I’m pretty sure this was the first Bragg album I purchased. I’ve thus always had a softer spot for it than perhaps it warrants.
It contains some of his strongest tracks, mostly of the lovelorn oeuvre. Valentine’s Day is Over is biting and devastating. Must I Paint you Picture revisits an unrequited love of sorts. And The Short Answer sees Billy’s tongue firmly in his cheek, and contains one of the best opening couplets ever (“Between Marx and Marzipan in the dictionary there was Mary…”).
I could go on and on discussing the thrust of each tune, but ultimately almost all are about love gone a bit sour (other than the political Rotting on Remand). The CD almost falls into the concept album box. Bragg does a grand job of presenting each tune as different take on the overarching theme. It does, of course, beg the question why the album secured such a non-indicative title (just as the moniker also begs the “no apostrophe?” question). Perhaps the closing Waiting for Great Leap Forward answers this, as he (perhaps) parodies his working class ranting.
This is a very strong album. Its biggest weakness lies in the continuing diminution of the thrashy folk guitar.
File under: A recess to rejoice upon