Jersey boy Bruce Springsteen's new disc, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, is the best Pogues record I've ever heard. I mean that as a compliment, too — I play If I Should Fall From Grace With God a lot more than I play Born to Run, and We Shall Overcome has that same perfect mix of folk directness and rock and roll energy — all it needs is a few pennywhistles and you'd swear you were listening to "Fairytale of New York." On a couple of tunes, Springsteen even tries out a growly Irish accent that makes him sound like Shane MacGowan, only a Shane MacGowan who isn't about to puke into the bass drum and pass out dangling by his shirt collar from the mike stand.
If you thought Springsteen doing an album of folk standards was going to sound like compulsory chapel and a side order of wheat germ with broccoli, then disabuse yourself of that notion immediately. This is a fun record. I bought it in Hoboken, put it in the Alpine on Observer Highway and was singing along full blast by the time I got to the Pulaski Skyway. The mix of accordion, banjo and fiddle is too infectious to believe, and everybody on the record clearly had a whale of a time - a joy they put across most effectively.
This is the New Year's Eve celebration you always wanted to be invited to, the bar where juke box has nothing but great songs and everybody sings along, and the house party that gets rolling early and doesn't let up until the morning paper hits the front door. If a record can get me to sit still for "John Henry" again, you know it's got to be good.