Hell's Ditch

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Hell's Ditch
Hell's Ditch.jpg
Studio album by The Pogues
Released 6 November 1990
Genre Celtic rock, folk rock
Length 41:24
Label Island
Producer Joe Strummer
The Pogues chronology
Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah
(1990)Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah1990
Hell's Ditch
The Best of The Pogues
(1991)String Module Error: Match not found1991
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[1]

Hell's Ditch is the fifth full-length album by The Pogues, and the last to feature frontman Shane MacGowan as a member. It was released in 1990. It continued the group's slow departure from Irish music, giving more emphasis to rock and straight folk rock, and forsaking their earlier staples of traditional compositions almost entirely. MacGowan parted with the band after the release of the album, owing to the decline of his reliability as a performer, which was caused by his abuse of alcohol and drugs.

Several of the songs on the album have Asian themes, in sound or in content, notably "Summer in Siam", "The House of Gods" and "Sayonara"—although only the latter has a noticeably far-eastern tune. The song "Lorca's Novena" draws on MacGowan's affinity for Spain (particularly Almería, which he had discovered years earlier when filming Straight to Hell), and the famous Spanish poet Federico García Lorca. It tells of the poet's murder by Francisco Franco's Nationalist supporters in the Spanish Civil War, and how his body, never having been recovered, was said to have walked away. "The Wake of the Medusa" is a first-person narrative inspired by Théodore Géricault's painting "The Raft of the Medusa", which had appeared on the cover of the band's second album, Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash. The title track is based largely on the life and writings of French author and playwright Jean Genet, in particular The Miracle of the Rose and Our Lady of the Flowers,[2] with its vulgar description of squalid prison life.

The album was produced by The Clash's Joe Strummer, who later served as a temporary replacement for MacGowan when the band went on tour. The cover-art for the album was designed by Josh Shoes.[3]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Sunny Side of the Street" (Shane MacGowan, Jem Finer) – 2:44
  2. "Sayonara" (MacGowan) – 3:07
  3. "The Ghost of a Smile" (MacGowan) – 2:58
  4. "Hell's Ditch" (MacGowan, Finer) – 3:03
  5. "Lorca's Novena" (MacGowan) – 4:40
  6. "Summer in Siam" (MacGowan) – 4:06
  7. "Rain Street" (MacGowan) – 4:00
  8. "Rainbow Man" (Terry Woods) – 2:46
  9. "The Wake of the Medusa" (Finer) – 3:04
  10. "House of the Gods" (MacGowan) – 3:46
  11. "5 Green Queens & Jean" (MacGowan, Finer) – 2:35
  12. "Maidrin Rua" (Traditional) – 1:47
  13. "Six to Go" (Woods) – 2:58

Bonus tracks (2005 reissue)[edit]

  1. "Whiskey in the Jar" (Traditional) – 2:41
  2. "The Bastard Landlord" (Finer) – 3:09
  3. "Infinity" (MacGowan) – 2:48
  4. "The Curse of Love" (Finer) – 2:43
  5. "Squid Out of Water" (MacGowan) – 3:47
  6. "Jack's Heroes" (Woods, Spider Stacy) – 3:06
  7. "A Rainy Night in Soho" (1991 version) (MacGowan) – 4:48


The Pogues
  • Josh Shoes – cover art

Hell's Ditch demos[edit]

The Hell's Ditch demos (commonly known as the Falconer demos, after the studio in which they were tracked) were recorded prior to this album. "Murder Ska" and "Redemption Song" are both unreleased tracks featuring Spider Stacy on lead vocals. "Victoria" and "Lust for Vomit" are both instrumental versions of songs that later appeared on Shane MacGowan and the Popes' 1995 debut album The Snake, the latter retitled "A Mexican Funeral in Paris". "NW3" is an early version of "Mother Mo Chroi", which was released on MacGowan's second solo effort, 1997's The Crock of Gold.

"NW3" and "Murder Ska" were played live as early as 1988 but never properly recorded. A studio version of "NW3" was recorded for inclusion on Hell's Ditch, but MacGowan was unable to deliver a satisfactory vocal performance, thus leaving the track as an unfinished instrumental.

The Falconer demos are widely available on the Internet, and unlicensed copies occasionally surface on the online auction site eBay. They also appear on the Pogues box set of rare and unreleased material released by Rhino Entertainment on 17 March 2008.

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Murder Ska"
  2. "Ghost of a Smile"
  3. "Bastard Landlord"
  4. "Summer in Siam"
  5. "Wake of the Medusa"
  6. "NW3"
  7. "Victoria"
  8. "Redemption Song"
  9. "Lust for Vomit"
  10. "Five Green Queens & Jean"


  1. ^ Hell's Ditch - The Pogues | AllMusic
  2. ^ "The Parting Glass: Hell's Ditch". Poguetry.com. Retrieved 2012-02-21. 
  3. ^ Hasagawa, Mariah. "Joe Strummer: Putting a Scare Into The Hearts of All Things Corporate". Post-Global 2002 CRCRadio.net. Archived from the original on 19 August 2002. Retrieved 22 December 2010.