An officer rushed over to our group. He stood before Spider, rigid and ornate, and nodded to the bags and cases at our feet.
"Musicians" said Spider, releasing Shane.
The officer winced and brought up a collection of papers he'd rolled behind his back. He squinted at it. "Your name?"
The officer made his eyes slender. "Pogue Mahone?" He fiddled with the sparse whiskers on his chin.
"A Gaelic expression"
"Kiss my arse" Spider shot back.
The officer widened his eyes and poised his head above the group.
We were quiet, looking to our feet. The officer shifted himself rigid. He looked to Spider. "Aboard this ship you will be Pogues".
The album sleeve of The Pogues' Rum, Sodomy and the Lash, features the band members sat aboard a raft full of desperate castaways. The picture is based on a real painting by Theodore Gericault called Le Radeau de la Muduse which hangs in the Louvre, and captures the true story of sailors, soldiers and passengers of the shipwrecked Medusa who were turned loose on the open sea by the ship's officers.
Taking the cover and the nautical theme of the album as inspiration, American author, Jeffrey Roesgen, winds the story back to the band getting on the ship with their instruments and follows it through until they're grasping onto the raft through "unrelenting heat" and "torrents of waves", while men suck on wood and cloth for food, or eat the flesh of the dead to survive.
Dotted throughout the horrific tale, Roesgen gives insights into each album track, with Dirty Old Town, made famous to a wider than folk audience by The Pogues, getting its own chapter as the Medusa sails through a storm, due west of Maderia.
The chapter begins `For every person who wants to return home, there's another who wants to escape it'. Enter Salford, and the article that Ewan MacColl's wife, Peggy Seeger, wrote for the Salford Star a couple of years ago about Dirty Old Town not being particularly negative about his home city….
"We'll chop you down like an old dead tree"
"Peggy Seeger asserts that when he wrote these lines, MacColl was perhaps speaking of improving Salford for its native inhabitants rather than simply destroying it" writes Roesgen "In The Pogues performance…we have little trouble seeing Shane, with spite seething from his lips, wielding his axe like a banshee, hacking his dismal town to splinters"
But anyone who read Peggy's original piece in the Star also knows that Ewan hated The Pogues' version of Dirty Old Town, and reckoned Shane couldn't sing…Whatever, it's top to see Salford Star feature in the band's history. But even without the mag's mention, this pocket sized, take-on-holiday, historical and musical mix of fact, fiction and nautical friction is well recommended. You can smell The Pogues through the writing…
331/3 RUM SODOMY AND LASH by Jeffrey T.Roesgen (Continuum)
Find it on Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Pogues-Rum-Sodomy-Lash-33/dp/0826429165/ref=pd_sim_b_1
You can buy issue 4 of Salford Star with Ewan MacColl on the cover, Peggy Seeger's original article and much more by clicking on Shop at the top of the page