-eared singer Shane MacGowan was being recognised as one of his generation's greatest lyricists.

Back in the early days though, The Pogues were a drinking band in general and a whiskey drinking band in particular and their music was soaked in it.

Sure their second album was called Rum, Sodomy and The Lash, a reference to life in the British navy at the time of Napoleon, but the album's contents were created in the fields of Ireland, finished off in Kilburn, North West London, and fuelled by Irish whiskey.

Where The Pogues differ to some of the other artists we've put on these music pages is in the way they celebrate drinking rather than wallow in it. Like all Irish singers and poets they have their moments of course. A Pair of Brown Eyes, for instance, is from the same Irish stable as a million tradit...

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