83. Billy Bragg – “Talking with the Taxman about Poetry”

Starting the long sequence of Bragg-related reviews revealed something quite stunning (well to me anyway). I don’t own his Back to Basics album in any format that I can currently listen to (I only have it on a cassette that used to get a lot of airplay). This will prompt a purchase in the coming days I suspect.

talking_with_the_taxman_about_poetry-billy-bragg-album-coverSo, we’ll kick off with his second album. This was his first with any substantial accompaniment beyond guitar. It is also probably his most representative release. It is chock full of classics.

The Bragg modus operandi is to deliver on one of two possible fronts. Either the song is a heartfelt examination of love gone wrong. Alternatively, he dons the cape of social crusader, representing the great unwashed but noble working classes.

The balance on this album is pretty even on each front. The music is more varied with a bit of piano and strings, and Billy sings more than shouts.

As I said, this is laden with some of his best tunes. Levi Stubbs’ Tears showcases a miserable marriage perfectly. Greetings To The New Brunette contains some great lines. There Is Power In A Union is rousing and Ideology biting.

The album trails off considerably in the latter half, this reducing its wow factor. Nevertheless, this is a strong testament to Bragg’s capacity to pen a great tune. I doubt there are too many more albums in my collection from which I could recall more lyrics.

File under: Righteous and rollicking

One response to “83. Billy Bragg – “Talking with the Taxman about Poetry”

  1. But this isn’t Billy Bragg’s second album. It states right on the cover that its his “Difficult Third Album.”

    I love this record so much. “Levi Stubbs’ Tears” might be his greatest song. “Greetings to the New Brunette is also breathtaking.

    Do yourself a favour, in addition to “Back to Basics” you need to get “Life’s A Riot With Spy vs. Spy” and “Brewing Up With Billy Bragg.”
    This is a man who deserves to have all of his albums owned by everyone.

    He also puts on a great show for just one guy with a guitar.

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