Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Crazy World of Billy Bragg: part two

Brewing Up With Billy Bragg comes I think from after the Conservative government's landslide re-election. Maybe the sense that Thatcherism is not going to be a passing fad drives Bragg towards some striking political tunes, notably 'It Says Here' (about the British press) and 'Island of No Return', a searing piece on the Falkland's War.

'Island of No Return' in lyrical content is not that dissimilar to Elvis Costello's 'Shipbuilding', though musically it is much harsher. It is striking, though, that the short Falkland's War produced these two great songs, while nothing really seems to have come out of the Iraq occupation or the War on Fear. I wonder why this is the case.

The bonus CD with this one includes the Between The Wars e.p., covers of two older political songs and the title track. 'Between the Wars' is like a distillation of all Bragg's political ideas – angry, hopeful, na├»ve, nostalgic. Of the other two, 'The World Turned Upside Down' evokes radical groups of the English Civil War period; if you are a folkie then you may have heard Dick Gaughan sing this.

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