The Pogues – Rum Sodomy & the Lash
Stiff Records, 1985
Acquired: Half Price Books, Used, 2014
You know the Pogues are probably pleased as piss that their music is the best possible thing anyone could ever play in a bar. If you close your eyes you can see it. A busy night, some roughnecks going toe to toe, and “Sally Maclennane” comes on the jukebox and there is peace, love, and understanding. How could you not raise a pint to that song? Or this album? I’m a big fan of highlighting my shortcomings as a professed music lover, and never truly paying the Pogues any mind is sinful. There are a few of their tracks I’ve heard over the years and enjoyed, of course (I’m human, after all), but listening to Rum Sodomy & the Lash in its entirety on a Tuesday morning has scarred me irreparably in the best possible way. You can practically feel Shane MacGowan stumbling down the road in these songs, turning out one of the most compelling vocal performances of all time. I mean, you think it’s all fun and games, let’s go down to the pub and drink and be merry and then you get to “And the Band Played Waltzing Matlida” and this unsentimental and woozy war story breaks your heart into a million little pieces. It makes me deeply long for a day when the Pogues succeed U2 as the Band of Ireland.