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4.6 out of 5 stars17
4.6 out of 5 stars
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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.
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on August 1, 2002
By 1984 when this was released, "Punk" had by and large fallen prey to cliche. The fury of The Sex Pistols was rapidly being tamed by MTV and mascara bands like The Cure. Then along came the Pogues. Led by MacGowan, a bit of a celebrity from Punk's glory days, this band went and socked the whole scene in the nose, proving that despite all the hype, Punk was more attitude than musical innovation. As their blistering version of "Poor Paddy" goes to show, behind any musical stance, it's all good old fashioned Folk music at heart. In fact, I'll go so far as to say, this record put the last nail into Punk's coffin.
IF I SHOULD surely the band at their peak but don't overlook this somewhat underrated gem. Amid raging covers of Irish Folk standards lie some of MacGowan's best loved originals. There's the live staple, "Streams of Whiskey" and "Boys From County Hell", which has to be one of my favorite MacGowan tunes. Another neglected classic is the manic ghost tale, "Down In The Ground Where The Dead Men Go". Fenced on all sides by convivial rowdiness, the ballads really stand out."Kitty" could make a dead man weep and their renditon of Brendan Behan's "The Auld Triangle" is probably the greatest version ever recorded. If you've sampled the virtues of RUM SODOMY & THE LASH, not to mention their masterpiece, FALL FROM GRACE, let your curiousity get the best of you and pick this up.
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on May 6, 2010
The Pogues were typecast as Irish, but it should be remembered they were in fact Anglo-Irish, and this debut album actually evokes London more than Ireland. 'Transmetropolitan' is a love/hate paean to that very city, and my personal favourite track 'Dark Streets of London' is a catchy but deeply beautiful song which stands alongside 'Lullaby of London' from their third album.

Other tunes range from drunken cavorts ('Streams of Whiskey', 'Waxie's Dargle') to the plaintive 'Kitty', a sad ballad of love and loss. 'Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go' is a furious McGowan-penned piece of folkloric necro-horror, while 'Greenland Whale Fisheries' is a traditional whaling ballad which animal welfare advocates should like, because the whale wins!

This is a raw and kick-stomping debut, from a band who went on to even better things.
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on September 24, 2003
I think this album is underrated as hell. Although the best songs from "If I Should Fall..." are much better than the best songs from "Red Roses," I would nevertheless say that Red Roses is a better listen song-by-song from start to finish. Shane's characteristic sharp wit and black humor are well represented here, from Transmetropolitan, to Dark Streets Of London, to Streams Of Whiskey, to the (disturbingly) hysterical Down In The Ground Where The Dead Men Go. Add some choice covers, thrown in with a few ballads that would make a sphinx weep, and you've got a damn good album. Even if you don't think this is as good as the next two Pogues' albums, think about it... is anything as good as the next two Pogues' albums? Nope.
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on October 2, 2003
I feel personally that this is the best pogues album because the tracks are so raw with emotion.Once the pogues hit the big time there music although brilliant was too professional. I think that this is the best album because it sounds as if it is being recorded in the back of a pub. The best songs are of course Boys From The County Hell and Streams of Whiskey.Plus this is the pogues with Siobhan O Riordan. She made this album brilliant.Take one example the boys from the county hell it has a simple guitar beat while another song for example Fiesta it sounds so practised and unnatural. This is THE Pogues album to buy
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on May 4, 2012
This first Pogues album is not their best, but MacGowan's take on "Kitty," (the obscure Irish Republican lament he learned from his mother)alone is worth the price. "Streams of Whiskey," MacGowan's homage to Brendan Behan, was the first hint of the songwriter Macgowan would become. MacGowan's vocal on Behan's "Auld Triangle" is outstanding as well. The remaining cuts, both the MacGowan originals and the covers, are all barnburners that made up the Pogues' early live sets. Rake at the Gates of Hell: Shane Macgowan in Context
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on March 24, 2003
Probably the most "traditional" sounding of the Pogues albums, and that works just fine for me! Not as good as "Rum, Sodomy and the Lash" or "If I Should Fall From Grace With God", but let's remember that the latter are two of the finest trad/rock albums EVER recorded. The playing is a little ragged, and the recording isn't as polished as later albums, but who cares? This is Shane and the Pogues (with Cat O'Riordan!!), man!!! For those who know, no more needs to be said. For those who don't, stick with the Clancy Brothers. Peace!
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on February 13, 2000
This is/was & always will be what the genius that is Shane MacGowan is all about. This, his debut album from the Pogues is pure raw, cheeky brilliance. Its a collaboration of punk/irish trad. The gap in the market has finally been filled. A space which lay vacant for far too long. Its a mix between the Dubliners and the Sex Pistols. Dont knock it till you've tried it.....
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on January 20, 2000
"Red Roses For Me" is classic Pogues--wild, irreverent, and energy- (and alcohol-) driven! This CD includes everything from tradtional ballads to up-beat Irish music with an edge. However, I feel that there should be some kind of a warning label that lets people know that listening to this CD makes you want to put away quite a few pints of Guinness!
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on May 20, 2002
Not their best album (that would be Rum Sodomy and the Lash) but this is quite good. Streams of Whiskey and Transmetropolitan showcase the original songwriting, and The Auld Triangle and Kitty show their sensitive renderings of Irish folk songs. They would get better with time, but this is where it all started.
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