Turn That Noise Down - The Pogues


So many well-known albums turn 30 this year and Steve Taylor-Bryant and Susan Omand travel back to 1989 to revisit some of the sounds of their youth that made parents shout "Turn that noise down!" This week, it's all about Peace and Love for Susan...

If your only experience of The Pogues’ music is Fairytale of New York, I urge you to listen to their 1989 album Peace and Love*.

The first track, Gridlock, is so far removed from Fairytale; a jazz beat, trumpets and thumping double bass that makes me think of 1950s detective noir and mobster car chases. The album soon settles down, though, into more Pogue-like territory, with White City, upbeat Irish music to dance to and Shane McGowan’s signature drawl on the attack. A softer Celtic sound starts the traditionally-inspired Young Ned of the Hill before the beat picks up and continues with Misty Morning, Albert Bridge. What I like about The Pogues’ music of this era is their mix of foot-tapping traditional sounds with the added zing of instruments of jazz brass and a fusion of styles, Cotton Fields being a song that really does that. Blue Heaven is next and is a song that would be right at home in the charts today, it has a simple catchy chorus, manic flute and a real summer beach feel. Down All the Days and USA have, as you’d assume, a truly American feel, from the ranches of the vast plains of Montana to the psychedelic sounds of San Francisco, proving that there’s much more to The Pogues than Ireland. In fact, I was surprised to read, when doing a bit of research into the album, that all the songs on Peace & Love are actually inspired by the city when the Pogues first got together – London.

If you’re still fixated on The Pogues being all about Fairytale of New York, you’ll get your fix of the much missed Kirsty MacColl as she sings on the gorgeous Lorelei, with guitarist Phil Chevron rather than Shane McGowan taking the vocal lead, and it’s by far the better for it. Then the Irish influence returns with a vengeance in the Gartloney Rats and, in Boat Train, it undercuts some brilliant brass. Tombstone sees the tempo slow down again with a glorious low drone, for a story of lands lost and times past. The Spanish sounding Night Train to Lorca and London You’re A Lady round out an album that I really should have been listening to a lot more than I have.

Especially when it starts like this…



* as a foot note, did you notice that the boxer on the cover has an extra finger on this right hand? Don't you hate it when words have too many letters in them?

Image - Amazon