In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Perfect to gently sway your glass too as a night is winding down and you haven’t quite realised yet that you drank way too much.”
The Pogues occupy a very singular place in rock and roll. Extremely faithful to the traditional music of their native Ireland, while bringing an undeniable punk rock attitude. This is the kind of culture clash that could so easily become a pastiche. But The Pogues have maintained this delicate balance for decades, only becoming more and more iconic as the years pass. Sure, font man Shane McGowen has become almost mythical in his own lifetime, but a band can’t survive this long purely on one man’s notoriety. There’s a lot more to The Pogues. A lot more I was hoping would be represented with Rum, Sodomy & the Lash.
The opening pair perfectly showcase this band at their polar best. From the rollicking, whiskey soaked party tune that is The Sick Bed of Cuchulainn, to the nostalgic lament of The Old Main Drag, the fiddles, mandolins, accordions and hand drums are at their Irish best.
I’m a big fan of the Dropkick Murphys, but there are times when I feel like they flirt with pushing their semi-Irish credentials a little too far. For some reason, that was the first thought that popped into my head as the tin whistle of Wild Cats of Kilkenny lead this to tapping instrumental. If a band like the Dropkick Murphys attempted this, it would be a cheap gimmick or disposable pastiche. But with the Pogues, you can hear their own heritage so deeply steeped in this music that it just feels right.
The melody, structure and pretty much everything about Sally MacLennane is so faithful to its roots, that it borders on sounding like a piss take of this kind of music. but I’ll be buggered if it didn’t suck me in anyway. And as it leads into to what I find to be one of the absolute quintessential Pogues songs with Dirty Old Town, that familiarity only becomes all the more charming. This is the perfect song to gently sway your glass to as a night is winding down and you haven’t quite realised yet that you drank way too much.
And that sentiment sums up everything that’s so great about The Pogues and Rum, Sodomy & the Lash. That traditional basis, tricked up with a punk rock attitude and edge that made this centuries old style of music feel vibrant and relevant in 1985, and still makes it feel vibrant and relevant three decades later.