. . .
I know that the conventional wisdom was that the Pogues probably peaked out with If I Should Fall From Grace With God or Rum, Sodomy & The Lash, I loved 1989’s Peace and Love nearly as much as the former and more than the latter.
And in fact, I loved Peace and Love so much that back in 1989, it was my favorite album of 1989, over such worthies as Freedom, Mekons Rock ‘n’ Roll, New York, The Stone Roses & Full Moon Fever, all of which I’d probably rate over it now.
But 30 years ago, there was something about the musical stew the Pogues were dishing out that was right up my alley — and in fact, it was probably my love for Peace and Love that lead to me writing about so many Pogues songs in Certain Songs — and you could hear how fucking tasty it was from the opening notes of “White City” — which kicked off the album proper after a jazz instrumental set the table.
With all of the instrumentalists in glorious lockstep, “White City” starts with a lovely, soaring riff that crashes into the song proper, during which Shane MacGowan starts singing about London, the scene for several songs on Peace and Love.
Here a tower shinning bright
Once stood gleaming in the night
Where now there’s just the rubble
In the hole here the paddies and the frogs
Came to gamble on the dogs
Came to gamble on the dogs not long ago
Oh the torn up ticket stubs
From a hundred thousand mugs
Now washed away with dead dreams in the rain
And the car-parks going up
And they’re pulling down the pubs
And its just another bloody rainy day
And then, instead of an actual chorus, they go into that grand glorious riff again and again, knowing exactly how catchy it was. And in fact, “White City” was released as a single, and didn’t do all that well in the U.K., but for me, it just set me up for whatever else The Pogues wanted to do for the rest of the album.
Video for “White City” (muddy sound, but different mix)
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