Pogue Mahone – Pogue Mahone Records – 1984

Dark Streets Of London

The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

Just fancied a change tonight so stuck on the Pogue Mahone 7″ single, a wonderful debut single recorded and released with the help of Stan Brennan, ex manager of The Nips, who took this new band under his wing for the first couple of years of the bands career. The Pogues were, of course, soon to reach far greater heights in the years after this release.

Excellent stuff from a superior band.

Text below courtesy of wicked pee duh?

The Pogues are a band of mixed Irish and English background, playing traditional Irish music with influences from punk rock, formed in 1982 and fronted by Shane MacGowan. They reached international prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s, until MacGowan left the band in 1991 due to drinking problems. They continued with first Joe Strummer and then Spider Stacy on vocals before breaking up in 1996. The band began performing together again in 2001, though they have yet to record new music.

Their politically-tinged music was influenced by The Clash, yet used traditional Irish instruments such as the tin whistle, banjo, cittern, mandolin, accordion, and others. In the later incarnations of the band, after the departure of Shane MacGowan, rock instruments such as the electric guitar would become more prominent. The first of The Pogues’ albums, Red Roses for Me, borrows much from the punk tradition of MacGowan’s previous band The Nipple Erectors (later dubbed “The Nips”).

The Pogues were founded in King’s Cross, a district of North London, in 1982 as Pogue Mahone—pogue mahone being the Anglicisation of the Irish póg mo thóin, meaning “kiss my arse”.

The band specialised in Irish folk music, often playing with the energy of the punk rock scene in which several of the members had their roots.

The roots of The Pogues were formed when MacGowan (vocals), Peter “Spider” Stacy (tin whistle), and Jem Finer (banjo) were together in an occasional band called The Millwall Chainsaws in the late 1970s after MacGowan and Stacy met in the toilets at a Ramones gig at The Roundhouse in 1977. MacGowan was already with The Nips, though when they broke up in 1980 he concentrated a bit more on the still unstructured Millwall Chainsaws, who changed their name to The New Republicans. During this period MacGowan and Finer auditioned unsuccessfully for a license to busk at Covent Garden. In 1982 James Fearnley (accordion) joined MacGowen, Stacy, and Finer, initially calling the band The Men They Couldn’t Hang, before settling on Stacy’s suggestion of Pogue Mahone. The new group played their first gig at The Pindar Of Wakefield on 4 October 1982.

They later added Cait O’Riordan (bass) and Andrew Ranken (drums). The band played London pubs and clubs and released a single, “Dark Streets of London,” on the Pogue Mahone label run by Stan Brennan, their manager at the time. The band gained a small reputation with this release and especially for their live performances and then eventually they  came to the attention of the media and Stiff Records when they opened for The Clash on their 1984 tour. Shortening their name to “The Pogues” (partly due to BBC censorship following complaints from Gaelic speakers in Scotland) they released their first album Red Roses for Me on Stiff that October.

The band gained more attention when the UK Channel 4’s influential music show The Tube made a video of their version of “Waxie’s Dargle” for the show. The performance – featuring Spider Stacy repeatedly smashing himself over the head with a beer tray (in the manner of Bob Blackman’s infamous “Mule Train/Mule Tray”) – became a favourite with the viewers, but Stiff refused to release it as a single, feeling it was too late for it to help Red Roses for Me (in fact their record label, Stiff, was by then in deep financial trouble). Nevertheless, it remained a favourite request for the show for many years.

Phil Chevron (guitar) joined the group soon after, then with the aid of punk and New Wave forefather Elvis Costello they recorded the follow up, Rum, Sodomy and the Lash, in 1985. The album title is a famous comment falsely attributed to Winston Churchill who was supposedly describing the “true” traditions of the British Royal Navy. The album cover featured The Raft of the Medusa, with the faces of the characters in Théodore Géricault’s painting replaced with those of the band members. The album shows the band moving away from covers to original material. Shane MacGowan came into his own as a songwriter with this disc, offering up poetic story-telling, such as “The Sick Bed of Cúchulainn” and “The Old Main Drag”, as well as definitive interpretations of Ewan MacColl’s “Dirty Old Town” and Eric Bogle’s “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda” (this had previously been covered by Shane’s fellow punk contemporaries The Skids in 1981).

The band failed to take advantage of the momentum created by the strong artistic and commercial success of their second album. They first refused to record another album (offering up the four-track EP Poguetry in Motion instead); O’Riordan married Costello and left the band, to be replaced by bassist Darryl Hunt; and they added a multi-instrumentalist in Terry Woods, formerly of Steeleye Span. Looming over the band at this period (as throughout their entire career) was the increasingly erratic behaviour of their vocalist and principal songwriter, Shane MacGowan. Their record label, Stiff Records, went bankrupt soon after the 1987 release of the single “The Irish Rover” (with the Dubliners).

