BAD TEETH BUT GRAND TUNES AS WE GET OUR IRISH UP
Spider Stacy, the man who introduced MTV to the tin whistle, turns 50-years-old tomorrow. Always the calmer counterpart to Shane MacGowan's belligerent, slurry, slightly daft wise man, Spider is an untutored, often unacknowledged part of Ireland's great punk-folk institution. One of the only members to take The Pogues' entire wild ride, Stacy has been alternately a foil for MacGowan (and early on Cait O'Riordan, too) or the lead vocalist for the band's last two studio albums before disbanding in 1996. Since the group reformed in 2001, Spider has been making shrill sounds and keeping their boisterous, pub friendly agit-rock alive and well. For many young Americans in the 1980s, The Pogues were a slap 'n' tickle introduction to English/Irish traditional music, as well as a rough primer in politics, social and governmental, in the U.K. There was something vaguely illicit about picking up Rum, Sodomy & the Lash in 1985. It felt naughty but actually contained a fiercely human array of traditionals and peak era MacGowan classics, a roughly ornate enzyme for future minglers of very old school and contemporary moves. The Pogues are the rare band that makes quite ancient song-storytelling relevant to a modern audience, introducing us to highwaymen, skulkers and down 'n' outers that look like us. They are bards with bruised knuckles, and we raise a toast to them, especially Spider, today.
Let's begin with the band in 1988 with live favorite "Thousands Are Sailing."
We stay in 1988 for "London Calling" with The Clash's Joe Strummer, who briefly toured with them in 1987 and 1991.
Next, a bit of whistle introduces "Body of an American" from the Dublin Self-Aid concert in 1986.
One of the band's most inspired collaborations occurred when Steve Earle asked them to play on his song "Johnny Come Lately." Here's a glimpse into those sessions followed by The Pogues playing the song, sadly sans Earle, in Japan.
We double down on our Irish-osity with the great Christy Moore doing The Pogues' contribution to the Christmas canon, "Fairytale of New York."
This week concludes with a nearly 20 minute block of The Pogues live in 1985, where they perform "And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" and "Whiskey You're The Devil," amongst others.
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