One of the many fun aspects for me of working on this series is not just discovering some albums that I'd never really heard before, but falling in love again with records that were a big part of my life some time ago.
Jeff Roesgen's manuscript for his book on Rum, Sodomy & the Lash, which we'll be publishing in the second half of this year, has me falling ass over tit for this album - so much so that if you held a musket to my head today and asked me to name my favourite record of all time, I'd cheerfully nominate this one.
A third of Jeff's book documents the making of the album, with input from all of the Pogues except Shane and Cait. The other two thirds, woven through the narrative, place the band on board The Medusa as she makes her fateful voyage from France to Senegal. It's a remarkably effective technique. I'd always thought of this record as a product of the post-punk politics of 1980s England and Ireland - but by placing the band in the early 19th Century with a surrounding cast of soldiers, officers, navvies, as well as profoundly incompetent members of the ruling class, Roesgen highlights the extraordinary achievement of the Pogues on this album. It's a glorious celebration of the underdog, of the destitute and the downtrodden.
Below is the great painting by Gericault, that the band adapted for the album cover.
And here's a very short fan clip of "I'm a Man You Don't Meet Every Day" from a 2004 Brixton Academy show, which should send shivers down your spine, if you have one.