Paul W. Hullah talks to

Pogues’ bassist DARYLL HUNT about peace, love, Hell’s Ditch and why the

their lead singer, Shane McGowan.

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preople want to regard us as a bunch of drunks. then that’s their business, but it’s a long way from the truth. We work hard. People who really care about us and who we care about know that anyway. There’s a strong spirit to the Pogues that‘s kept us on the rails. It wavered for a bit. but it’s back with us now.’

The spirit under discussion is one unusually for the Pogues that can’t be contained in a bottle. But it’s certainly become an elixir of life. The first week of October holds the release of Hell’s Ditch, the fifth album in The Pogues’ eight years together, plus three nights on the trot at Barrowland, the opening leg of their first major British tour for three years. The feeling in the camp - as expressed by bassist Daryll Hunt is one ofenthusiasm rekindled. Last year was not a wholly happy one for the eight-piece collective; their Peace and Love album. on which they extended their punk-Dubliners sound ofold along the path of the newly fashionable World Music, was poorly received by both public and critics. By no means a worthless outing, but musically eclectic to the point of formlessness, the Peace and Love campaign signalled a crisis in direction for the band. The trauma was increased when vocalist/songwriter (and, Faber would have

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us believe, poet) Shane McGowan’s perennial drink-related health problems forced the group to play a series of prestigious US dates, as support to Bob Dylan, minus frontman whilst McGowan underwent recuperation in London. It is to the Pogues’ eternal credit that they have ridden over this stormy interlude and come back out fighting and livelier than ever. Hell’s Ditch is a potent return to form, neatly produced by ex-Clash man Joe Strummer (who was a stand-in guitarist for the Pogues three years ago), and provides an impressively coherent platform for eight brand new McGowan compositions. It’s the Pogues we know and love once again.

‘Well, I hope so,’ Hunt replies. “It’s not so much a return to the traditional in the sense of the Irish music; it’s more of a return to the original spirit of the band, a return to the mood and the energy that were there in the band sound up until just before Peace and Love. That spirit is a unifying thing. The new record, and hopefully the new tour, basically have us sounding like we’re playing together as a unit and enjoying it again.’

‘It’s all to do with the timing. Peace and Love has got some really nice songs on it, but it was recorded at a time that was difficult for all of us, and that comes out, I think, on the record.’

Hell’s Ditch also features the renaissance of

10'l‘hc List 28 Scptcmbcr— l 1 October Wm