Peace And Love

The Pogues

Island Records, 1989

http://www.pogues.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/31/1998

It's been a while since I wrote about The Pogues, a pleasant little Irish band that I got into thanks to a teacher buddy of mine in high school. (I often wonder how Buzz is doing these days. If anyone knows Buzz Hunter in Illinois, please drop me a line.) In 1989, while I was in college radio, I was fortunate enough to get the chance to play their then-new release Peace And Love for an audience of about - oh, twelve people each week. (Hey, may as well pull no punches about it.)

In this album, you can hear the steady decline that lead singer/resident alcoholic Shane MacGowan was involved in, and the balance of power in the band shifting. (The liner notes don't tell much about instrumentation and vocals except for band members' names, so sorry if this seems a tad deficient.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Peace And Love showed a band that was interested in expanding the definitions of what Irish music was. You can hear this in the jazz-influenced opener "Gridlock," which shows off the powerful instrumental skills of this band. Frankly, this makes thing much more interesting than if The Pogues had stuck to doing nothing but jigs; the variety adds more flavor to the album and keeps things interesting.

MacGowan still has a solid influence on this album, though more and more you find yourself needing the lyric sheet to understand just what he was singing. Happily slurring his way through songs like "London You're A Lady" and "USA", he still demonstrates just how important he is to The Pogues. Songs like "Down All The Days" and "Night Train To Lorca," a song I had forgotten how much I enjoyed until I pulled this tape out of the Pierce Archives recently, are fine examples of how attitude can overcome diction in a vocal.

This is not to say that the non-MacGowan-sung tracks off Peace And Love are bad by any means. "Blue Heaven" offered a glimpse into the direction the band would take after MacGowan's sacking on Waiting For Herb, while more traditional numbers like "Misty Morning, Albert Bridge" show how enjoyable Irish music can actually be.

The second half of Peace And Love isn't quite as strong as the first, though songs like "Lorelei" and "Boat Train" are hardly wastes in any sense. But, in a sense, you could hear things starting to unravel a little bit on this portion of the album.

Once again, Steve Lillywhite's production work is just as important to The Pogues as the tin whistle or a bottle of good whiskey; his mastery of their sound helps to bring out the pure joy in their music that much more.

 

Peace And Love is presently only available as an import, but is definitely worth spending the extra few dollars for (at least until it sees the light of day in America again). It might have been the last solid performance MacGowan gave with the band, and it might not have been as strong as their predecessor If I Should Fall From Grace With God, but it was still a solid follow-up, and remains a pleasing album.

Rating: B+

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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Island Records, and is used for informational purposes only.