The Snake

Source: The Courier-Journal
Contributor: DzM
Copyright: (c) The Courier-Journal 1995

Shane MacGowan, the gravel-and-sandpaper-voiced former lead singer of the Irish group the Pogues, has released his first solo effort after being kicked out of the group for his never-ending drunkenness.

Now sober — or more sober than before, anyway — and with a new band, the Popes, MacGowan growls his way through a collection of Irish reels and straight-ahead rockers. Highlights include “Victoria” and “Haunted,” a ballad with Sinead O’Connor that sounds like a duet between Satan and the Blessed Mother. MacGowan’s new band shines on rockers like “Church of the Holy Spook” but can’t hold a shamrock to the warp-speed assault of the Pogues.

The Pogues worked because each member of the group brought varied interests to the recordings, such as Irish folk, Middle Eastern, Spanish and Japanese influences. The result was a smorgasbord of intertwined sounds, both acoustic and electronic, driven by Andrew Rankin’s powerful drum skills.

While listening to “The Snake,” I also spent some time with the last Pogues disc, “Waiting for Herb,” the first recording sans MacGowan. “Waiting for Herb” is also a solid effort but missing the power of a strong lead singer/-songwriter, someone like Shane MacGowan. You do the math.