Rum Sodomy & the Lash

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For the book by Anthony Blackmore, see Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash (book).
Rum Sodomy & the Lash
Rum sodomy and the lash.jpg
Studio album by The Pogues
Released 5 August 1985
Recorded Elephant Studios, London
Genre Celtic punk, folk punk, Celtic rock, folk rock
Length 42:55
Label Stiff (UK & Europe)
MCA (US & Canada)
Producer Elvis Costello;
Philip Chevron (track 7)
The Pogues chronology
Red Roses for Me
Rum, Sodomy & the Lash
Poguetry in Motion
Singles from Rum Sodomy & the Lash
  1. "A Pair of Brown Eyes"
    Released: 18 March 1985
  2. "Sally MacLennane"
    Released: 10 June 1985
  3. "Dirty Old Town"
    Released: 19 August 1985

Rum, Sodomy & the Lash is the second studio album by the London-based folk punk band The Pogues, released on 5 August 1985.[1]

The album's title is taken from a quotation attributed[2] to Winston Churchill:[3] "Don't talk to me about naval tradition. It's nothing but rum, sodomy, and the lash." The title was suggested by drummer Andrew Ranken, who said "it seemed to sum up life in our band".[3] The cover artwork is based on The Raft of the Medusa, a painting by Théodore Géricault, with the band members' faces replacing those of the men on the raft painted by the artist and illustrator Peter Mennim.[4]

The album reached number 13 in the UK charts. The track "A Pair of Brown Eyes", based on an older Irish tune, went on to reach number 72 in the UK singles chart. "The Old Main Drag" later appeared on the soundtrack to the film My Own Private Idaho. A remastered and expanded version of Rum, Sodomy & the Lash was released on 11 January 2005. The cut "A Pistol for Paddy Garcia", and the B-side of "Dirty Old Town", which only appeared on the initial cassette release, was moved to the bonus tracks. A poem by Tom Waits was also added to the expanded release.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[6]
The Austin Chronicle 4/5 stars[7]
Mojo 5/5 stars[8]
Q 5/5 stars[9]
Record Mirror 4/5 stars[10]
Sounds 4.5/5 stars[11]
Spin 4/5 stars[12]
Sputnikmusic 4.5/5[13]
Uncut 5/5 stars[14]
The Village Voice A[15]

Rum Sodomy & the Lash received positive reviews from critics. Melody Maker said, "The brightest, most intense moments of Rum... aren't about particularities of style or delivery. This is, apart from anything else, music to hang on to other people by to stave off brutal fact and the weight of history. While The Pogues make music for drunks as well, probably, as anyone has they're also dragging an oft-ignored folk tradition into the daylight with an altogether improbable potency... Rum... has soul, if not a great deal of innovation, and somewhere among the glasses and the ashtrays lie a few home truths."[16] Sounds believed "Rum Sodomy & the Lash is the finest slice of story-telling your heart could wish for".[11] NME described the record as "a collection of free-ranging stuff to be sure; from the funereal folk ballad to the near spaghetti-western instrumental, raucous celebration to brown study, cheerful melody to downright strangeness. It's never sentimental, it's rarely polite, and it's certainly not ordinary... Rum Sodomy and the Lash is more than the best record The Pogues could be expected to make at this time. It's more than a brilliant example of a band using its resources in an imaginative manner. It's probably the best LP of 1985."[17]

Mark Deming of Allmusic awarded the album four and a half out of five stars and said that it "falls just a bit short of being the Pogues' best album, but was the first one to prove that they were a great band, and not just a great idea for a band."[6] Robert Christgau gave the album an A and said that "none of it would mean much without the songs—some borrowed, some traditional, and some proof that MacGowan can roll out bitter blarney with the best of his role models."[15] Daniel Bristow of the Irish music website CLUAS awarded the album an eight out of ten, calling it "a record that will never cease to delight, always a pleasure to hear and highly, highly recommended if you're not familiar with it already".[5] Q described the record as "a proud, defiant bruise of an album that manages to be both profoundly bleak and immoderately romantic and it remains MacGowan's and The Pogues' finest hour".[9]


In 2000 Q placed it at number 93 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. In 2003, the album was ranked number 445 on Rolling Stone's The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list. Pitchfork Media named it the 67th best album of the 1980s.[18]

Track listing[edit]

Side one[edit]

  1. "The Sick Bed of Cúchulainn" (Shane MacGowan) – 2:59
  2. "The Old Main Drag" (MacGowan) – 3:19
  3. "Wild Cats of Kilkenny" (MacGowan, Jem Finer) – 2:48
  4. "I'm a Man You Don't Meet Every Day" (Traditional) – 2:55
  5. "A Pair of Brown Eyes" (MacGowan) – 4:54
  6. "Sally MacLennane" (MacGowan) – 2:43

Side two[edit]

  1. "Dirty Old Town" (Ewan MacColl) – 3:45
  2. "Jesse James" (Traditional) – 2:58
  3. "Navigator" (Phil Gaston) – 4:12
  4. "Billy's Bones" (MacGowan) – 2:02
  5. "The Gentleman Soldier" (Traditional) – 2:04
  6. "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" (Eric Bogle) – 8:10

Outtake "A Pistol for Paddy Garcia" was added as a bonus track on subsequent cassette and CD issues between Sally MacLennane and Dirty Old Town.

