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The Very Best of the Pogues

(Shout! Factory; US: 22 Jan 2013; UK: 22 Jan 2013)

Irish Folk Punk

Irish folk music underwent a renaissance during the 1970s. The genre was revitalized by energetic young bands such as Planxty, Clannad and Moving Hearts. At the same time, rock music exploded in the United Kingdom as Punk reared its beautiful, ugly head. Many listeners thought the two styles could not be more different, but the Pogues showed them wrong. The Pogues brought folk’s concerns with the poor and working class and blended it with the anger of punk, which had always had the same connection to the disaffected of society. They mixed tin whistles and accordions with electric guitars and drums in a way that complemented each other’s sounds.

Meanwhile, Shane McGowan sang with a sneer and wrote lyrics that encapsulated the poetry of the streets and its outcasts; the drunks and whores and the lives they led. Songs like “Fairytale of New York”, “Sally MacLennane”, and “A Pair of Brown Eyes” captured the dirty exuberance of living, no matter how down and out one was. The band continued in different incarnations until the early ‘90s (all the material here is from the ‘80s and ‘90s) when they broke up except for occasional reunions. This single disc collection contains remastered versions of their best material, mostly from the early years. It’s an essential introduction to a great group who deserves to be heard and remembered.


Steven Horowitz has a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Iowa, where he continues to teach a three-credit online course on "Rock and Roll in America". He has written for many different popular and academic publications including American Music, Paste and the Icon. Horowitz is a firm believer in Paul Goodman's neofunctional perspective on culture and that Sam Cooke was right, a change is gonna come.


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