Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Pogues: Rum Sodomy and the Lash [Stiff, 1985]
"And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" comes from Australian folkie Eric Bogle, one of the least commanding singers in any hemisphere you care to name, but its tale of Gallipoli is long as life and wicked as sin and Shane MacGowan never lets go of it for a second: he tests the flavor of each word before spitting it out. I associate this technique with producer Elvis Costello, who probably deserves credit as well for the album's clear, simple musical shape. But none of it would mean much without the songs--some borrowed, some traditional, and some proof that MacGowan can roll out bitter blarney with the best of his role models. Try "The Old Main Drag," about Irish lads tricking, or "The Sick Bed of Cuchulain," about Irish heroes dying. A