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Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
14
Hell's Ditch
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 21 April 2017
Not their best but some classics nonetheless. Enjoy the Thailand references as one of my favourite destinations. I married one which helps. Though no wish to go to Pattaya. Singha beer yes.
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on 2 March 2016
pleased with it
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on 22 March 2015
Took a few listens, but now can't stop playing it!
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on 14 March 2006
I have all the Pogues albums and this is simply my favourite. It depends how you like your Pogues - if you like them rough, rowdy and catchy, go for an earlier album. Although I like the rowdy stuff (and there is still plenty of it on this album), for me the genius of the Pogues is the amazing melodies and lyrics that Shane can suddenly hit you with and completely disarm you.
For me, this is the melodic and lyrical high point, with Shane finding new inspiration (and even contentment) in the Far East. The genius of the album is that there is a Far Eastern dreamlike quality but it isn't at all contrived - Shane has just absorbed it effortlessly. For me the album shows a whole different side to the band.
27 people found this helpful
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on 20 February 2015
It's not their best album, but it's not their worst either. The bonus tracks on this album are brilliant though, so don't get the ordinary released version.
One person found this helpful
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on 27 September 2014
brilliant
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on 15 August 2015
Top seller.
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on 4 February 2013
Bought this as a Christmas present for my sister-in-law as it was on her wish list! Cannot make any further comment but it seems very good.
One person found this helpful
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TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 9 April 2014
Whilst failing to recapture the glory days of `If I should fall...' , the last time Shane McGowan formally recorded with The Pogues is by universal consent a big improvement on the rather lamentable `Peace and Love'.

The band is tight, the songs better. `Sunny Side of the Street' bounces along with a catchy refrain, and `Rain Street' is maybe the album's stand-out track. Thailand made a profound impression on McGowan: `Summer in Siam' captures the mood of the SE Asian country to perfection, the hard-edged cynicism so often prevalent in his songs completely absent and replaced by a languid tropical bliss. `Sayonara' and `House of Gods' continue the oriental theme, endowing `Hell's Ditch' with a warmth absent from other Pogues records.

The sound of the album is very good, a result usually attributed to producer Joe Strummer. Following `Hell's Ditch' The Pogues continued to perform (punctuated by long periods absent from the scene) but rarely fronted again by McGowan, marking out these recordings a kind of last-hurrah of a great 1980s phenomenon.
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on 25 July 2012
In accordionist James Fearnley's recent Pogues biography 'Here Comes Everybody', the recording of Hells Ditch seems to have been such a difficult, heart-breaking experience that you can understand why this record hardly ever seems to be mentioned by the band. According to Fearnley the relationship between the Pogues (by now a water tight, virtuoso unit) and lead singer/songwriter Shane Macgowan was all but dead. Macgowan turned up to recording drunk, if he turned up at all, slurring the words of the songs, and then disappearing again. So why is Hells Ditch so brilliant?

First and foremost, this is Macgowan's last hurrah. He provides 9 songs for the album (including co-writes) and each is an absolute winner. 'The Sunny Side of the Street', 'Sayonara' and 'Rain Street' are among the finest songs on the bands career. Then there is the beautiful, dream like 'Summer In Siam'. Like nothing the band had recorded before. 'Lorca's Novena' is a heartfelt tribute to Federico Garcia Lorca which lyrically and musically links back perhaps to the 'Straight to Hell' soundtrack that both The Pogues and Joe Strummer contributed to, as well as starring in the movie. 'The House of the Gods' is a joyful pop song, albeit a thinly veiled plea to tell the rest of The Pogues to leave him alone. "I've found a place that you'll never reach, sipping Singha beer on Pataya Beach". It's not quite Macgowan's 'Should I stay or Should I Go' but it's not far off.

The second reason this is such a brilliant album is the musicianship of the rest of the Pogues. By this stage they're such a good band that they blend together perfectly on every song. Check out the instrumental Maidrin Rua (trans. Little Red Dog, a tradional symbol of Irish rebellion). This was just a jam of a traditional Irish song that Strummer got down on tape. You can even hear the band tuning up at the start of the song. It's a strange and pretty wonderful highlight of the album. It's perhaps the only 'Irish' moment on the record. This lack of Irishness seems to be another reason why people have dismissed Hells Ditch in the past. But that completely ignores the diversity and invention of previous Pogues albums.

Last and by no means least Hell's Ditch is a great album thanks to producer Joe Strummer. Whereas previous album Love and Peace is overblown, over produced, and over played, Hell's Ditch is direct, organic, full of life. According to Fearnley, Joe Strummer was massively enthusiastic at the sessions. Dressed in Stetson, sleeping at the studio, he got The Pogues to play football round the back of the studio, building the camaraderie in the same way The Clash had done for the recording of London Calling. No one believed in The Pogues more than Joe Strummer. Indeed when Macgowan bowed out shortly after completing the album and they needed a singer who should step up to the plate?
2 people found this helpful
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