I don't actually think this album is at all average, as it is said to be, I just think it isn't reminiscent of what a Pogues' fan would imagine them doing. I mean, if this album was created by any other band that had no history of writing raw, energetic Irish punk songs, then it would be considered a good album.
I have to say I was expecting much the same sort of stuff on `Waiting for Herb' as had been on `Rum, Sodomy...' and `If I Should Fall...' However I think once MacGowan was no longer part of the band they decided to go more mainstream and pop in their style, still retaining the Irish instrumentation but playing them in what I would call a more `modern' way.
Many of the songs on this CD are very likeable, with the odd exception such as `Girl From the Wadi Hammamat'. By all means carry on the Asian theme evident in `Hell's Ditch', the Pogues album prior to `Waiting for Herb', but when you have three songs like it, it gets a very `the same' feel to it, and it isn't at all impressing.
One major gripe I have is the awful sound effects put on at the start of `Drunken Boat', `Girl From the ...' and `Pachinko'. These in some places are 40 seconds in duration which is far too long and it doesn't add anything to the song, if anything spoils it a bit because you have to wait for half a minute before anything actually happens.
Now, to the songs themselves. Personally, I can't stand a few, notably `Girl from the Wadi Hammamat' (which I guess you've already picked up) and `Small Hours', both of which in my opinion are tedious songs, whoever records them. `Small Hours' fails to tick any boxes for me as a music fan at all; it's just simply the most boring song I think I've heard. I'm not a great fan either of `Sitting On Top Of The World' nor `My Baby's gone', although I must say that `My Baby's Gone' could be an excellent track if recorded by a rock band. To be honest, I don't either of the last two tracks are anything special.
My two personal favourites off the original `Waiting for Herb' line-up before re-mastering are `Haunting' and `Drunken Boat', probably because these are the only two songs which retain a bouncy rhythm and an Irish feel, and are good to sing along with (although `Haunting' is so fast that this can be difficult!).
The bonus tracks I think are also quite good as songs. `First Day of Forever' is generally not bad although if you then think of the fact that it was written by Phil Chevron, it becomes slightly more mediocre. `Train kept Rolling On' is the best of the three bonus tracks by a mile and I can't see why it didn't make the original album. `Paris St. Germaine', is a song that I think would have been suited more with Terry Woods singing and without a dull concertina/tin whistle duet at the start.
To sum up: half-an-half - one half fun and catchy, the other half too pop & rock. It's not what the Pogues do and I don't think the experiments have worked. But I can't let this take anything away from the songs on the album that are decent...
1. Tuesday Morning
2. Smell Of Petroleum
4. Once Upon A Time
5. Sitting On Top Of The World
6. Drunken Boat
7. Big City
8. Girl From The Wadi Hammamat
9. Modern World
11. My Baby'S Gone
12. Small Hours
13. First Day Of Forever
14. Train Kept Rolling On
15. Paris St Germaine