  1. baron von zubb
    baron von zubb
    October 14, 2008 at 8:58 am

    Interesting bit of history that i didnt know the details of. Read somewhere that Mr Shane was from Sth Kilburn. Like a few of the provo active service units of the era. And has the H band continued in the same vain, coming from up the road, we may have been the first punk klimsner outfit.

  2. John No Last Name
    John No Last Name
    October 14, 2008 at 9:02 am

    Thanks for posting this, amazing band both live and on record

  3. Martin C
    Martin C
    October 14, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    One of their original names was the New Republicans, according to Spider Stacey an early gig ended in chaos when a load of off-duty squaddies kicked off. Actually, I’m going to shamelessly namedrop here, cos I haven’t had a chance so far: my sister lived on the same estate in Kings Cross as Spider and Shane and used to play tin whistle with them (round their flat, never live or in any ‘band’ capacity) when they were starting out. Years on, I still think they were the best band ever, it was literally like my dad’s and older brother’s favourite music colliding with each other -and Shane’s one of the finest poets to have ever mapped out London on vinyl.

  4. Sam
    October 14, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    I think Shane lived near the Barbican Jake. His parents were Irish but I think they were fairly well off and, being a bright lad he went to Westminster public school. I loved the Pogues back in the day but Shane’s provo leanings get on my nerves. If you watch interviews with him up until 86 or so, he was the cockney’s cockney. Now of course he’s Brendan Behan on a bad day. He slags off England and ‘the English’ a lot but he’s really a London boy himself. There’s a great documentary called ‘If I should Fall From Grace’ about Shane which is hilarious and tragic. Despite what I’ve said I think he’s a musical genius…or was. Coming from Irish roots myself, I could relate to them a lot and I think they celebrated that vague London Irishness. Of course fans in the States all think they’re from County Clare or something.

  5. Nuzz
    October 14, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    Never mind kiss my arse, they certainly kicked arse!

  6. Ian S
    Ian S
    October 15, 2008 at 10:11 am

    baron von zubb wrote: “Read somewhere that Mr Shane was from Sth Kilburn. Like a few of the provo active service units of the era.”

    McGowan’s Wikipedia entry says he was born and spent his early years in Tunbridge Wells.

    McGowan has tried on different personas but that’s what entertainers do and no-one suffers as a result, except themselves maybe. It’s not like sneaking into a hospital and pretending to be a surgeon without having any medical qualifications.

  7. Carl
    October 15, 2008 at 12:05 pm


    There is a Nips live album on this site somewhere and when I heard it, I was amused by Shane singing away in the style of a cockney wide boy !!.
    Saying that I do like the Pogues stuff as well but his grating Irish lilt does get on my wick a bit.

  8. Sam
    October 15, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    In the documentary I mentioned there’s an earlyish Pogues interview where he still has a very strong London accent. In the same film he says that he loved Johnny Rotten singing God Save the Queen as it was ‘obviously anti-English’. I had no idea of Lydon’s Irish roots until after the fact. It was very hip to be English as can be during punk. Scarecrow and Wank had just the right pastyness. I failed a bit in this regard as I always looked a bit eastern European (I’m told). Anyway, I don’t really care if he chose to change accents and nationality but he’s down as saying he wished he’d joined the IRA instead of getting into music. I still can’t see how blowing up pubs in the West End really solves anything.
    I spotted him at a trendy 80s nightspot in Camden in about 1987 wearing blue velour Oxfam flares (with some nasty stains on) and flip flops mended with gaffa tape. Add to this the teeth. He had a constant stream of different female admirers around him all evening. Stardom is an amazing thing.

  9. Martin C
    Martin C
    October 16, 2008 at 12:27 am

    Re the IRA thing: I’m not particulary proud to relate this, but until about 21 I was pro-IRA – I was born in England and grew up with quite a few other kids with Irish parents. Maybe one has to remember the amount of anti-Irish sentiment around in the 80s (which all seems fairly quaint now that we’ve got a new folk devil to shit our pants about). It’s just a case of some people assuming you’re scum or a bit backwards because of your origins, until you get to the point that you think, well, if you’re going to have to take the flack, you might as well say, OK, yeah, I’m on their side. Lesson few seem to have learned, given the amount of shit Muslim kids have to take these days. I mean, for fuck’s sake, teenage girls put on the PTA list cos they wrote some rap lyrics in their bedroom…

    Re the accent thing: does anyone really care? Andy Martin got away with it for years, so did Mark E Smith (check his faux cockney patter on the second 7″) and about 99% of Anarcho and Oi! vocalists.

