Music: Eight Lads Putting on Airs

The Pogues shake up Irish folk tunes to make blistering rock

The birth of a band: at a London flat some eight years ago, Shane MacGowan, who had more of his teeth back then, picked up a guitar and started to play an old Irish tune, Paddy Worked at the Railways. He played it fast; he played it very fast, in the best postpunk, frontal-assault style. His pal Spider Stacy clocked MacGowan's hands at "940 light-years an hour." That time, of course, was unofficial. But looking back now, it has become the official beginning of the Pogues.

This aggregation landed its first gig two weeks later. "Hey," MacGowan said to a local...

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