This set collects the seven studio albums from 1984′s Red Roses For Me to Pogue Mahone from 1996 and adds a previously unreleased live album The Pogues with Joe Strummer Live In London (recorded in December 1991). There have been Pogues reissues before of course, notably in 2004 when the albums were re-released on CD with bonus tracks. Rhino also issued an Original Album Series collection in 2009 that brought together the five Shane MacGowan albums in the usual card slipcase packaging. So while in some ways 30 Years treads familiar ground, there is still much to recommend it. First off the band were involved in the project, and were keen to have their say. The decision to revert back to ‘just’ the albums and lose the 2004 bonus tracks was theirs, for instance. Another example of the band’s input was the cover design of the box. The literary types amongst you might notice that the typesetting and design is ‘inspired by’ an edition of James Joyce’s landmark work Ulysses.
The most comprehensive collection of Pogues material to date, 30:30 - The Essential Collection arrived on the heels of the band's 30th anniversary. Comprised of material culled from 1984 to 1996 and representing each of the group's seven studio albums, the two-disc set offers up a winning mix of bona fide classics ("If I Should Fall from Grace with God," "A Pair of Brown Eyes," the contemporary Christmas standard "Fairytale of New York," and its less yuletide-centric kissing cousin "A Rainy Night in Soho") and fan favorites ("Rain Street," "Boys from the County Hell," "Misty Morning, Albert Bridge") that dutifully encapsulates the best of the band's "lost decade."
The Pogues are one of the great live acts of our time, but their concerts have been poorly documented on record. Streams of Whiskey is a re-release of a bootleg, Live on Rain Street, from a 1991 show in Switzerland. Typical for a bootleg, the sound is terrible and the performance is rough. The Pogues, who are planning an "official" live album from their reunion tour, are asking fans not to buy this: they weren't consulted on the release and aren't happy with the quality.
By demonstrating that the spirit of punk could live in traditional Irish folk music, the Pogues were one of the most radical bands of the mid-'80s. Led by Shane MacGowan, whose slurred, incomprehensible voice often disguised the sheer poetry of his songs, the Pogues were undeniably political not only were many of their songs explicitly in favor of working-class liberalism, but the wild, careening sound of their punk-injected folk was implicitly radical. While the band was clearly radical, they also had a wickedly warped sense of humor, which was abundantly clear on their biggest hit, the fractured Christmas carol "Fairy Tale of New York." The group's first three albums Red Roses for Me, Rum Sodomy & the Lash, If I Should Fall From Grace With God were widely praised in both Britain and America, and by 1988 they had earned substantial cult followings in both countries.