If I Should Fall from Grace with God (Expanded Edition)

If I Should Fall from Grace with God (Expanded Edition)

To borrow an anachronistic saying, the sun never sets on The Pogues’ third album, If I Should Fall from Grace with God. The group’s music is still firmly set in the Celtic folk-punk of its first two records, which had been produced by a third-generation Irishman named Declan McManus (aka Elvis Costello). But If I Should Fall, released in 1988, sees the members of the London-formed Pogues wandering further into the musical diaspora than ever before. The catalysts for the creative wayfaring found throughout If I Should Fall came from a variety of intermingled sources. “Fiesta” is based around an incessant fairground melody overheard by the bandmates while staying in the south of Spain (the tune turned out to be “Liechtensteiner Polka” by German composers Edmund Kötscher and Rudi Lindt, who’d later demand to be compensated for the unintended nick). “Turkish Song of the Damned,” meanwhile, was inspired by a malapropism in a German magazine, which vocalist Shane MacGowan and Jem Finer used as a jumping-off point for a tale of Aegean pirates swashbuckling to the sound of a faux-Middle Eastern soundtrack. Set even further abroad is “Fairytale of New York,” a Christmas duet with Kirsty MacColl, with lyrics about a disillusioned Irish-American couple in Gotham. The tune opens with a plaintive solo piano and vocal that MacGowan would claim was inspired by Ennio Morricone’s score to Once Upon a Time in America, Sergio Leone’s epic saga of Italian-American immigrants. Far and away the most well-known song in The Pogues’ catalog, the sentimental “Fairytale” was given sweeping orchestration by new producer Steve Lillywhite, whose recording technique opened up The Pogues’ sound, right at the time the band members were broadening their own perspectives. A critically acclaimed work by a band positioned to take on the world, If I Should Fall elevated The Pogues’ blend of folk and punk, celebration and savagery, romanticism and disenchantment to a level the group had never achieved before—and, by some member’s own admission, would not reach again.

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