Rum Sodomy & the Lash

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Rum Sodomy & the Lash
Rum sodomy and the lash.jpg
Studio album by
Released5 August 1985
RecordedElephant Studios, London
GenreCeltic punk, folk punk, new wave[1]
LabelStiff (UK & Europe)
MCA (US & Canada)
ProducerElvis 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.[2] The album reached number 13 in the UK charts. The track "A Pair of Brown Eyes", based on an older Irish tune, reached number 72 in the UK singles chart. "The Old Main Drag" later appeared on the soundtrack to the film My Own Private Idaho.

Album title[edit]

The album's title is taken from a quotation attributed[3] to Winston Churchill:[4] "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".[4]

Album cover[edit]

The cover artwork painted by Peter Mennim is based on The Raft of the Medusa, a Romantic-era painting by Theodore Géricault, with the band members' faces replacing those of the men on the raft.[5]

Critical reception and accolades[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[6]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[7]
The Irish Times5/5 stars[8]
Mojo5/5 stars[9]
Q5/5 stars[10]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[11]
Sounds4.5/5 stars[12]
Spin4/5 stars[13]
Uncut5/5 stars[14]
The Village VoiceA[15]

Rum Sodomy & the Lash received positive reviews from critics. Melody Maker's Adam Sweeting 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' Jane Simon called Rum Sodomy & the Lash "the finest slice of story-telling your heart could wish for".[12] David Quantick of 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] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice wrote 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]

In a retrospective review, Mark Deming of AllMusic stated that Rum Sodomy & the Lash "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] 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".[18] 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".[10] Uncut's Jon Wilde wrote that "the most startling thing about their second album was the steep ascendancy of MacGowan's songwriting",[14] while Spin's Jon Dolan called McGowan's lyrics "some of the purest toothless lyricism in punk rock history".[13]

In 2000, Q placed Rum Sodomy & the Lash at number 93 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. In 2012, the album was ranked number 440 on Rolling Stone's The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.[19] Pitchfork Media named it the 67th best album of the 1980s.[20] The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[21]


A remastered and expanded version of Rum, Sodomy & the Lash was released for compact disc by WEA in the European market on 11 January 2005; this reissue was released on September 19, 2006, by Rhino Records in the United States. The remastered disc added six bonus tracks, including the entirety of the Poguetry in Motion EP and the b-sides to "Dirty Old Town" – "A Pistol for Paddy Garcia" on seven-inch and "The Parting Glass" on twelve-inch singles. The reissue included liner notes by David Quantick and a poem about the Pogues by Tom Waits.[18]

Track listing[edit]

Standard edition – Side one
1."The Sick Bed of Cúchulainn"Shane MacGowan2:59
2."The Old Main Drag"Shane MacGowan3:19
3."The Wild Cats of Kilkenny"Shane MacGowan, Jem Finer2:48
4."I'm a Man You Don't Meet Every Day"traditional2:55
5."A Pair of Brown Eyes"Shane MacGowan4:54
6."Sally MacLennane"Shane MacGowan2:43
Standard edition – Side two
1."Dirty Old Town"Ewan MacColl3:45
2."Jesse James"traditional2:58
3."Navigator"Phil Gaston4:12
4."Billy's Bones"Shane MacGowan2:02
5."The Gentleman Soldier"traditional2:04
6."And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda"Eric Bogle8:10
Bonus tracks (2005 reissue)
13."A Pistol for Paddy Garcia"Jem Finer2:31
14."London Girl"Shane MacGowan3:05
15."Rainy Night in Soho"Shane MacGowan5:36
16."Body of an American"Shane MacGowan4:49
17."Planxty Noel Hill"Jem Finer3:12
18."The Parting Glass"traditional2:14


The Pogues

Additional personnel


Region Certification Certified units/sales
France (SNEP)[24] Gold 100,000[23]
United Kingdom (BPI)[25] Gold 100,000^


  1. ^ Rowley 2018-08-22T11:58:18Z, Scott. "New wave: A guide to the best albums". LouderSound.
  2. ^ "Pogues Tour". Melody Maker. London, England: IPC Media: 3. 10 August 1985.
  3. ^ Manchester, William. "The Last Lion: Volume 1: Winston Churchill: Visions of Glory, 1874–1932. Little, Brown, & Company.
  4. ^ a b Hurt, Andy (17 August 1985). "A Whip Round with the Pogues". Sounds. London, England: Spotlight Publications: 18–19.
  5. ^ "Rum Sodomy & the Lash - Credits on MSN Music". Archived from the original on 19 December 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  6. ^ a b Deming, Mark. "Rum Sodomy & the Lash – The Pogues". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  7. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  8. ^ McNamee, Paul (10 December 2004). "Reissues". The Irish Times. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  9. ^ Gilbert, Pat (December 2004). "Review: The Pogues – Rum Sodomy & the Lash". Mojo. London, England: EMAP (133): 123.
  10. ^ a b Cooper, Mark (June 1994). "Review: The Pogues – Rum Sodomy & the Lash". Q. London, England: EMAP (93): 134–35.
  11. ^ Considine, J. D. (2004). "The Pogues". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 643. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  12. ^ a b Simon, Jane (10 August 1985). "Review: The Pogues – Rum Sodomy & the Lash". Sounds. London, England: Spotlight Publications: 28.
  13. ^ a b Dolan, Jon (October 2006). "Reissues". Spin. 22 (10): 104. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  14. ^ a b 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. ^ a b "Album Reviews | The Pogues 'Rum, Sodomy and The Lash'". CLUAS. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  19. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. 31 May 2012. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  20. ^ "Staff Lists: Top 100 Albums of the 1980s". Pitchfork Media. 20 November 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  21. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (7 February 2006). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 0-7893-1371-5.
  22. ^ "The Star of the County Down?". Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  23. ^ "Les Certifications depuis 1973". SNEP. Retrieved 17 December 2017. Choose "The POGUES" from the drop-down list and click "OK".
  24. ^ "French album certifications – The Pogues – Rum Sodomy & the Flash [sic]" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique.
  25. ^ "British album certifications – The Pogues – Rum, Sodomy and the Lash". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Rum, Sodomy and the Lash in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.

External links[edit]