Most helpful positive review
Early Sound of the Pogues
on August 18, 2003
As others have mentioned, Shane MacGowan and couple other of the founding members of the Pogues were veterans of the British punk scene of the late 70's. In the early 80's, the Pogues got their start in the pubs around London as a sort of novelty act by playing old Irish folk tunes with a punk attitude: fast, loud, and obnoxious. A novelty act the Pogues would have remained if it had not been for two key elements: the abilty of Shane MacGowan's boozy growl of a singing voice to put on edge on even the most mundane lyric and even more importantly was his ability to write some of the finest songs of his generation. In time, MacGowan's talents as a singer/songwriter would turn the Pogues from a crude pub band into one of the most exciting and unique groups of the 80's.
In their first studio album, "Red Roses for Me," one can hear the early sound of the Pogues' as they make their first toddling steps towards greatness. Unfortunately, the musicianship is not exactly of the highest quality and sound of the entire CD is raw. Overall, the Pogues' sound on this CD is that of a band that had just recently been playing for beer money in some dive. But, hey, we're dealing with ex-punks here! The Pogues would eventually acquire a better guitarist and bassist and their sound would be polished by more accomplished producers. Although "Red Roses for Me" shows a band that needs to improve musically, there is one element present here that showed that it had definite promise: MacGowan's songwriting. Although the album does contain a number of covers of old folk tunes, it's MacGowan's songs that jump out at the listener: "Boys from the County Hell," "Streams of Whiskey," and "Transmetropolitan."
I would recommend this album to people who are already familiar with the Pogues and want to see how they sounded at the start of their career. However, for someone looking for just one Pogues CD then I would rank this album way below "If I Should Fall from Grace with God" and "Rum Sodomy and the Lash" Also, I would be hesitant to recommend it over "Peace and Love" or "Hell's Ditch." I mainly gave it four stars because it's the Pogues and for the importance of hearing the raw early version of this great band for die hard fans.