Rum Sodomy & the Lash

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.

Rum Sodomy & the Lash
Rum sodomy and the lash.jpg
Studio album by
Released5 August 1985
StudioElephant Studios, Wapping, London
GenreCeltic punk, folk punk, new wave[1]
LabelStiff (UK & Europe)
MCA (US & Canada)
ProducerElvis Costello
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

Album titleEdit

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 coverEdit

The cover artwork is an altered version of The Raft of the Medusa, a Romantic-era painting by Theodore Géricault, with the band members' heads, painted by Peter Mennim,[5] replacing those of various figures on the raft.[6]

Critical reception and accoladesEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [7]
The Irish Times     [8]
Mojo     [9]
Q     [10]
Record Mirror4/5[11]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [12]
Sounds     [13]
Spin     [14]
Uncut     [15]
The Village VoiceA[16]

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."[17] Sounds' Jane Simon called Rum Sodomy & the Lash "the finest slice of story-telling your heart could wish for".[13] 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."[18] 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."[16]

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."[7] 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".[19] Mark Cooper of 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",[15] while Spin's Jon Dolan said that the album contained "some of the purest toothless lyricism in punk-rock history."[14]

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.[20] Pitchfork named it the 67th best album of the 1980s.[21] The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[22]


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.[19]

Track listingEdit

Standard edition – Side one
1."The Sick Bed of Cúchulainn"Shane MacGowan2:59
2."The Old Main Drag"MacGowan3:19
3."The Wild Cats of Kilkenny"MacGowan, Jem Finer2:48
4."I'm a Man You Don't Meet Every Day"Traditional; arranged by The Pogues2:55
5."A Pair of Brown Eyes"MacGowan4:54
6."Sally MacLennane"MacGowan2:43
Standard edition – Side two
1."Dirty Old Town"Ewan MacColl3:45
2."Jesse James"Traditional; arranged by The Pogues2:58
3."Navigator"Phil Gaston4:12
4."Billy's Bones"MacGowan2:02
5."The Gentleman Soldier"Traditional; arranged by The Pogues2:04
6."And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda"Eric Bogle8:10
Bonus tracks (2005 reissue)
13."A Pistol for Paddy Garcia" (B-side)Finer2:31
14."London Girl" (Poguetry in Motion)MacGowan3:05
15."Rainy Night in Soho" (Poguetry in Motion)MacGowan5:36
16."Body of an American" (Poguetry in Motion)MacGowan4:49
17."Planxty Noel Hill" (Poguetry in Motion)Finer3:12
18."The Parting Glass" (B-side)Traditional; arranged by The Pogues2:14


Chart (1985/86) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[23] 89
New Zealand (RIANZ) 17
United Kingdom (Official Charts Company) 13


Region Certification Certified units/sales
France (SNEP)[25] Gold 100,000[24]
United Kingdom (BPI)[26] Gold 100,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


Credits are adapted from the liner notes of Rum Sodomy & the Lash and Poguetry in Motion, except where noted.[5][27]

The Pogues

Additional personnel
Technical personnel
  • Elvis Costello – producer
  • Philip Chevron – producer on "A Pistol for Paddy Garcia" and "The Parting Glass"[29]
  • Nick Robbins – engineer; 2005 reissue remastering
  • Paul Scully – engineer
  • Dave Jordan – engineer on Poguetry in Motion
  • Bob Kraushaar – engineer on Poguetry in Motion
  • Nick Davis – engineer on Poguetry in Motion
  • Peter Mennim – cover art (heads)
  • Théodore Géricault – original painting
  • Frank Murray – sleeve concept
  • Cindy Palmano – photography
  • Lilly Lee – hand lettering


  1. ^ Rowley, Scott (22 August 2018). "New wave: A guide to the best albums". Louder. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  2. ^ "Pogues Tour". Melody Maker. London. 10 August 1985. p. 3.
  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. pp. 18–19.
  5. ^ a b Rum Sodomy & the Lash (Media notes). The Pogues. Stiff. 1985.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  6. ^ Clerk, Carol (2006). Kiss My Arse: The Story of the Pogues. Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-1-84609-008-0.
  7. ^ a b Deming, Mark. "Rum, Sodomy & the Lash – The Pogues". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  8. ^ McNamee, Paul (10 December 2004). "Reissues". The Irish Times. Dublin. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  9. ^ Gilbert, Pat (December 2004). "The Pogues: Rum Sodomy & the Lash". Mojo. No. 133. London. p. 123.
  10. ^ a b Cooper, Mark (June 1994). "The Pogues: Rum Sodomy & the Lash". Q. No. 93. London. pp. 134–35.
  11. ^ Strickland, Andy (10 August 1985). "The Pogues: Rum, Sodomy and the Lash". Record Mirror. London. p. 17.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ a b Simon, Jane (10 August 1985). "The Pogues: Rum Sodomy & the Lash". Sounds. London. p. 28.
  14. ^ a b Dolan, Jon (October 2006). "Reissues". Spin. Vol. 22, no. 10. New York. p. 104. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  15. ^ a b Wilde, Jon (December 2004). "Keeping it reel". Uncut. No. 91. London.
  16. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (11 March 1986). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  17. ^ Sweeting, Adam (10 August 1985). "The Pogues: Rum Sodomy & the Lash". Melody Maker. London. p. 27.
  18. ^ Quantick, David (10 August 1985). "The Pogues: Rum Sodomy & the Lash". NME. London. p. 26.
  19. ^ a b Bristow, Daniel. "The Pogues 'Rum, Sodomy and The Lash'". CLUAS. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  20. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. 31 May 2012. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  21. ^ "The Top 100 Albums of the 1980s". Pitchfork. 21 November 2002. p. 4. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  22. ^ Bates, Theunis (2006). "The Pogues: Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash". In Dimery, Robert (ed.). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Universe Publishing. p. 536. ISBN 978-0-7893-1371-3.
  23. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 235. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  24. ^ "Les Certifications depuis 1973". SNEP. Retrieved 17 December 2017. Choose "The POGUES" from the drop-down list and click "OK".
  25. ^ "French album certifications – The Pogues – Rum Sodomy & the Flash [sic]" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique.
  26. ^ "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.
  27. ^ Poguetry in Motion (Media notes). The Pogues. Stiff. 1986.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  28. ^ "The Star of the County Down?". Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  29. ^ "Dirty Old Town 12"". Discogs. Retrieved 11 March 2021.

External linksEdit