The Pogues

If I Should Fall from Grace with God

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If Rum Sodomy & the Lash captured the Pogues on plastic in all their rough-and-tumble glory, If I Should Fall from Grace with God proved they could learn the rudiments of proper record making and still come up with an album that captured all the sharp edges of their musical personality. Producer Steve Lillywhite imposed a more disciplined approach in the studio than Elvis Costello had, but he had the good sense not to squeeze the life out of the band in the process; as a result, the Pogues sound tighter and more precise than ever, while still summoning up the glorious howling fury that made Rum Sodomy & the Lash so powerful. And Shane MacGowan continued to grow as a songwriter, as his lyrics and melodies captured with brilliant detail his obsession with the finer points of Anglo-Irish culture. "Fairytale of New York," a glorious sweet-and-sour duet with Kirsty MacColl, and "The Broad Majestic Shannon" were subtle in a way many of his previous work was not, "Birmingham Six" found him addressing political issues for the first time (and with all the expected venom), and "Fiesta" and "Turkish Song of the Damned" found him adding (respectively) faux-Spanish and Middle Eastern flavors into the Pogues' heady mix. And if you want to hear the Pogues blaze through some fast ones, "Bottle of Smoke" and the title song find them doing just what they've always done best. Brilliantly mixing passion, street smarts, and musical ambition, If I Should Fall from Grace with God is the best album the Pogues would ever make.

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