James Fearnley - Here Comes Everybody/The Story Of The Pogues
James Fearnley, sometimes accordion player with the Pogues, has written an account of life in a mildly successful band up to the year 1993, when he left the Pogues. I've always held this band in high regards and, actually, I own all of their studio albums, a number of singles as well as some 12"s. I've seen them live with their original bassplayer Cait and even when Shane (the singer) had left, with Joe Strummer. The band had it's ups and downs. From a rather colourless debut album via their early masterpiece "Rum, Sodomy And The Lash" through to some lesser offerings, the band had visited all the stops on the road to fame.
Of course, their X-mas song with Kirsty MacColl will forever and a day be one of the cornerstones of popular music. Others like "A Pair Of Brown Eyes" and quite a handful of contenders are not far behind. When Shane left (or rather, after he was thrown out of the band), the band nearly self destructed musically. There was just nothing great about the band anymore (at least on record - live, with Joe Strummer was an altogether different matter). Nowadays, the Pogues are in a different incarnation on the road again, playing gigs with their erstwhile frontman. But really, I don't want to see a band that's giving it a shot on the oldie circuit. Not the Pogues anyway.
It was thus, that I recently read the aforementioned book and I came away with the distinct opinion, that one shouldn't read inside accounts of performers you hold in high esteem. First of all, the writing style of James Fearnley is not something to write home about. In fact, it's rather dull and drags itself mostly through the 400 pages. It's just bad style, there's no cliff hangers, no suspense and, at least for me, far to little on the actual music, be it recording- or gigwise. What you get instead is accounts of mashed pineapples, some tensions within the band and a lot of drab. One gets the feeling, that this really wasn't a band at all, but a bunch of drifters being thrown together by chance, trying to make a living of what was at hand.
I, for one, came away a bit disillusioned, although I didn't expect the Pogues to be the type of guys walking around with a halo, I was amazed of their childish behaviour, their immature relationships within the band and their overall problems of facing the world. Naturally, it could be James Fearnley's tinted view of matters, but I do suspect, that there's a truth buried somewhere. Although I suspect that the author had an axe to grind, even though he's obviously covering this up to some extent. Conclusion: If you're a diehard Pogues fan, spare yourself the cash to buy this book and the time to read this. This is not really a inside view of a band. Spend your money on their early records instead.