Is it now a prerequisite that all Irish folk melodies have to be so god damn catchy? Shane MacGowan, err, The Pogues are a living testament that drunken Irish kin are responsible for some of the most dance worthy, catchy as hell melodies to ever grace the surface of popular music. Ironically, their image is somewhat the epitome of the opposing image to pop culture. In a world where image accounts for nearly all success, the Pogues have rebelled against that with ugliness, alcoholism, and pure drunken Irish energy. Opposing pop culture has meant nothing to the band, and for good reason- They are not arrogant. If people buy their records, more power to them. If they hate the band, the band responds with nothing more than �*** you.� Dirty Old Town, a compilation released by The Pogues as of recent, encompasses a lot of the Pogues� commercial successes with aplomb. Covering all their famous material from Rum, Sodomy and The Lash, to Red Roses For Me, and If I Should Fall From Grace With God, Dirty Old Town owes as much gratitude to the Chieftains and the Dubliners as it does to Guinness Draught. The melodic qualities of the Pogues combine all the raw energy found in local pubs with the swaggering, cheery Irish folk. Dirty Old Town exemplifies that.
I�d like to get things started by saying right off the bat, that Shane MacGowan is not the only good thing about the Pogues. Yes, he is a fantastic songwriter. He does have a very cool voice, and his lyrics are very fun, but he isn�t the sole benefactor behind the band. The other members (of course, this being a very hypocritical statement, being that I do not know the other band members� names) display their songwriting capabilities and musical endowment adequately throughout the band�s career. That is the first flaw that is found in Dirty Old Town. Nearly every song found on the compilation was either written or sung by Shane MacGowan. Possibly the only exception to the vocal portion of that is I�m A Man You Don�t Meet Every Day, where the vocal duties are occupied by Sinead O�Connor, and Young Ned of the Hill. Regardless of the flaw of not including songs written by anyone else besides McGowan, Dirty Old Town is a very enjoyable compilation, utilizing the strong points of most of the Pogues� better albums. The albums seem to be represented in an organized fashion, being categorized by time period and album, e.g., Rum Sodomy and the Lash begins the album, and the sound develops further through the years.
While each album is represented in a very nicely presented fashion, the compilation lacks some of the Pogues� best songs, and is a very fatal mistake to the value of the album. Sick Bed of Chuchulainn and Medley were two of the finest songs in their catalogue, and yet, both go unaccounted for on the compilation. The focus also lays too heavily on the band�s two biggest albums (Rum Sodomy and the Lash/ If I Should Fall From Grace With God). Yet Dirty Old Town includes most of the band�s classic jangles and still provides an enjoyable hour long listen. The melodies encompassed within the Pogues� music are possibly some of the best I have heard within the Celtic sound. The majority of their music possesses a very upbeat, drunken sound, with a catchy hook that will easily get a barroom full of ***faced people completely wound up. The likes of every folk instrument play a vital role in leading their melodies. Banjo, mandolin, accordion, and tin whistle all are the core to the Pogues� sound. Yet no matter how rowdy and boisterous their music may be, the band knows how to write a very good ballad. Thousands Are Sailing, from �If I Should Fall�� is Shane McGowan�s greatest narrative from the album. Balkan traditionalism is captured with Turkish Song of the Damned, a catchy number that could easily pass for the theme song to Aladdin. And a glorious saxophone solo on Gridlock keeps the Pogues true to jazz. To make a long story short, The Pogues� music may not be the most diversified, yet it seems to never get tedious, and will never leave you in a bad mood. To top that off, when they decide to mix it up, the results are even better. Simply put, the best lift up music ever.
Unless you hold a grudge toward compilations, (mostly because a lot of them are terrible) you will not find Dirty Old Town to be considered a bad record. Flawed, it may be, but nothing that keeps it short of being a fun listen and a good spirit lifter. So, to keep this review concise- It�s nice to listen to, but isn�t anything too different from any of their other albums. The choice of whether to buy it or not is really dependent entirely on impulse.