The PoguestrA are back for the first time since the Summer with a song close to the hearts of the London Irish community especially. ‘London You’re A Lady’ one of the highlights of The Pogues fourth studio album Peace And Love.
The PoguestrA are a group of musicians united by a love of The Pogues playing together remotely. Listen on as they continue their quest to cover all our favourite Pogues songs!
Peace And Love was the first Pogues studio album that moved significantly away from traditional Irish music. Opening with the jazzy ‘Gridlock’ instrumental it was one of several songs where The Pogues expanded their repertoire. Nevertheless most of the album is inspired by Ireland even if the songs are about “the stinking roads” of London. ‘White City’ about the famed Greyhound racing stadium where many a poor Paddy saw his wages washed away, Jem Finer’s beautiful ‘Misty Morning, Albert Bridge’, a song previously covered by The PoguestrA and the song here, ‘London You’re a Lady’. The song is pretty standard for The Pogues in both melody and instrumentation and using the metaphor of a city or country being female wasn’t exactly groundbreaking but the song’s lyrics are a wonderful example of Shane MacGowan’s genius.
The boxer on the cover of the album was British Empire Games bronze medal winner, Hugh Cameron. In the picture he has five fingers (and a thumb!) on his right hand. The fifth finger was added by sleeve designer, Simon Ryan, to fit the word ‘PEACE’.
Philip Chevron said this about the song over on The Pogues Forum
“If ‘London You’re A Lady’ is based upon anything, it’s the work of the harper Turlough O’Carolan, but the title is a nod to the sentimental 1970’s pop song ‘Limerick, You’re A Lady’.”
It was thought by most reviewers and indeed most fans too I suspect that the album overall was disappointing compared to their three previous masterpieces. It is unfair to compare to those albums as time would tell and many of these songs would become both firm fan and live favourites. I think though that no song on the album resonated with their huge London Irish following as ‘London You’re A Lady’.
Phil further recalled in an interview on ShaneMacGowan.net.
“The band was going through a very volatile period at the time, people were having domestic issues; Darryl and I witnessed the Hillsborough Disaster” – in which where 94 people were crushed to death at a football match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in April 1989 – “and it has to be said that Shane – indeed, the whole band – was in better shape when we recorded the demos than when we cut the album. By then, disillusion, not to mention various drug cocktails, had set in.”
Peace And Love was released on 23 July 1989, and reached a very respectable #5 in the UK charts, eventually going gold. We leave the last word to the sadly missed Philip Chevron.
“In the event, I think Steve was trying to make a record as much for our record companies as for The Pogues. In an ideal world, these are not incompatible goals, as If I Should Fall From Grace previously proved, but I think this one collapsed under the weight of expectation as much as it suffered from our own flawed humanity. Yet, amazingly, it’s still a great album, however flawed. Besides, what else was there that month – the new Rick Astley?”
Ah, London, you’re a lady Laid out before my eyes Your golden heart as pulsing Between your scarred up thighs
Your eyes are full of sadness Red buses skirt your hem Your head-dress is a ring of lights But I would not follow them
Your architects were madmen And your builders sane but drunk But amidst your fading jewels Shine acid house and punk
You are a scarlet lady
Your streets run red with blood Oh, my darling they have used you And covered you with mud
It was deep down in your womb my love
I drank my quart of sin While Chinamen played cards and draughts And knocked back Mickey Finns
Your blood is like a river
Its scent is beer and gin Your hell is in the summer And you blossom in the spring
September is your purgatory
Christmas is your heaven When the stinking streets of summer Are washed away by rain
At the dark end of a lonely street That’s where you lose your pain ‘Tis then your eyes light up my love And sparkle once again
Musicians: Daniel Al-Ayoubi: Mandolin (Germany); Juan Brown: Tin Whistle, Vocals (Shetland Islands); Brandon Caylor: Mando-Guitar (California); Giacomo Chiaramonte: BanjoBass (Italy); “Virginia” Bill Francavilla: Mountain Dulcimer (Virginia, USA); ChrisGoddard: Fiddle (England); MattGoddard: Drums (England); Mark Hamilton: Guitar (Canada); Robin Hiermer: Vocals (Germany); Marc Hoper: Vocals (Germany)/Jeff Ingarfield: Vocals (England); Sean Larkin: Harmonica (England); Dave Keating: Mandolin (Chicago, Illinois, USA); Heather Macleod: Harp (Isle of Arran); Mattia Malusardi: Bouzouki (Italy); Vince Martini: Bass (California); Rick Nuttall: Vocals (England); Moisés Álvarez Rodríguez: Ukulele, Fiddle (Spain); Greg Roe: Irish Bouzouki (Santa Cruz, California); Daniele Rubertelli: Accordion, Vocals (Italy); Marcel van Bergen:Guitar (The Netherlands); Paddy Vervoort: Vocals (The Netherlands).
Audio and video editing by Marc Hoper. Released on St. Patrick’s Day 2023.
If you are interested in joining the PoguestrA for future songs then get in touch with the gang viaYouTube orFacebook
You can hear more about the recording of ‘London You’re A Lady’ and The PoguestrA over at Toooaloo Radio where they just released an interview with Marc Hoper of An Spiorad, Whiskerlad and The PoguestrA chatting about such stuff!