2004 CD release[edit]

  1. "The Sick Bed of Cúchulainn" (MacGowan) – 2:59
  2. "The Old Main Drag" (MacGowan) – 3:19
  3. "Wild Cats of Kilkenny" (MacGowan, Finer) – 2:48
  4. "I'm a Man You Don't Meet Every Day" (Traditional) – 2:55
  5. "A Pair of Brown Eyes" (MacGowan) – 4:54
  6. "Sally MacLennane" (MacGowan) – 2:43
  7. "Dirty Old Town" (MacColl) – 3:45
  8. "Jesse James" (Traditional) – 2:58
  9. "Navigator" (Gaston) – 4:12
  10. "Billy's Bones" (MacGowan) – 2:02
  11. "The Gentleman Soldier" (Traditional) – 2:04
  12. "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" (Bogle) – 8:10
  13. "A Pistol for Paddy Garcia" (Finer) – 2:31
  14. "London Girl" (MacGowan) – 3:05*
  15. "Rainy Night in Soho" (MacGowan) – 5:36*
  16. "Body of an American" (MacGowan) – 4:49*
  17. "Planxty Noel Hill" (Finer) – 3:12*
  18. "The Parting Glass" (Traditional) – 2:14

*Tracks previously released on the EP Poguetry in Motion


The Pogues:

Additional personnel:


  1. ^ "Pogues Tour". Melody Maker (London, England: IPC Media): 3. 10 August 1985. 
  2. ^ Manchester, William. "The Last Lion: Volume 1: Winston Churchill: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932. Little, Brown, & Company. 
  3. ^ a b Hurt, Andy (17 August 1985). "A Whip Round with the Pogues". Sounds (London, England: Spotlight Publications): 18–19. 
  4. ^ "Rum Sodomy & the Lash - Credits on MSN Music". Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  5. ^ a b "Album Reviews | The Pogues 'Rum, Sodomy and The Lash'". CLUAS. Retrieved 2012-01-07. 
  6. ^ a b Deming, Mark. "Rum Sodomy & the Lash – The Pogues". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  7. ^ Gray, Christopher (15 December 2006). "Red Roses for Me, Rum, Sodomy & the Lash, If I should Fall From Grace With God, Peace and Love, Hell's Ditch". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 10 August 2015. 
  8. ^ Gilbert, Pat (December 2004). "Review: The Pogues – Rum Sodomy & the Lash". Mojo (London, England: EMAP) (133): 123. 
  9. ^ a b Cooper, Mark (June 1994). "Review: The Pogues – Rum Sodomy & the Lash". Q (London, England: EMAP) (93): 134–35. 
  10. ^ Strickland, Andy (10 August 1985). "Review: The Pogues – Rum Sodomy & the Lash". Record Mirror (London, England: Spotlight Publications): 17. 
  11. ^ a b Simon, Jane (10 August 1985). "Review: The Pogues – Rum Sodomy & the Lash". Sounds (London, England: Spotlight Publications): 28. 
  12. ^ Dolan, Jon (October 2006). "Reissues". Spin 22 (10): 104. Retrieved 10 August 2015. 
  13. ^ Med57 (18 March 2006). "The Pogues – Rum Sodomy & the Lash". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 10 August 2015. 
  14. ^ Wilde, Jon (December 2004). "Keeping it reel". Uncut (91). 
  15. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (11 March 1986). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 10 August 2015. 
  16. ^ Sweeting, Adam (10 August 1985). "Review: The Pogues – Rum Sodomy & the Lash". Melody Maker (London, England: IPC Media): 27. 
  17. ^ Quantick, David (10 August 1985). "Review: The Pogues – Rum Sodomy & the Lash". NME (London, England: IPC Media): 26. 
  18. ^ "Staff Lists: Top 100 Albums of the 1980s | Features". Pitchfork. 2002-11-20. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  19. ^ "The Medusa Fora • View topic - The Star of the County Down?". Retrieved 2014-05-20. 

External links[edit]