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Tradition, meet punk

If I Should Fall From Grace With God
If I Should Fall From Grace With God
By the Pogues

Island Records: 1987

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This review first appeared in the September 9, 1988 issue of the San Diego Evening Tribune.

The eight band members comprising the Pogues look the very part of adult versions of Dickensian orphans. And their Gaelic folk-based punk sounds like it could have come from a centuries-old working-class neighborhood in Ireland.

The lilting rhythms and traditional instrumentation is more than a gimmick for cheap re-hashers – the Pogues perform their own material, albeit set within a traditional framework, updated with a punk sensibility.

On "If I Should Fall From Grace With God" finds leader/vocalist Shane MacGowan's raspy voice leading the band through as rough and tumble a set as they've done.

"Fairytale of New York," about two elderly street dwellers watching the world around them celebrate Christmas while they think of the dreams they had as kids, is as poignant an observation on life's disappointments as you're likely to ever hear.

While nothing should ever be entirely unexpected with the Pogues, the Castilian harmonies and rhythms and Spanish vocals on "Fiesta" is a bit of a surprise coming from a group of Micks. Even more odd is the only instrumental, "Metropolis." It's based on themes from old action adventure movie soundtracks set over traditional Celtic rhythms.

Still, if it works ...