not a member? click here to sign up
The Rare Oul' Stuff
While it's probably true that he was never likely to repeat his groundbreaking early years, the Popes have their moments, particularly in a live context where MacGowan often seemed more in control.
Colm O Hare, 06 Dec 2001
Conventional wisdom has it that Shane MacGowan’s best work came during his time with the Pogues and that the quality of his output reduced markedly when he was finally pushed out of the group in the early 1990s. While it’s probably true that he was never likely to repeat his groundbreaking early years, the Popes have their moments, particularly in a live context where MacGowan often seemed more in control. Certainly the stunning performance he gave at the Millstreet Music Fair in the summer of ‘96 with the Popes far outshone some of the shambolic affairs which characterised latter-day Pogues gigs.
Timed to coincide with If I Should Fall From Grace With God, the recent documentary film of his life and times, The Rare Oul’ Stuff stacks up twenty-one songs from the band’s ZTT catalogue. Listening to these it’s clear that MacGowan’s writing is competing with the best of his earlier work. But the fact that, ‘The Song With No Name’ is a close relation of ‘A Pair Of Brown Eyes’ doesn’t make it any less of a great song.
Equally, the rollicking ‘Nancy Whiskey’ and ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Paddy’ are on a par with early Pogues classics ‘Sally McLenane’ and ‘The Boys From County Hell’.
‘Christmas Lullaby’ might pale in comparison with his magnum opus, ‘Fairytale Of New York’ yet it still combines a gorgeous melody with genuine Christmas atmosphere. The much-abused ‘Danny Boy’ benefits considerably from the MacGowan treatment while his ‘Spanish Lady’ could well be the definite reading of that standard.
Arguably the highlight here is his duet with Clannad’s Maire Brennan on ‘You’re The One’ a poignant, orchestrated ballad which has rightly been given a single release.