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Billy Bragg.


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I'm quite outstanded that there hasn't been a thread on this guy yet. I even did a few searches to make sure it was true that no one had started one!

To be honest, I haven't an album of his - but I've heard bits and bobs and I love the way he is more than capable of dealing in both lyrics about love and politics (I suppose a little like HotS in that respect.).

Yeah, you may call him a lefty wanker - but he has a very soulful voice and a unique sounding solo guitar.

My favourites from him are: A New England, Between the Wars, Levi Stubbs Tears, Saturday Boy and his "gay" song Sexuality.

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I think he's a fantastic bloke but I don't really know his music. The only song of his that I know is Sexuality, which I hold in high regard.

Considering what I've just written, I really should buy something of his. Where should I start?

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Considering what I've just written, I really should buy something of his. Where should I start?

The Must I Paint You A Picture? compilation seems as good a place to start as any, preferably the 3-disc package.

I'm a fan of the stuff he did with Wilco, which is actually a load of songs based around Woodie Guthrie lyrics, but never mind that, Way Over Yonder In the Minor Key should be heard by anyone and everyone who enjoys listening to music.

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*Everyone* should have a copy of 'Back to Basics'. He's my favourite artist - ever. I was going to start a thread a while ago but didn't for some reason. I think he's written some of the most stunning lyrics ever:

"If you look the part you'll get the job,

In last year's trousers and your old school shoes."

Astonishing how much pathos and depth can be put into two lines into an already powerful song is beyond me.

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I've seen him in concert a couple of times, and he's always great.

His stuff about relationships is loads better than his political stuff IMO. Saturday Girl and St Swithins Day are both aces, along with the aforementioned Levi Stubb's Tears.

I'd go with cyd charisse, 'Must I paint you a picture' is a good starting point, although to be fair all his albums are good.

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His relationship stuff is amazing - Man in the Iron Mask is tremendous. Such real-life scenarios sung and strummed with such aplomb. Think you mean Saturday Boy, theredstar. One of my favourites (mind you, they're all my favourites): "It took me a dictionary to find out the meaning of unrequited..."

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His relationship stuff is amazing - Man in the Iron Mask is tremendous. Such real-life scenarios sung and strummed with such aplomb. Think you mean Saturday Boy, theredstar. One of my favourites (mind you, they're all my favourites): "It took me a dictionary to find out the meaning of unrequited..."

I discovered Bragg in the bigger picture after reading the lyrics for Saturday Boy that you posted in the Unrequited Loves thread - they were so astonishing I had no choice but to google them, and that's when my love really kicked off.

Previously to that I'd only heard "Between the Wars".

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Between the Wars is a terriffic song. I am glad that I introduced someone to Billy Bragg just by posting those lyrics! I'm going to repeat myself (again!) but he's my favourite lyricist ever. Cohen and Dylan and all those other song writers - fantastic; but nobody's songs connect with me in the (relatively) localised way that Billy's do. You could pick one of his songs at random and chances are it'll relate to someone in a very personal manner.

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Just shouting along to "Levi Stubb's Tears" whilst cooking tea tonight, and out of curiousity thought I'd google search what I was barking along too...

"One dark night he came home from the sea

And put a hole in her body where no hole should be

It hurt her more to see him walking out the door

And though they stitched her back together they left her heart in pieces on the

Floor"

Fair made me choke on my sausages. All that and a jangly guitar too!

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I'm a fan of the stuff he did with Wilco, which is actually a load of songs based around Woodie Guthrie lyrics, but never mind that, Way Over Yonder In the Minor Key should be heard by anyone and everyone who enjoys listening to music.

Agreed, the stuff with Wilco is brilliant and that song will reduce anyone to tears even tho it's not especially sad. His vocals on a lot of the Mermaid Avenue stuff is really good.

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  • 2 years later...

Hi. Usually I hate people who bring back thread's from 1994 or whatever, but I thought it best to do it this way then create a new one. Anyway....

I got 'Mr Love and Justice' yesterday and put the band version on my iPod (I'll listen to the solo version later) but I'm loving this.

To be honest I got it off the back of Stephen Merchant's recommendation a while back.

Anyone else got it, or can recommend any other Bragg albums?

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I've only got Life's a riot with spy vs spy and it's excellent, just beautiful. When my friend saw him live he played the whole album as an encore. A new england should be the national anthem. They re-released quite a few of his albums in 2006, they all come with bonus discs and are fairly cheap.

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"Must I Paint You A Picture" is a best of, which amazon have for just under a fiver at the moment. Has the incredible "Walk Away Renee" - just about everything that can be said about love packed into 2 minutes 25 seconds.... :lol:

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Hi. Usually I hate people who bring back thread's from 1994 or whatever, but I thought it best to do it this way then create a new one. Anyway....

I got 'Mr Love and Justice' yesterday and put the band version on my iPod (I'll listen to the solo version later) but I'm loving this.

To be honest I got it off the back of Stephen Merchant's recommendation a while back.

Anyone else got it, or can recommend any other Bragg albums?

Read up! Back to Basics.

Since I last posted in here I saw him in concert and that had a chat with him after the gig. He's a superb guy in real life, quite rare for anyone to stay behind for ages signing and chatting to fans. Top fella.

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Zany by name, zany by nature I guess.

Billy Bragg's a massively underrated lyricist and lovely bloke - think the fact that people like Johnny Marr and REM fall over themselves to work with him demonstrates there's something going on there...

Watched him perform 'Sing them back home' (think I've got the title wrong there) on The Politics Show the other day and it started me digging out some of his old stuff. I'd recommend 'Workers Playtime' as a good first album to explore. It's probably the most 'relationship-ey' one he's done and a bit of a career swerve - beautiful pop songs about girls by a leftist troublemaker - but it absolutely delivers. After that I'd give 'Don't Try this at home' - it's a bit sprawling and feels like an attempt at a breakthrough album but it's got some real nuggets on it - Tank Park Salute is probably the most lovely thing he's done, although the Peel Session version he did around the same time is perhaps the better for it's sparseness.

How's that?

And I've just realised he's 51 years old! Jesus Christ!

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  • 4 years later...

I saw Billy record an interview for a new Radio 4 show tonight. It's focus was on Talking with the Taxman about Poetry, hosted by John Wilson. It was very interesting and insightful as well as being very funny. Also featured Phil Jupitus in the audience laughing incredibly loudly and asking some good questions himself. Billy did half a dozen songs from the album in session as well.

No idea how much of it will make it onto the radio or in what form it will take, but if its half as good as what I saw live then I'd really recommend fans seek it out. Should be going out around the 30th.

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  • 5 months later...

I found it a bit of a return to form, after the rather underwhelming Mr Love and Justice.

Goodbye, Goodbye and Handyman Blues are the standout tracks at the moment, but it seems a fairly decent album at the moment. Not up with his best, but defo worth a listen.

Plus, he's touring later in the year and I've got tickets for his Brum gig.

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