John Keating’s nimble, Irish-accented performance is well-suited for this critical appreciation of the legendary Celtic-punk band’s 1985 album.
Part of the 33 1/3 series, The Pogues' 'Rum, Sodomy & the Lash' looks at the Pogues’ second studio album, which was ranked among the top 500 albums of all time by Rolling Stone. Author Jeffrey T. Roesgen mixes his track-by-track discussion of the album with a fictional story, inspired by the album artwork, of a disastrous sea journey to Africa.
Keating alternates between a steady expository tone in the book’s critical passages and a more expansive, dramatic voice in narrative passages and descriptions of the ocean.
To absorb Rum, Sodomy, & the Lash is to be taken on a wild voyage with a cast of downtrodden revolutionaries. Despite this notion, the epic themes of the Pogues' second full length record have been overlooked by both critics and biographers in favor of two things: the band's penchant for combining Celtic folk with punk rhythms ("the sound") and the excesses of Shane MacGowan ("the creator"). Instead of reiterating these aspects, this book discusses, in the form of a sea-faring narrative, the record's articulation of what it is found to be magnificently trodden. Through epic imagery gracing the cover of the album and reverberating throughout the lyrics, Roesgen's book shows that what the Pogues created is far more than pub-room music created by drunken men wallowing in Irish nostalgia and pining for something subversive.