FOLK THE POGUE WAY
What's to be done with an eight- piece Irish group (with half the members Englishmen) that punks like rockers, croons like Clancy's and starts its new album with "Gridlock," a big-band vamp?
Sit back and have a pint and enjoy it, that's what.
The Pogues are back, with more mayhem of the Irish untraditional folk-music sort. As it was with its predecessors, "Peace and Love" is a record of sometimes garish but ultimately glorious extremes. This group doesn't play Irish folk as much as it assaults it, ravaging it and in the process evoking the ancient sorrows and joys that inspire it to the present day.
Because Irish and, by extension, Celtic and English folk tunes have been a primary source of many Western musical forms, the Pogues content themselves with playing any and many of them.
Thus, on the grand sweep of "Misty Morning, Albert Bridge," the group is almost Beatles-esque in its pop-ness, while on "Cotton Fields," it rants like the Clash (if that group had had tin whistles and an accordion). "USA" teems with tense, terse vocals and brooding beats, while "London, You're a Lady" comes with the slogging swagger of a pub band (which the group once was, in the brash days of its youth).
Through it all, Shane MacGowan struts a vocal braggadocio that is the perfect foil for the group's traditional tendencies. On such folk-tinged pieces as "White City" and "Gartloney Rats," he makes the songs bristle with the contradictory feelings of world-weariness and wit that are at the core of Irish music. ''Peace and Love" is eclectic but in a thoroughly unselfconscious way. This is, at its core, simply folk music made by folk musicians who like to make it; who make it any way they feel like making it. That is the only way to make any music.
Copyright 1989, San Jose Mercury News
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