Red Roses for Me

Red Roses for Me is the debut studio album by the London-based band The Pogues, released in October 1984.

Red Roses for Me
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 1984
GenreCeltic punk
ProducerStan Brennan
The Pogues chronology
Red Roses for Me
Rum Sodomy & the Lash
Singles from Red Roses for Me
  1. "Dark Streets of London"
    Released: June 1984
  2. "Boys from the County Hell"
    Released: 15 October 1984


Red Roses for Me is filled with traditional Irish music performed with punk influences. The band's approach of mixing traditional songs and ballads with frontman Shane MacGowan's "gutter hymns" about drinking, fighting and sex was innovative at the time. The title "Red Roses for Me" is the name of a play by Seán O'Casey, though his works do not show any direct influence upon the band. The album reached number 89 in the UK album charts.

The front of the album shows the band with the exception of drummer Andrew Ranken (pictured in inset) sitting in front of a picture of United States president John F. Kennedy. The back features Shane MacGowan pictured with his foot in a cast. Accordion player James Fearnley has a bottle sticking out of his coat, while bass player Cait O'Riordan is seen holding a can of beer.

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Mojo (2004 reissue)[1]
Q (2004 reissue)[2]
Record Mirror[3]

The UK music press hailed The Pogues' début album as a breath of fresh air, with positive reviews. Melody Maker felt that "the quality of their music, even the very nature of it, is strangely irrelevant. What's important is their existence at all. For The Pogues are a gesture – a particularly bloody two-fingered one – aimed at all things considered current and fashionable in 1984... Theirs is a gut reaction to traditional music – and with it comes all the motion, intensity and vigour that has largely been lost to these songs since the early days of the folk revival in the Sixties."[4] NME stated, "From the strummed banjo and lilting accordion that preface a roaring singalong 'Transmetropolitan' to the final unidentified voice offering an unaccompanied 'diddly I di di' refrain, there exists a wealth of evidence that Shane MacGowan's faith in the power of positive drinking-music has paid premiums. The raucous surge and evocative noise that has filled the capital's pubs and clubs has come through the stark sobriety of the studio set-up to arrive intact in all its sweat-soaked beer-stained glory... If you think they've rehabilitated a music that's been asleep for a while you're dead wrong – on both counts. The music has never been away, and The Pogues in all their irreverent 'seriousness' have taken it out on a limb, where it all started, where it belongs."[5] Awarding the album 3¾ stars out of five, Sounds said, "Red Roses for Me is a satisfyingly impure, purposefully imperfect and totally irresistible collection of lasting resentment, rebellious roars, watery-eyed romance and uproarious jigs... Surprisingly, this record works. It manages to convey the sullied, brazen and raucous spirit of their live set very effectively."[6] Robert Christgau gave the album a B+ and proclaimed "tepid it ain't".[7]


For the 1994 reissue of the album Q observed that the album "rushes along at an unholy amphetamine gallop... they sound utterly intoxicated both with their own enthusiasm and the spirit of the jig and the reel".[8]

In a retrospective review for AllMusic, Mark Deming calls the album "good and rowdy fun", but feels that "on Rum Sodomy & the Lash and If I Should Fall from Grace with God, the Pogues would prove that they were capable of a lot more than that".[9]

Track listing

Standard edition

The original UK LP has the following track listing

  1. "Transmetropolitan" (Shane MacGowan) – 4:15
  2. "The Battle of Brisbane" (instrumental) (MacGowan) – 1:49
  3. "The Auld Triangle" (Brendan Behan) – 4:20
  4. "Waxie's Dargle" (Traditional) – 1:53
  5. "Boys from the County Hell" (MacGowan) – 2:56
  6. "Sea Shanty" (MacGowan) – 2:24
  7. "Dark Streets of London" (MacGowan) – 3:33
  8. "Streams of Whiskey" (MacGowan) – 2:32
  9. "Poor Paddy" (Traditional) – 3:09
  10. "Dingle Regatta" (instrumental) (Traditional) – 2:52
  11. "Greenland Whale Fisheries" (Traditional) – 2:36
  12. "Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go" (MacGowan) – 3:30
  13. "Kitty" (Traditional) – 4:23

Bonus tracks (2004 reissue)

The first CD issue of the album had a total of 14 tracks, adding "Whiskey You're the Devil" as track 8.

In 2004, a remastered CD was issued adding a total of 6 bonus tracks to the original UK album listing. "Repeal of the Licensing Laws" was the B-side of "The Boys from the County Hell" their second single. "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" was the B-side of their first single, "Dark Streets of London". "Whiskey You're the Devil" and "Mursheen Durkin" were the B-sides of their third single, "A Pair of Brown Eyes". "The Wild Rover" was the B-side of their fourth single, "Sally Maclennane".

  1. "The Leaving of Liverpool" (Traditional)
  2. "Muirshin Durkin" (Traditional)
  3. "Repeal of the Licensing Laws" (instrumental) (Stacy)
  4. "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" (Eric Bogle)
  5. "Whiskey You're the Devil" (Traditional)
  6. "The Wild Rover" (Traditional)


The Pogues:

Additional personnel:


  1. Gilbert, Pat (December 2004). "Review: The Pogues – Red Roses for Me". Mojo. London, England: EMAP (133): 123.
  2. Aizlewood, John (January 2005). "Review: The Pogues – Red Roses for Me". Q. London, England: EMAP (222): 141.
  3. Cordery, Mark (6 October 1984). "Review: The Pogues – Red Roses for Me". Record Mirror. London, England: Spotlight Publications: 20.
  4. Colin Irwin (6 October 1984). "Review: The Pogues – Red Roses for Me". Melody Maker. London, England: IPC Media: 36.
  5. Sean O'Hagan (13 October 1984). "Review: The Pogues – Red Roses for Me". NME. London, England: IPC Media: 36.
  6. Rose Rouse (6 October 1984). "Review: The Pogues – Red Roses for Me". Sounds. London, England: Spotlight Publications: 38.
  7. Robert Christgau. "The Pogues". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  8. Mark Cooper (June 1994). "Review: The Pogues – Red Roses for Me". Q. London, England: EMAP (93): 134–35.
  9. Red Roses for Me - The Pogues | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards at AllMusic
  10. "The Medusa Fora • View topic - The Star of the County Down?". Retrieved 20 May 2014.
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