Back at the beginning of April we posted the news that Billy Bragg would be appearing at The New Picket on 22nd May. At the time it seemed a long way away, but now it’s just round the corner. So we though now would be a good opportunity to remind you about the details.
Billy Bragg, with support from Alun Parry, David Rovics, and Attila The Stockbroker
Brought to you by the Working Class Music Festival and Writing On The Wall
The New Picket, 61 Jordan Street, Liverpool, L1 0BW
Now, here at Liverpool Acoustic we only review albums from local performers. However, on this one occasion we’re willing to make an exception, particularly for someone who is a great friend of the city of Liverpool, and a valuable supporter of the Working Class Music Festival. So if you were in any doubt about Billy Bragg’s musical credentials, read on…
Must I Paint You A Picture? The Essential Billy Bragg
It’s been over twenty five years since the release of Life’s A Riot With Spy Vs Spy, the debut EP by Billy Bragg. Armed with just an electric guitar and a handful of songs, his lyrics dealt with political unrest and unrequited love. The music of Billy Bragg summed up an era of Thatcherism, materialism and unemployment. His left-wing socialist stance made him a cult figure in the Eighties, a decade littered with pop acts that were style over substance. His political activism and music has worked hand in hand and if one hasn’t always subscribed to his views, at least his integrity as a performer reminds you of where you stand with him. His honest lyrical approach has characterised him as a thoughtful songwriter and performer.
It’s also easy to forget just how melodic his music really is. Ahead of his upcoming gig at The New Picket and on the back of his recent album Mr Love & Justice, it’s perhaps time again to reappraise the work of a unique artist with the two CD set Must I Paint You A Picture? The Essential Billy Bragg. Essential it certainly is! Sequenced in chronological order, it features a generous forty tracks along with a limited edition CD, making it a total of fifty tracks altogether, The set covers the first twenty years of his career, from 1983’s Life’s a Riot to the 2002 album England, Half English with The Blokes. His more recent work, such as Mermaid Avenue, is also well represented here.
The only snag on this otherwise superb compilation is the omission of She’s Leaving Home, The Beatles song that Billy recorded for the charity ‘Childline’and which gave him his only number one single in 1988. This was thanks in part to Wet Wet Wets version of With A Little Help From My Friends released as a double A-side. Nevertheless, this release is a must have for fans and serves as a worthwhile introduction to his work. The limited edition CD alone is worth the purchase (his albums have always been value for money). This set justifies Billy Bragg’s position as arguably the most important songwriter to come out of England in the past twenty five years.
Best Cuts: A New England, The Milkman Of Human Kindness, Between The Wars, Levi Stubbs Tears, Help Save The Youth Of America, Sexuality and The Space Race Is Over.
Stuart Todd runs and hosts the award-winning Liverpool Acoustic Live music events with Graham Holland. Stuart was formally in the group Triad before leaving to do solo work. In recent years he has had a successful partnership with local classical guitarist and composer Neil Campbell with whom he formed the duo Campbell Todd. He has also been in the band The Freebies and involved with a number of creative writing projects. His current band is called Three Minute Hero.