Listening to the Pogues, our favorite poseurs, is a bit like strolling along the banks of the Liffey in Dublin, heading for the Temple Bar district. Once you arrive, from pub to pub – but they are closed at the moment – you have to let the music escape and crash noisily on the damp cobblestones of the always crowded small street. A pint of Smithwick’s or Guinness in hand, is it your choice? How about a Black Bushmills?
It is also disembarking in Cork and watching these tongues of grass green like Ireland spread gently towards the ocean. The Pogues are all that on this The BBC Sessions 1984-1986. This album, straight out of Maida Vale, London’s public service radio studios, is without a doubt a page of history not to be missed. The 23-track CD, including seven unreleased tracks, captures the group at the best moments of their career, moving from the initial “pubesque” heckling of the period. Red Roses For Me the development of a more refined sound of Rum, Sodomy and the Lash and announcing the more assertive electrical transition of If I Should Fall from Grace with God.
But back to what made it all possible for the Pogues with these sessions. BBCor Peel . Long before our Anglo-Irish troublemakers went there, in the 1960s, the record companies, fearing that the distribution of records on the airwaves would cause their sales to fall, had passed a law imposing a maximum quota of radio stations. hours of broadcasting. Faced with this diktat, the radios bypass it and record live sessions in their studios. Thus in 1967 the first BBC Session is broadcast on Radio 1. From 1967 to his death in 2004, the English DJ John Peel will host, without interruption, the John Peel Sessions. The principle is simple: he invites one of the artists of the moment to play fifteen to twenty minutes in the studio. With a legendary flair, he will thus reveal David Bowie, Joy Division, the Smiths or even Nirvana at the beginning of their career… Peel was the essential for emerging groups, including the Pogues.
Alcohol, sweat and melancholy
Let us return this time to our sheep, far from being angels, but Irish for the most part. Right, Sir Shane MacGowan? This record is an exceptional testimony to the advent of this folk punk group. And even if the proposed versions do not really differ from those already known, they offer the spontaneity and freshness of live. It’s full of classics. There are moving ballads there, straight out of the toothless mouth of Shane MacGowan (A Pair of Brown Eyes, The Auld Triangle). We dance on the hopping Sally MacLennane. But there are also songs steeped in alcohol and ads, like Streams of Whiskey. Others still lean towards this very Celtic melancholy, when it is finally necessary to go home, Dirty Old Town. Finally, let’s not forget this smell of sweat from a day of m … at work which continues this Poor Paddy on the Railway. All the first part of the recordings date from 1984, when the group is still called Pogue Mahone.
As a reminder, our troublemakers have just opened for The Clash and signed on the punk label Stiff. But the party only lasts a while. In the 1990s, Shane MacGowan derailed the group. The documentary Crock Of Gold, directed by Julien Temple, shows him plunging into the sad decadence implicit at this end of history. In 1991, MacGowan left the group and Joe Strummer replaced him for a while. However, he returned to it in 2001, and the family hit the road again without going through the studio: “I went back to the Pogues and we started to hate each other again”,declared in 2015 the magnificent toothless. Still, this eventful land of Ireland will always be full of good surprises. Whether they come from the south or the north of the island, music always flows there. Of Thin Lizzy to Undertones, from Stiff Little Fingers to Boomtown Rats via U2, without forgetting Sinéad O’Connor, the Cranberries and today Fontaines DC, the spirit of the open sea makes this large piece of rock an endlessly renewed breeding ground that has the fierce desire to carry the song until the end of the night.