Between 1984 and 1986, the Pogues released some of their best material: their 1984 debut Red Roses for Me and Rum Sodomy & the Lash, produced by Elvis Costello, which combined punk, traditional Irish music and classic rock.
A new box set, The Pogues: The BBC Sessions 1984 – 1986, collects the extensive live recordings the band made for the BBC during that time.
The set, out released on October 30th, will feature 23 tracks from six separate live sessions, including appearances on shows by John Peel, David “Kid” Jensen, Phil Kennedy and Janice Long. It’s full of classics, from Shane MacGowan’s moving ballads (“A Pair of Brown Eyes,” “The Auld Triangle”) to raucous punk jams (“Sally MacLennane,” “If I Should Fall From Grace with God”).
The first set of performances, taken from a Peel appearance from 1984, capture the band when they were still called Pogue Mahone. They had recently supported the Clash on tour and signed to the punk label Stiff.
In 1988, the Pogues released If I Should Fall From Grace With God, which included “Fairytale of New York,” a duet with the late Kirsty MacColl. It became their biggest song and the most-played Christmas song of the 21st Century in the U.K.
In 1991, MacGowan left the Pogues and Joe Strummer stepped in on vocals. MacGowan returned in 2001, and the band continued performing live, but they did not release any new material. “I went back with Pogues and we grew to hate each other all over again,” he told Vice in 2015. Asked if the band were active, MacGowan said, “We’re not, no.”
Check out a 1984 version of “Sally MacLennane” from the collection.