Friday 11 November 2022

A Celebration

Not content with being one of the biggest manufactureres in the US, a strong presence in Europe, a successful motor sport programme, and continually securing the top seller spot in the UK, Ford decided that they wanted to enter the small car market in 1972.
The prime competition was seen as the Mini and the Fiat 127.  Development began just as the 1973 Oil crisis took hold and the world was clamouring for smaller, more efficient vehicles.

Originally named Bravo, Henry Ford II instructed a rename to his preferred choice of Fiesta - the Spanish word for a celebration.  And furthering the Spanish connection, Ford invested in factory space in Spain, and expanded it's Dagenham plant to provide the components which were bolted together in Valencia.
The Fiesta was launched in 1976 (arriving in Britain in 1977), and very quickly beat off the competition to join stablemates the Cortina and Escort at the top of the sales lists.

The Fiesta was briefly entered into rallying and proved relatively successful, but the force of Ford Motorsport remained with the Escort - the pre-eminate rally vehicle before the Audi Quattro re-wrote the rulebook with 4 wheel drive.
The dalliance with Motorsoprt led to the introduction of the 1.3 Supersport version, partly to expand the range but mostly as Ford's competitors were developing their own "hot hatch" variants.
This was soon followed by the XR2 which pretty much became the benchmark affordable hot hatch (OK, it wasn't truly "hot" having less power than it's main rivals.  But it was cheap to buy, cheap to run, relatively reliable, and looked the part).

Since it's launch there have been 7 Marks of the Fiesta, always popular and selling well.  It's estimated that over it's lifetime, the Fiestas has sold over 22 million units.  So when it was announced that June 2023 would see the last Fiesta roll of the production it was difficult to understand why.  There is seemingly no direct small car/supermini replacement on the way.  Maybe Ford is just looking to refine the range and focus on multiple use Electric Vehicles - it's prime candidate being the Focus.

So, after 47 years I guess it's time to say adiĆ³s

Around the time that the Fiesta was transitioning from the Mark 1 to the Mark 2, squatmates and ex-members of The Nips and The Millwall Chainsaws joined forces to form Pogue Mahone with the intention of combining Punk with traditional Irish Music.

Led by the prolific writer and drinker Shane MacGowan, the band expanded and became as solid as Shane was unstable.
They quickly established a live reputation around the London circuit, andtheir first recordings - "Dark Streets of London" / "And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" was released on their own Pogue Mahone label, gaining national airplay on Radio 1 and invitations from John  Peel for Radio sessions.
The band named was altered to The Pogues when they were subsequently banned by the BBC when it was pointed out that the Gaelic translation of their name was Kiss My Arse.

Supporting The Clash on their 1984 Tour brought more attention, and most importantly a record contract from Stiff Records.
They entered the studio and within a month their debut album 'Red Roses For Me' was recorded and readied for release.
Critically hailed, but not translating to commercial success did nothing to knock the spirit out of the band.  Their live shows continued to be the cornerstone of their reputation.
The problem was getting that re-created in the studio and down on record.

And that was just the job taken on, and pretty much delivered, by Elvis Costello with 1985s 'Rum, Sodomy And The Lash'.
He manged to capture (or closely capture at least) the bands live show.  However he was also getting romantically involved with Pogues bassist Cait O'Riordan, which soured the relationship, and Elvis stepped aside (subsequently marrying Cait, resulting in her leaving the band)

Re-configured with a new bassist, The Pogues were invited by Irish Folk royalty The Dubliners to perform "The Irish Rover" on Irish TV.
Released as a single, The Pogues & The Dubliners secured a top 10 single, but ...
This success also coincided with Stiff Records tanking, meaning any profile they'd gained was (possibly) being slowly eroded as they were unable to record or release any new material.
By early 1987, the Stiff situation was resolved and the bands own label Pogue Mahone was re-lifed under the support of Warner Music.

They linked up with producer Steve Lillywhite and entered the studio with a mix of old demos and new music.  Lillywhite assisted with arranging the new material, and dusted down the old demos recorded with Elvis Costello.
Amongst the tapes he found an raw duet between Shane and Cait, reciting a tale of a down and out couple in New York.  The backing track was re-recorded, and Lillywhite was working on them further in hos home studio when he asked his wife - Kirsty MacColl - to add a guide vocal with Shane's part to be recorded later.
Shane recorded his parts, and Kirsty's guide vocal remained untouched - indeed the two never met in the studio for the recording of this song.  One of the first times they did come together to perform it, was a mimed version on Top Of The Pops.

Released in late November 1987, "Fairytale Of New York" quickly started selling a rising the charts - ultimately denied the coverted Christmas Number 1 slot by Pet Shop Boys version of "Always On My Mind".
"Fairytale ..." has latterly received more official re-releases and is now recognised as a Christams "classic" of modern times (ie one of the seven that will be played on a loop in every Shopping Centre throughout December)

The success of "Fairytale .." boosted sales of it's parent album 'If I should Fall From Grace With God' when it arrived in early 1988.  It is a very good album - maybe a little smoother with less rough edges than previous, but shows The Pogues pushing on and proving themselves to be a very capable, inventive band, and the songs encapsualte many of Shane's most poetic storytelling lyrics.
Personally, I think 'Rum, Sodomy And The Lash' is a stronger album (just my opinion).  The presence of "Fairytale .." I am sure pushes focus (and sales) towards 'If I Should Fall From Grace With God', but it should be remembered that there are 14 other tracks on there too.

This being one of them:



  1. I love it when a blog post is tied up in a neat bow at the end, like that.

  2. Fantastic post. And as soon as I worked out what the car I was, I hoped that would be the song.

    First two cars I owned were Fiestas. They did me well.