If I Should Fall from Grace With God [Remastered & Expanded]
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List price: £7.99|
Our price: £7.99
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Average customer rating:
4.67 out of 5
Media: Audio CD|
ISBN/ASIN : B0006957SA
Manufacturer : Wsm|
Release data : 13 December, 2004
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A selection of product reviews
God Bless The Pogues
Only a handfull of bands in the history of popular music can lay claim to having invented a style of music. Here Punk-Folk is the style in question and twenty years on the Pogues are still it's greatest exponents.
Either this album or 'Rum, Sodomy and the Lash' are usualy touted as the Pogues finest hour. However to catch them at their raw best 'Red Roses For Me', their first album has both of these beaten hands down.
Not to say that 'If I Should', doesn't have it's moments, it certainly does, and in abundence, from everybody's favourite Christmas song, 'Faiytale of New York' to Philip Chevron's epic 'Thousands are Sailing'.
I would also urge anybody who already has an older version of this album, and feels it's not worth buying the new version for 'a few old 'B' sides', to think again - as 'Shanne Bradley' is probably the most beautiful instrumental ever recorded, and easily one of their best songs.
I think I'll have it played at my funeral, if I should live that long.
The Pogues' demented pop album.
So, the Pogues build on the sound of their first two albums - inviting producer Steve Lillywhite along for the ride - and producing their ultimate pop album in the process. This is the Pogues the way people like to remember them... drunken Irish caricatures who fused traditional Celtic elements with the sound of punk rock, poetic lyrics, and more blue language than a Tarantino monologue. It still sounds great, something I marvel at every time I go back to this record, safe in the knowledge that this music will sound just as great in another fifteen years. It's a testament to all concerned, with MacGowan writing some his best compositions alongside great musicians like Andrew Ranken, Spider Stacey, James Fearnley, Terry Woods, Jem Finer and Phillip Chevron, not to mention the influence of Lillywhite, who brings along the same production magic that worked so well for artists like U2, Morrissey and XTC.
This is the sound and style that the Pogues had been leading up to, already appearing on Top of the Pops with the Dubliners to perform the Irish Rover and getting some great notices for their previous album, the Costello produced classic Rum Sodomy & the Lash, but this seemed to go further, making the Pogues sound relevant to even mainstream radio stations, but without that nagging feeling of compromise. It's as if the band actually set out to make a more commercial record; so naturally the whole thing (melody, lyrics, instrumentation and production) have been lovingly put together and, as a result of this, the whole thing just flows perfectly to create a great listening experience that never feels laboured. For me, every song remains an absolute joy, from the title track that kicks things off (with it's potent and poetic depictions of a Spanish civil war battle ground, infused with furious instrumentation and those trademark, screaming vocals) to that perennial yuletide favourite, Fairytale of New York.
Along with the storming ode to Costa-del-excess that is Fiesta, If I Should Fall From Grace and Fairytale show the Pogues at their polished best... so, if you like these three tracks you will undoubtedly love the rest of the album. There's no filler here. It's as if Lilywhite and the band have taken everything that was great about those first two Pogues albums (Red Roses for Me is an absolute must!), cleaned them up, re-worked the arrangements and cranked up the levels so not only is the whole thing a joy to listen to, but it also makes a great party album (...particularly songs like Bottle of Smoke, South Australia and the above-mentioned Fiesta). MacGowan's writing was becoming more and more confident and evocative, even rivalling his old mate Nick Cave on tracks like Turkish Song of the Damned (in which Shane seems to be going for a personal best on the 'profanity-meter'), Fairytale of New York (a Christmas song that cuts through the schmaltz and shows the festive season to be the hellish living death that it really is), The Broad Majestic Shannon (which has a melody lifted from Fairytale and was supposed to be the follow up single... until the suits at Stiff records stepped in) and of course, the antagonistic Streets of Sorrow/Birmingham Six.
This is easily one of the most important songs in the Pogues back-catalogue, beginning as it does with Terry Woods' plaintive and poetic composition The Streets of Sorrow, which is more in tune with the traditional folk of people like Christy Moore (who has covered the song) and Ralph McTell, before an escalating drum beat and quickly strummed acoustic guitar leads us effortlessly into the MacGowan penned punk/folk/rant The Birmingham Six, which takes the titular issue head-on with confrontational, anti-establishment lyrics ("there were six men in Birmingham, in Guildford there's four, they were picked up and tortured and framed by the law... and the filth got promoted, while they're still doing time, for being Irish in the wrong place and at the wrong time"), which saw the song banned by the BBC (...which may still be in place to this day). The fact that this song seems to be missing from this re-mastered addition is criminal... let's just hope it's some 'editorial' mistake.
The integration of the different band members is here stronger than ever (Rum Sodomy & the Lash seemed to be dominated by MacGowan, whilst follow up album Peace and Love would be a much messier affair), with MacGowan writing three classics by him self as well as co-writing with Jem Finer on at least four of the standout tracks included herein. Much more surprisingly, we have the Phillip Chevron composition Thousands are Sailing, which adds a touch of contemporary power pop into the Pogue folk mix (sounding like the Cranberries or U2 if they'd been fronted by MacGowan). The song has a strong sense of evocation and a great chorus ("thousands are sailing across the western oceans, to the land of opportunity, that some of them will never see..."), whilst Chevron would go on to pen the best song on Peace and Love - that other Kirsty MacColl duet Lorelei - which made it all the more heartbreaking that Chevron didn't follow up the Pogues with a solo album.
Though I've always preferred the first two Pogues albums for their rawness and their undiluted sense of energy, I do love this particular album, which features some of the band's very best compositions and is easily the best introduction to their music. After this, the band would succumb to personal problems that would seriously affect their next two albums, Peace and Love and the Joe Strummer produced Hell's Ditch. This great re-issue (every Pogues album re-released with relevant b-sides and a re-mastered sound!!) is a perfect addition to any record collection (though those of us who already have the original CD release - which did include Streets of Sorrow/Birmingham Six - may be less inclined to make the purchase). At any rate... at this current price, who's complaining?
The pogues best
The pogues are the only band, so far as I know, to produce what can be best described as Folk/Punk folky instuments and melodys with punky vocals and attitude. This is the album that had the best of both worlds, featuring the best Christmas Single ever "Fairytale of New York" the album is original, poetic and continuously entertaining.