B. J. Helms | Indiana, USA | 01/05/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Though I prefer the American cover, I have to admit the European cover says it all. The Pogues. If I Should Fall from Grace with God. Spelled out in a classic font. Black and red text like a Bible. On the left, we have Spider Stacy with his western string tie, his slicked back gangster hair, and his Generation whistle. These and his direct, Clint Eastwood stare look exactly like his whistle sounds: a reverb drenched keen over Finer's spaghetti western scores. Next to him stands Andrew Ranken, looking like the displaced R&B drummer he is. He doesn't get to showoff until the next album, Peace and Love, but a close listen reveals how much of the band's energy comes from his simple floor tom and snare parts. Bottom left, Daryl Hunt and his hair. Hey, Pogues or not, it was the eighties, and his hair was nothing compared to Cait's. Phillip Chevron. The odd man out even in a group of odd men. One of the two in the band with a genuine lilt, but his with strange Broadway squeal that somehow managed to harmonize with MacGowan when it was needed. And Shane in the middle, holding himself up (we won't speculate why as some are prone to) with a bodhran. It strikes me now, in 2005, how young he looked back then, beardless and broad-eared. This well-read man had a genuine gift early, which is rare for literary talents. To his right, Terry Woods with his first full-length appearance. Founding member of Sweeny's Men, who managed to beat even Fairport into the Celtic folk-rock scene. Guitar abandoned, he grips his cittern as if it and his tux are the only things separating him from these ruffians. On bended knee, Jem "Country" Finer. You can take a boy out of the country, but I doubt anyone would tell you to take the country out of Irish music after Jem made it work. He was no Earl Scruggs, but I get the feeling even Shane learned something about songwriting from this plaid-shirt wearing former computer science teacher. And last but not least, James "Maestro" Fearnley, his beautiful Hohner stretched out. Piano accordion may be a bad choice for Irish melodies, but James had something grander in mind and, by gob, he made it lilt and bounce somehow and lifted the music higher, no matter what Shane says in hindsight.
And then the album itself. Some say it's overproduced, that Lillywhite ruined The Pogues. I don't know what I can say except listen to the first eight notes of "If I Should Fall from Grace with God" and see if you can stop there and not finish the next eight or the whole song or the whole album. I couldn't. That's how I got hooked. This is the first album I heard by The Pogues, and I have only the fondest memories for it. In other words, I'm obviously biased. With little serious competition, I claim this as my favorite album of all time. Having played celtic music for 10 years now myself, I'm still amazed to find I can learn from it in composing, arranging, and engineering to this day. Pure art. A masterpiece."
One of the true classics of the 80s...
dvdtrkr | San Diego CA | 12/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Bosstones, Dropkick Murphys, Black 47, Flogging Molly, and countless other bands since have been influenced by the madness of The Pogues. The lead singer Shane MacGowan's notorious reputation for drinking and drug use and actually making it through a set has overshadowed the musicians, who are as confrontational as any punk rock band. I'd put this up against London Calling and Joshua Tree (U2's producer also worked on this one) easily because it still sounds as fresh as it did over 15 years ago.
The result is classic. It's got a great beat. The title track is a punk meets Celtic explosion. Turkish Song of the Damned gives it a middle-eastern flavor. The "Fairytale of New York" is the most known off of this, with Kirsty MacColl duetting with Shane on one of the greatest Xmas songs ever written. Any song that starts off with "It was Xmas Eve babe, in the drunk tank" HAS to be good. But it's a catchy song that you will have a hard time getting out of your head for weeks. "Metropolis" is an instrumental, and "Fiesta" is an insane punk mariachi celtic clash. Irish coffee with tequila.
The Medley and Worms are the more traditional songs but done Pogues style, and "Broad Majestic Shannon" round this one out.
Not a bad song in the bunch. Not a dull moment, and this one competes with "Rum.."as greats.
Thousands Are Sailing... to the Pogues
rjwalsh3131 | Syracuse, NY USA | 11/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Shane McGowan's vocals can be an assault on the unappreciative ear, like they were on my own. But I listened closer, thank the lord. Some may compare them to other Irish/punk outfits, but who might they be? The Pogues are a mainstay, a unique and fresh(even now)Perspective on classic rock,punk, and rooted Irish songwriting. They bridged the gap between my parents' taditional Irish tunes, and my own rock prefernces, and brought a better understanding of both. I used to hate the old Irish songs, now I devour the trad. bands, Lunasa, Altan, and Dervish. I'm drawn in to my own American tastes with better perspective, and my best band, Irish as well, U2 has remained the same, yet widened my appreciation of all music. They will always be the best.
Yet through it all, the Pogues are more like the Ramones than the Chieftans(or is it the other way around?). They are more like the Bothy Band than the Clash(or is that the other way around?) Comparisons are worthless here. There are no other Pogues(although I do recomend Shane McGowan and the Popes CD "The Snake"). The tempo is strong and aggressive. "Bottle of Smoke" is an insane whirly-gig of a drunken horse bet. "Fairytale of New York" is glorious, and pitiful, a great dancing lament. "Medley" will be the most recognised, another Irish music purist called it the "heart" of the record. The heart of the record, for me, is "Thousands Are Sailing." This is an emmigrant's song, really, a thrusting and angry ballad with soul. The Brendan Behan referance is perfect. The Pogues are Irish Music Rebels.
"Essential" Pogues is more rare, but the best introduction and compilation of great Pogues songs. If you can find it, grab it!"