Tuesday, December 08, 2009

7" EXPLOSION - pt 16

Well, with Ireland cruelly cheated out of a spot at the 2010 World Cup, seems an apt time to show off the best World Cup single ever!

OK, it wasn't the 'official' Republic of Ireland tune for Italia '90, but it should have been. It's also the part of the series where my dad's generation's old records loop round and meet mine. THE POGUES / DUBLINERS' Jack's Heroes b/w Whisky in the Jar 7" came out shortly before Shane MacGowan's hardcore drugs'n'booze diet got him shoed out of the band, leading them to replace him with Joe Strummer (from my brother's generation - it's a virtual wormhole, this one...). The cartoon cover shows the Pogues and Dubliners leading a jubilant parade of the Irish diaspora, including Brendan Behan, Phil Lynott, the Pope ((yes,it's true!)), Elvis(!) and, er...a zombie eating a hamburger.

Italia '90 was Ireland's first World Cup and I was at still at school. A fair few people found the whole idea hysterical - oh, Ireland's got through? That'll be them back on the first plane home then. Certainly not getting through to the quarter finals, where Italy finally sunk them after they'd held off England, Egypt, Holland and Romania. Yes, that famous Romania penalty shoot-out...my mum nearly had a heart attack. Of course, then, we were informed by critics that Ireland weren't 'really' Ireland at all: an English manager, and a load of English players! The bigots knew how to dump the old if a dog's born in a stable, doesn't make it a horse theory when it suited them.

I also got a kicking during Italia '90, when me and another 'plastic' at school brought in a large tricolour. So, there you go. The BNP whinge about not being allowed to wave their Union Flags - but I actually got co-pounded for producing a bloody Irish one! What's more, me and my fellow 2nd gen comrade got detention for the fight that ensued.

World Cup '94 was slated as 'boring', 'trash', 'pointless' for two main reasons: 1) it was being hosted by the USA - and what do THEY know about bleedin' football? 2) England failed to qualify. But again, Ireland got through, so I ended up catching all the games. I really enjoyed that tournament. The USA put on a spectacle of pure overkill - majorettes, fireworks, jet bombers with COCA-COLA banners, Tina Turner parachuting onto the pitch and shagging an eagle, etc - and the bits of American coverage that leaked through were hilarious. Seeing Roberto Baggio's head, superimposed over a scarlet horizon and slowly revolving around, all over stirring strings and melodramatic piano riffs, while the presenter went full-blown Shakespearean in a Californian drawl, was a blast - especially when the coverage flicked back to Des Lynam, sitting in the BBC box, looking speechless. But that was the US - super-sized, gung ho, in yer face. This was their World Cup and they were damn proud of the fact, ma'am. No flimsy French 'pierrots on stilts' nonsense here, skip! I think Clinton even went to one match.

What I mostly remember about World Cup '94 was

* spending nearly every evening in Eddie's Bar, an Irish pub in Luton

* the Nigeria - Argentina game, where all the Nigerians kept diving - funny as fuck - within 10 minutes, about 3 players had been booked - you could see the Argentians just running around this flotsam of green shirts, sprawled out on the deck

* most of the Muslim kids in Luton were supporting Ireland. Wearing my FAI badge was considered 'cool'. However, a sizeable cache of the Muslim girls pledged their alliegance to Italy... for reasons that might piss off the average mullah, but which should be obvious to the rest of us

* John Aldridge going mental and shouting "YA FUCKIN'CHEAT!" live on TV, during the Ireland - Mexico game. My generation's 'Bill Grundy'

* Ray Houghton scoring that goal against Italy

* The fact that the US officials didn't have a frigging clue what they were doing


This single wasn't the first Pogues / Dubliners collaboration, however:

I was just gonna type "This is probably the best known Pogues single", though of course that'd have to be Fairytale of New York - I guess we're at the time of year when everyone whinges about having to hear that one night and day? Well, what you would rather listen to? Mistletoe and fucking Swine? Stop the Cavalry?? I'll 'BOM-A-BOM-A-BOM' you, ya fuckpig. As for that whole Facebook campaign to get Rage Against the Machine to number 1 this Xmas... what in Christ's crypt is going on? RATM were wank! It was bloody bad enough first time round - take it from someone who witnessed the fallout in an upstairs indie disco in Luton. RATM were the musical equivalent of those kids who go on anti-nazi marches and scream "FASCIST SCUM!" til their chops turn purple, but then shove their girlfriends to the ground to make a mad dash to the back of the march when a phalanx of facially-scarred psychopaths in bomber jackets appears on the horizon, blowing kisses and doing the old finger-across-the-throat routine. But, shit - what do I know?? I never put out an LP with a smouldering Buddhist on the cover. And I don't think I've ever issued the utterance "FUCK YOU, I WON'T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!" to anyone. I always found it easier to say, "Yeah, OK", then go and do the opposite anyway. If you get in trouble later on, blame it all on the Devil, that's my top tip. RATM almost make that spoilt brat James Dean look cool.

ANYWAY...here's the Pogues / Dubliners' 1987 rendition of the folk traditional The Irish Rover, about a doomed cargo ship and her misfit crew, b/w The Rare Old Mountain Dew, another trad number, about, as Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers once put it, The men who risked their lives in the hills of Ireland, making illegal booze.


Hang on a mo, just need to update my 'special list'. It was in this self-help book I got out of the library, won't take a minute. I'll stick it here so I don't forget it.


* Susan Fassbender's son
* Beyond the Implode (band)
* Susan Lawly / Relationship Academy
* God / Allah
* Cinestatic
* Wiccans
* Kevin Martin
* Balwinder Rana
* Mark Pownall
* RATM fans


Both of the 7"s above are good, but the one below is THE BEST.

From '86, on Stiff Records, about a year before they went completely overground, and when Cait O'Riordan was still in the group ((I don't know why, but every Pogues release she appeared on was near flawless)). Still, I know what I'm up against - old prejudices die hard and, to hundreds of thousands, the Pogues are just some tragic 'fiddle-de-dee' band that torments anyone with a workplace radio every December. I'm not going to try to convince you you're wrong, and that this is one of the greatest 7"s ever pressed - it's your life.

The first three tracks were reissued on CD compilations in the early 90s, but they sounded fairly different - a lot better produced and with more going on in the mix, which makes me wonder if Stiff botched the 7" pressing. But for all that, I still think these versions are the best. Personally, when I stick this on ((enough so that it's starting to attain a wall of crackle)) it's like hopping onto a time-tube-carriage, one with wooden floors (with dog ends stuck in the grooves), those donkey's bell-end strap-hangers and the mouldy blue/green seat designs, worn away with decades of boot and chewing gum damage. Back to 80s London, when it seemed whole segments of wasteland between Kings Cross and Camden had been commissioned by Hotpoint for landfill. You used to get so many knackered old white goods on the streets back then. So much junk and trash everywhere, and then the escalators at Kings X went up in a fireball.

From the speed-cajun psychogeography of London Girl, through a really muted, demo-like version of the bye-forever tearjerker Rainy Night in Soho, to the boisterous funeral wake punch-up of Body of an American and the instrumental Planxty Noel Hill, this is the sound of something lost in time, a world that doesn't seem to exist anymore. I'm personally glad that Shane MacGowan never ended up like Morrissey or Mark E Smith, mind you. I also wish I could remember to flick the switch to '33' every time I put this on.
i reckon the first two tracks on Poguetry are the best things they ever did. London Girl was TOTALLY under-rated.
Ain't that the truth brother!
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