The Pogues – The Stiff Records B-Sides (1984-1987)
300 dpi cover scans | Folk-rock, Post-punk
1.93 GB (24/192) + 1.11 GB (24/96)
2023 Record Store Day Ltd. Ed || Warner Brothers 0190296503221
I just got the news that troubled genius Shane MacGowan passed away. There have been plenty of musical deaths in the last year, some of them unexpected and many more in the purview of the general vibe of this blog, that probably warranted a tribute post on this site. But I generally swore off doing commemoration posts when the musicians from my favorite eras of music began dropping like flies. Otherwise this blog would basically become an ongoing obituary column. I have been meaning to share this album since March, though. Many of the songs on it were new to me until this year, when it was released as a Record Store Day exclusive release. These are the kinds of RSD releases that characterized that “holiday” at the beginning for many people, presenting something genuinely rare and collectable, before it became flooded with pointless reissues of mainstream albums, gimmicky picture discs, and Taylor Swift exclusives that cause teenager girls and their moms to queue up on sidewalks overnight.. (Don’t get me wrong, I still spend money on RSD stuff – too much, actually – but man, there are so many garbage releases now. No offense intended to the Swifty army..)
But, I digress. It says a lot about The Pogues at their prime, and MacGowan in particular, that even their non-album B-sides were as strong as the material you find on their long players. This collection is quite short for a double-LP (about 50 minutes), but that also allows the sonics to shine. There are no bad tracks here. Unsurprisingly, the track produced by Elvis Costello, with whom they toured the UK in 1984, sounds a bit less like them and more like The Pogues covering a Costello tune. Still good though. There are also collaborations with trad folkies The Dubliners here that are just good besotted fun; you can find a few smile-inducing videos of them performing The Irish Rover together on TV programs, like this one.
Irish President Michael Higgins – incidentally the only Western leader with the guts to resist the war-mongering and take a genuinely principled stance on the current debacle between the most cynical actors fueling the slaughter in the Middle East (or at least one of the slaughters, since nobody even talks about Syria any longer) … ahem, Michael Higgins commented extensively on Shane MacGowan’s legacy today in eloquent and effusive eulogizing. Tributes are pouring in from many others as well.
I’m very fond of their MacGowan-led major label releases as well, in my opinion representing them at the peak of their craft (*), but these Stiff Records recordings capture just how thrilling and, in many ways, revolutionary this group was when they first broke out. It may be a medical mystery and/or miracle how Shane MacGowan managed to survive to the age of 65 considering how bad he was at caring for himself. Is it trite to say I hope he’s finally found some peace? Probably. But regardless, if you have any whiskey in your cabinets – if not, maybe a non-alcoholic cider will serve just as well – considering pouring one out for one of Ireland’s great literary voices who also happened to lead a fantastic band.
*Note: several of The Pogues seminal works, when they were really breaking out, were released in the U.S. on MCA while simultaneously being issued on Stiff in the UK. So I tend to think of them as “major label” because where I’m from, they were.
Label/Cat#: Warner – 0190296503221
Country: USA, Canada & Europe
Year: 22 Apr 2023
Genre: Rock, Folk, World, Country
Style: Folk Rock, Celtic, Punk
Format: 2 × Vinyl, LP, Record Store Day, Compilation, Limited Edition, Green Marbled
A1 – The Band Played Waltzing Matilda
A2 – Repeal Of The Licensing Laws
A3 – The Parting Glass
A4 – A Pistol For Paddy Garcia
B1 – Whiskey You’re The Devil
B2 – Muirshin Durkin
B3 – The Wild Rover
B4 – The Leaving Of Liverpool
C1 – London Girl
C2 – A Rainy Night In Soho
C3 – The Body Of An American
C4 – Planxty Noel Hill
D1 – The Irish Rover (feat. The Dubliners)
D2 – Mountain Dew (The Rare Ould Mountain Dew) (feat. The Dubliners)
D3 – The Battle March Medley
D4 – Shanne Bradley
LINEAGE: 2023 RSD Warner 0190296503221 ; Pro-Ject RM-5SE with Audio Tecnica Signet TK7E cartridge and AT-618 disc stabilizer; Speedbox power supply; Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 preamp with Philips NOS ECC83 tubes; Audioquest Black Mamba and Pangea Premier interconnect cables; RME Babyface Pro interface ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz*; clicks and pops removed manually with Adobe Audition 3.0; resampled, dithered, and converted to FLAC using iZotope RX Advanced. Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename. *Note: Track A4, “A Pistol For Paddy Garcia”, was captured at 2 db less input than the rest of the album, due to the (artillery-like) drums causing clipping. Everything else was left alone.