The Popes Featuring Shane MacGowan - Outlaw Heaven

Perhaps not the audience we’ve been expecting

MacGowan’s name on the sleeve
may mislead some fans, as this
is not the long-awaited new
project The Pogues’ frontman is
rumoured to be unveiling at some
point this year. Instead, it’s an
offering by his other old band, on
which Shane weighs in for just
three songs, with less than
satisfying results.

Guitarist and latterly lead
singer Paul McGuiness has
regrouped with different
personnel from 2000’s
Holloway Boulevard and, while
there are still strong Celtic
motifs throughout, the
dominant sound owes more to
another group of Irish legends,
Thin Lizzy. Songs such as the
title track, Bastards and
Loneliness Of A Long Distance
Drinker (coincidentally the three
featuring Shane’s now near
incomprehensible vocals) are
inspired by MacGuiness’s own
battles with drink and drugs and
a short spell in prison; full of
rebel ferocity but ultimately
suffering from a lack of focus.

The banjo-led country of
Back In Your Heart owes a debt
to Van Morrison and provides
welcome respite from the
ramshackle noise of most of the
album, which may well be better
suited to a live setting. What
MacGowan himself can deliver,
supposedly in tandem with
erstwhile Pogues bassist Cait
O’Riordan, remains to be seen.

2 stars 2 stars

Shake The Trees | tbc

Reviewed by Terry Staunton
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