    And I know it’s outside this site’s timeframe, but the Wikipedia blurb gives the impression that was the end of it all – ‘If I Should Fall From Grace With God’ from 1988 and about 50% of ‘Peace and Love’ from 1989 are fucking incredible

  10. Martin C
    Martin C
    October 16, 2008 at 12:54 am

    Oh, and the Kilburn thing’s a bit hyped to death…given that it used to be referred to as County Kilburn, was under regular surveillance, is it credible that a rigorously trained IRA cell would break all the rules in the book by sneaking out of the ‘safe house’ at 3am just to paint a circled H on a wall?


    Bekki Bondage vs the drummer from Vixen in a wet field in Sligo – who’d win?

  11. Sam
    October 16, 2008 at 12:54 am

    Like I said, my Dad was Irish and I grew up in a very anti-English environment. My dad used to teach me rebel songs and I used to get into it with school mates during the 70s. However, my dad sounded very English and lived most of his life in England greiving for Ireland. Waste of time if you ask me. I think the Pogues were very healing for London Irish kids of my generation.
    Apparently Shane walked around the West End as a punk with ‘IRA’ written on his forehead, which I always took as less political opinion than a suicidal provocation to anyone who wanted a go. We all did shit like that.

  12. Martin C
    Martin C
    October 16, 2008 at 1:11 am

    And the funny thing is he’s wearing a Union Jack shirt in that Don Letts film!

    To be honest, I never really saw the Pogues as an ‘Irish’ band, to me they were always about London. It got a bit annoying at school when other kids went on about ‘fiddle-de-dee music’, they sound nothing like Irish folk (well, to me anyway). Hey, did your old man ever force you to repeatedly listen to Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers every Sunday morning? I still think ‘At Carnegie Hall’ was our 2nd gen equivalent of ‘London Calling’, ‘Highway ’61 Revisited’ and ‘Live at San Quentin’ all rolled into one

  13. Sam
    October 16, 2008 at 1:34 am

    No I used to get acapella versions of ‘On the 14th Day Of November’ and ‘Bold Fenian Men’. ‘Auld Triangle’ by The Dubliners still raises the hair on parts of my anatomy. I agree the Pogues weren’t an Irish band. Ironically when Shane got a bunch of trained Irish musicians to play with he sounded like shit.

  14. Sam
    October 16, 2008 at 3:22 am

    Agree with If I Should Fall From Grace With God – definitely a group masterpiece (significantly 3 of the best songs aren’t Shane’s) but Peace And Love was such a disapointment in my opinion. Sounded like the beginning of the end if you ask me. ‘A Drink with Shane McGowan’ by his ex is a great read as well. I thought it interesting that he said the end came when the band started considering themselves as ‘professional musicians’. ‘I never wanted to be a professional musician – I wanted to do something real’. Pure punk and I quote that all the time.

  15. Martin C
    Martin C
    October 16, 2008 at 10:55 am

    P&L has some shockingly bad stuff on it, but ‘White City’, ‘Boat Train’ and ‘London You’re a Lady’ are all great. Terry Woods was quite an annoying muso type.

  16. chris
    October 16, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    QUOTE: Re the accent thing: does anyone really care? Andy Martin got away with it for years, so did Mark E Smith (check his faux cockney patter on the second 7″) and about 99% of Anarcho and Oi! vocalists.

    I think it’s just a matter of many singers ‘finding their feet’ by emulating their favourite singers. Strangely, all the original punk singers had very different and distinctive voices, though a few years later (even in Scotland!) you’d get 101 singers trying to sing like Rotten…or Steve ignorant. Similarily, most heavy metal singers have always adopted an Americanised delivery.

    To be honest i have never heard Mark E Smith ‘sing’ in anything other than his ‘Mark E Smith drawl, and the only accent i have ever heard Andy Martin put on is the terrible scottish one he puts on in a few Academy 23 songs (his ‘Russ Abbott voice’ as i’ve told him!!) Why, I do not know as im my opinion Andy probably has the best and most original voice of all the bands from that era. His vocals on “Anti-Christ” from the first demo, for instance, are simply phenomenal.

    Ironically, I remember talking to Deek of Oi Polloi – who has a fairly archetypal Edinburgh accent – about this once and he admitted that having started by singing Cockney Rejects and 4-Skins covers he actually finds it virtually impossible NOT to sing in his cockney-fied singing voice!!

