December 04, 2020
Julien Temple rounds up the old gang for bleakly worshipful profile of the recalcitrant Pogues star
Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan review – a sombre salute
This full-length profile of the former Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan emerges just as the annual debate over the lyrics of his biggest hit, Fairytale of New York, gets into full swing. While the controversy is not specifically addressed here, you have to wonder how the defund-the-BBC types will react to MacGowan’s enthusiastic endorsement of Irish uprisings against the British and adoration of the IRA – “I felt ashamed I didn’t have the guts to join [them],” he says at one point.
There’s a lot of interest in here, even if many of the anecdotes are well worn: MacGowan’s early years in Tipperary, his schooldays in Tunbridge Wells and the Barbican, and his formative time in the late 70s punk circuit. It’s an hour in before we even get to the Pogues, none of whose members are interviewed here; instead, it’s his sister Siobhan and father Maurice who make the most telling contributions. The former is no-nonsense and direct, telling of her awe when she first heard audiences chanting her brother’s name and her decision to commit him to a psychiatric clinic in the late 80s. MacGowan Sr, on the other hand, sniffs with entertainingly Celtic disgust over his teenage son’s burgeoning interest in Anglo-American rock: “He discovered Creedence Clearwater Revival!”
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