With St. Patrick's Day creeping up on the calendar, I could not wait to share a few rare ska and reggae songs that The Pogues are famous for playing as part of their varied live and recorded sets over the years.
There is a strong musical, cultural and social connection between Jamaica and Ireland. The connection is even closer than that, as England shipped many Irish political prisoners to the West Indies to work as indentured servants in the last 1600's. As their terms of servitude finished, many of these Irish workers stayed in Barbados and Jamaica, infusing the local culture and music with their own traditions. The legacy of the Irish is still seen in Jamaican towns and neighborhoods with Irish names, such as Dublin Castle, Irish Pen, Irish town, Sligoville, Kildare, Leinster Road and Belfast. The Irish connection in Jamaica goes beyond the names of places. Similarities can be found in a shared history of colonial domination and the achievement of independence in the same century.
From a ska perspective, I've always thought there were parallels between The Pogues and The Specials, both musically and politically speaking. Where The Specials played ska shot through with punk, The Pogues (in the early days at least) played Irish folk shot through with punk. At the very least, the two bands have shown their mutual appreciation for one another by performing covers of the others most well know songs.
So, without further ado, I bring you the best of The Pogues performing ska and reggae!
The Pogues with Lynval Golding Live at the Town & Country in London on St. Patrick's Day, 1988.
Members of The Specials including Roddy Byers and Lynval Golding returned the favor by recording The Pogues 'Dirty Old Town' on their mid 90's cover album 'Today's Specials.'
The Pogues also performed Culture's reggae classic 'I'm Alone In The Wilderness' taken from the band's "Just Look Them Straight in the Eye" Box-Set.
The Pogues have also been know to perform a 2-Tone ska version of their anti-Thatcher song 'Murder':
Finally, check out The Pogues forray into dub reggae (which is quite excellent!) on their own 'Young Ned Of The Hill':
If you like what you hear and want to own a few of these rare classics on vinyl in time for St. Pat's, then head over to the Jump Up Records website and grab a copy of 'The Celtic Ska EP' which is one of many places you can purchase the record.