I saw Billy tour this album. I saw him play two nights in a row in Melbourne. One show was a sit-down affair (t The Palais) with an emphasis on his earlier work, while the second show featured a more raucous full-band, rocking performance in a beerhall type venue (The Palace).
I have strong memories of enjoying both shows. Yet this album does very little for me now. In fact, it annoys me more than anything else. Billy has well and truly abandoned the key elements that made him fun to listen to.
Gone is the folk-punky guitar and vocals combo in favour of a full band, a pretty overblown MOR rock sound and genuine attempts to sing. The cheeky, strident and winsome songwriting loses out to much more predictable and dull numbers. The ‘progression’ is disappointing. Instead of angry and heartbroken, Bragg just comes across as self-indulgent and tired. And more than his earlier work, this album has dated terribly.
It is not all awful. The singles (Sexuality, North Sea Bubble) are passable, while Wish You Were Her is quite touching.
Thinking back to those gigs, perhaps I just enjoyed the older tunes?
File Under: Disappointing