Another addition to Rhino/Warner's popular and economical, but actually often flawed Original Album Series, which pulls 5 albums from a single artist together into a very compact 5CD box-set. This effort draws the spotlight on The Pogues, a rowdy Anglo-Irish act, who in their 1980s pomp were led by rock-and-roll survivor Shane MacGowan. At their best the group matched the tuneful spirit of traditional Irish folk to an aggressive punk attitude, in a manner that suggested a marvellous cross between The Clancy Brothers and The Clash. That point is proven by the well-liked trio of Red Roses For Me, Rum, Sodomy & The Lash, and If I Should Fall From Grace With God, that provide the majority of the material here.
But the bank of goodwill built up by that bunch is diminished by a number of problems. Though it covers the large majority of their distinctly uneven back catalogue it shouldn't be regarded as anywhere near comprehensive. Some of The Pogues' best work from that period - such as their boisterous collaboration with their musical soul-mates The Dubliners and their very good EP Poguetry In Motion - does not feature here. Whilst the pecuniary argument which is often invoked in Original Albums Series favour is weakened a bit on this occasion by the fact that the last 2 albums in this collection - the experimental Peace and Love and the tired-sounding Hell's Ditch - aren't actually all that good. The fiddly miniature cardboard sleeves that each CD comes in doesn't capture the playful elements in the group's cover art at all well either. For instance, you can barely see that on Rum, Sodomy & The Lash members' faces have been superimposed into a painting by Théodore Géricault; nor is it easy to discern that the band are sitting in front of a picture of United States president John F. Kennedy on the dingy-looking Red Roses For Me.