    But then again, if it’s not broken why bother fixing it? 🙂

  17. Martin C
    Martin C
    October 17, 2008 at 1:48 am

    Yeah, totally agree – after all, it’s only music. Admittedly I haven’t heard “It’s the New Thing” by the Fall for ages, but seem to remember the vocals sounding way different and more textbook punk ie- Rotten-ish (after years of hearing the 80s and 90s stuff first). Then again, I can’t detect a major difference between Shane’s Nipple Erectors and Pogues stuff, so maybe I’m just tone deaf…(might explain why I occasionally listen to the Grey Wolves on boring tube journeys)

    Incidentally, is Andy Martin Scottish then? There seems a bit of a difference (well, to my damaged lugs anyway) between everything recorded before and after “Hymn to Pan”. (Not that it matters if he’s fucking Danish, a good record’s a good record). Personally, I like the accent on some of the Unit stuff like ‘A Case History’ and ‘Queer’, and that A23 spoken word piece he did about Edinburgh – wasn’t sure whether the earlier accent was forced…

    When I was 11, I used to despise Rick Astley – after all, all the girls fancied him and saw him as the ultimate boyfriend they wanted to mother and cook for, while we were just spotty wankers in market clobber who they wouldn’t spit at – but, in a strange way, I can dig his voice now. True appreciation of Rick can take years.

    Gerry Adams, he had some weird fluctuating accents in the Thatcher years.

  18. Martin C
    Martin C
    October 17, 2008 at 1:55 am

    By the way, I’m serious about the Vice Squad vs Vixen thing

  19. chris
    October 17, 2008 at 10:39 am

    haha, No, Andy just put that voice on to wind folk up I think. If you know him you’ll know what he’s like in that respect. His exact words to me when I asked him about it were “If Deek Allan can sing in a Cockney accent why can’t I sing in a Scottish voice?”. From the last Unit CD he sent me don’t think he does it any more, but i’m not very familiar with any Apostles stuff after the 5th single so can’t really comment. Incidentally, i’d also add that Andy appears to have an immensely impressive grasp of language and to the best of my knowledge can speak german, mandarin and cantonese fluently, all of which he has sung songs in too.

  20. Ian S
    Ian S
    October 17, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    ” True appreciation of Rick can take years.”

    He had a good voice, SAW just made him sing all those shite songs too fast. Rick could have been the new Nat King Cole if they’d let him 😉

  21. baron von zubb
    baron von zubb
    October 18, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    He meant to write ‘NFA’ on his jacket but was too pisssed.
    Dont wanna get all political and all that but blowing up pubs or whatever, horrible as it is, and make no mistake, it is, puts pressure on the powers that be, in this case the british state to negotiate. Thats the reality of it.
    Behind the scenes Thatchers govt was talking to the IRA the whole time.
    And would ‘ve done with even more enthusiasm had those pipe bombs not been angled incorrectly.
    Its classic Lenninism. Used effectivly all round the globe including in India after the mutiny, in Pre-Isreal by the stern Gang and now by Hamas, for example (though suicide bombing is actually a less effective tool as it already admits no consiquence for succses or failure, and therefor weakness).
    The thing that shook my personal support for the provos, or for their aims at least, was meeting folk whilst travelling from the north who explained the active service units were the cream of the crop, and the rest of em were just thugs with guns who didnt give a fuck and were too thick to understand ‘the struggle’ anyway.
    They described the situation there as just 2 criminal gangs of different branches of christianity who liked kicking crap out of each other.
    In India its called ‘communal’ violence.
    Having said that its hard to feel sympathy with the loyalists.

  22. stan brennan
    stan brennan
    October 27, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Just a small correction. PM records was not owned by the band. I set up the label to record and release the single. An old method followed on Soho records, my previous label and the Nips record releases vehicle. Simply the idea was: record the first record and then sell it and the band on to a bigger label. Myself and my partner Phil Gaston did this with bands like the Inmates, the Passions and the Jets.
    At the time no record label would touch the Pogues and as their acting manager I felt this was the best way forward. It seems that I was right and it would be nice to get a little credit!
    all the best,
    Stan Brennan

  23. Penguin
    Penguin • Post Author •
    October 27, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    Sorted now Stan, amended the wikkipedia piece (that I ripped of for the bulk of the post) above (maybe worth hassling the wikki site to amend there end though).

    Thanks for bringing out this great record (amongst other great records).

  24. Gerard Kelly
    Gerard Kelly
    November 20, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    Speaking of “credit” The name was one of two suggested by Nips Fan Tom O’Grady. The other name was “The Men They Couldn’t Hang” which Shane suggest to Stefan Cush when he formed his band. He gets a credit for it on their first album. I think Tom O’Grady is the same bloke who lilts on fade out of first album.

    Pog Mo Thoin was a phrase known to every school boy in Ireland.

  25. David Q
    David Q
    November 30, 2023 at 2:28 pm

    Tom wrote Navigator as Tom McGrath.

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