RUM, SODOMY & THE LASH delivers on the brash promise of its predecessor, RED ROSES FOR ME, mixing the band's unique brand of traditional Irish instrumentation and composition with Shane MacGowan's timeless poetry. As the mythic introduction of the album's opener, "The Sickbed Of Cuchulainn" crashes into its heaving, breakneck-speed verse, RUM, SODOMY & THE LASH is a hurtling juggernaut of Celtic soul, fierce and unrelenting. Its lyrics are the very stuff of Irish song and story: cruelty, human suffering, poverty-- and more than a few whiskeys along the way.
Produced by none other than Elvis Costello (who here met his future wife, bassist Cait O'Riordan), this album boasts a feel that is close-up enough to be intimidating. Though on slower numbers such as O'Riordan's enchanting take on the traditional "I'm A Man You don't Meet Every Day," this closeness perfectly captures the vulnerability of both song and singer. With lyrical references to drug addiction, vagrancy and prostitution ("The Old Main Drag"), MacGowan touches on themes usually left out of the Clancy Brothers' songbook. This frank, realistic and ultimately reverent take on the Irish musical tradition lends the Pogues a refreshing modernity.
Spin (p.104) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[S]ome of the purest toothless lyricism in punk-rock history."
Magnet (p.88) - "[The album] found the band grooming its folk/punk sound a bit, but with a subsequent leap forward in lyrical and thematic complexity."
Magnet (p.110) - "[O]ne of rock's most gleefully misanthropic albums, a catalog of the vilest, basest impulses in the human psyche....One of the few genuinely radical albums of the '80s."
Ranked #93 in Q's "100 Greatest British Albums" - "...Shane MacGowan articulated the aspirations and disappointments of the London Irish, fuelled by drink and despair....The Pogues were as tight as a metal band..."
Ranked #36 in Spin's "50 Most Essential Punk Records" - "...Shane MacGowan sees the Pistols, then decides jigs can tear shit up as good as Stooges riffs..."
Ranked #22 in NME's list of the `50 Greatest Albums Of The '80s.'
Ranked #86 in NME's list of the `Greatest Albums Of All Time.'
Ranked #79 in AP's list of the `Top 99 Of '85-'95' - "...RUM, SODOMY, AND THE LASH is equally a landmark punk record and an authentic Irish cultural document. With lovelorn drunks, bustling taverns, beautiful countrysides and misbegotten encounters with the law, MacGowan's songs here are practically lyrical poetry and tributes to Irish literary heroes such as James Joyce..."
5 stars out of 5 - "The crucial edge was still in place but their sound had expanded....A masterpiece? Absolutely."