"I saw my task… was to capture them in their delapidated glory before some more professional producer f–ked them up," Elvis Costello wrote of his role behind the controls for the Pogues' second album, Rum Sodomy & the Lash. One spin of the album proves that Costello accomplished his mission; this album captures all the sweat, fire, and angry joy that was lost in the thin, disembodied recording of the band's debut, and the Pogues sound stronger and tighter without losing a bit of their edge in the process. Rum Sodomy & the Lash also found Shane MacGowan growing steadily as a songwriter; while the debut had its moments, the blazing and bitter roar of the opening track, "The Sick Bed of Cúchulainn," made it clear MacGowan had fused the intelligent anger of punk and the sly storytelling of Irish folk as no one had before, and the rent boys' serenade of "The Old Main Drag" and the dazzling, drunken character sketch of "A Pair of Brown Eyes" proved there were plenty of directions where he could take his gifts.
Alcatrazz was originally formed as a vehicle for vocalist Graham Bonnet, but became famous for introducing budding guitar heroes instead, namely Swedish phenom Yngwie J. Malmsteen and ex-Frank Zappa associate Steve Vai. After toiling away unsuccessfully for most of the '70s with the Marble and as a solo artist, vocalist Graham Bonnet got his lucky break when he was tapped to replace Ronnie James Dio in Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow in 1979. But after recording the much maligned Down to Earth album and a single live performance headlining the first Castle Donington Monsters of Rock Festival in the summer of 1980, Bonnet was unceremoniously sacked by the temperamental Blackmore. Down but not out, Bonnet set about forming Alcatrazz, drafting veteran musicians in keyboardist Jimmy Waldo, bassist Gary Shea, and drummer Jan Uvena, and looking to reproduce the basic Rainbow sonic formula.