Jiggery Poguery

Source: The Sunday Tribune
Date: 23 July 1989
Contributor: Ingrid Knetsch

BP Fallon goes mad for the new LP from the Pogues: their ‘Peace And Love’

Shane MacGowan is sitting on the floor with his weird sickly-green thing in his hands. It’s a cheap cross between a guitar and the Indian instrument the sitar, and when Shane plays it it sounds like Ravi Shankar on Mandrax. In other words, it sounds great. “I’m not entirely sure if you’re a hundred percent in tune, Shane” producer Steve Lillywhite says diplomatically over the intercom. Sounds fine to me. Surrounded by wires and mikestands and the whole million-pound shebang of the recording studio, Shane shrugs. “What do you expect, he cackles, his hissing laugh like a snake being run over by a steamroller.

Outside in the marbled reception area, Terry Woods is fretting. He and his wife Marianne have been invited to lunch in Maidenhead or somewhere but now he has to be here in the studio in St John’s Wood. “Some people have no bloody consideration” is the gist of Terry’s verbiage. Fret, fret, fret, he goes.

In the control room, the most smartly dressed Pogue Philip Chevron cradles his Eddie Cochran Gretch guitar lovingly as Jem Finer and his wife Marcia gaze at an enormous painting of Shane that some artist has deemed fit to bring in. Kirsty MacColl – Steve’s wife – bounces in hovering on happiness, an unopened bottle of champagne in her hand. She’s just signed her deal with Virgin Records. The cork pops out of the bottle, rapidly.

Back in reception, the phone rings. It’s whistle-player Spider’s wife Cheyne. Spider ambles languidly from another little room beside the kichen from where he’s been watching television to take the call. Cheyne tells him his father has been hit by a bus or car or whatever it was. “Chayne says he’s fine” Spider says and goes back to watch TV. Shane’s girlfriend Victoria strides in clad in grey jodhpurs and black riding boots, flicking the hair out of her eyes. Her lips are full and red, very very red, like they’ve been stung to perfection by an amorous bee.

A relaxed mayhem permeates the place. The Pogues are recording their LP ‘Peace And Love’.

When he was but a child, at The Commons in Tipperary young Shane MacGowan was out playing with his sister Siobhan when she went back into the house to ask their Aunt Norah if kissing frogs was alright. From behind a hedge, Shane heard a whirring sound and scampered to investigate. There, before his little eyes which were now gleaming wide with astonishment and admiration, was a shining psychedelic flying saucer. From this machine stepped a creature with the camp and kingly bearing of Little Richard, dressed in a purple cloak adorned with glittering jewels. “Drink of this, young master” said the twinkling newcomer, proffering the lad a golden chalice. Shane, in the manner he would adapt years later, stretched out an eager hand. “Wait!” intoned a cautioning voice. It wasn’t Shane’s. “If you drink of this, when you’re a man some people will think you’re a fool even though you’ll be very very intelligent. And you won’t always be happy and at peace but that will come. And your teeth… well, they won’t look like this” and this cosmic Richard Penniman with the fluttering eyelashes flashed his pearlies. “But you will be a great artist, little fellow. What would you like to be?” His heart now pounding, Shane whispered that he’d like to write songs. “So be it” grinned this androgynous beauty and Shane’s tiny hands grabbed the enormous goblet and he drank of this magic potion and his head swam and his knees went weak and he heard the butterflies singing tunes of symphonic elegance. When he awoke … was it a dream? Siobhan toddled out of the house and Shane said nothing. But with his tongue, he could feel that one of his teeth was loose…

The Pogues’ fourth LP ‘Peace And Love’ (Pogue Mahone Records) confirms that the group are one of the most vital in the world. Sure, Shane’s voice is shot to hell but no matters because the soul is there. Half a dozen of the songs are written by Shane while the other eight are spread between Terry Woods – one with his chum Ron Kavana -Philip Chevron – one with Pogue Darryl Hunt – and four by the dark horse of The Pogues Jem Finer.

The Woods/Kavana composition ‘Young Ned Of The Hill’. sung by Terry in his infectious quavery voice, is a full-frontal attack on … well, Terry sings: “A curse upon you Oliver Cromwell/You raped your Motherland/I hope you’re rotting in hell …” Terry’s other offering, the jizz of ‘Gartloney Rats’ celebrates the loose band in which he played near Virginia in Co Cavan. Philip’s lonely lovesong ‘Lorelei’ opens with guitars straight out of The Jesus And Mary Chain and Kirsty MacColl lends her voice before wistful harmonica brings things to a conclusion, and Shane’s rampaging ‘Cotton Fields’ borrows the riff from Elvis’ ‘His Latest Flame’ while his Eastern flavoured ‘USA’ ends with the atmosphere of the dark hoodoo voodoo of Dr John’s ‘Walk On Gilded Splinters’. Perfect.

The current single, Jem’s ‘Misty Morning Albert Bridge’ has a comforting melancholia and is up there with Ray Davis’ ‘Waterloo Sunset’ as a future classic but my favourite cut on ‘Peace And Love’ is Shane’s heartfelt tribute to Christy Brown, ‘Down All The Days’. He could have come unstuck here, our Shane, but no, it’s soulfully superb, Shane singing as a type-writer clatters behind him “Christy Brown a clown around town/Now a man of reknown from Dingle to Down/I type with me toes …”. It’s both catchy and moving, this. Lovely.

The new Pogues album will startle folk who see the group as simply pumped up diddley eye, or just falling down drunk eejits. Among their wounds and their battles, The Pogues are true soldiers of love and a most adventurous group. Just about now if you look up into the sky you might per-chance see a plane headed for Gatwick Airport from America. The Pogues are in it. So raise your head and position your fingers in a reverse Churchillian pose. After all, the music is the message. Peace and love …