Alternative music reviews

Billy Bragg

The Essential Billy Bragg Oct 2003

I have a problem with this Billy Bragg release. The problem is I find a lot of Billyís stuff unlistenable. I donít know whether itís his voice, or the lack of musical interest I get from just him on guitar and vocals, but I had trouble in facing listening to the three CDs (it includes a bonus live collection). But time has softened me, and Iíve developed a soft spot for him as a maverick musical talent. That first Mermaid Avenue album with Wilco is one of my favourite records. There are two songs with Billy and Wilco for me to enjoy and from the others I love the wistfulness of A New England and The Boy Done Good is a great song. Anyone who quite likes Billy Bragg and grew up with his music will appreciate this collection, it really covers the full range of his work. I see it as a coffee table CD: a remembrance of lost youth for the late thirties/early forties generation. Heís no new kid in the neighbourhood and you know if you like him and, if you do, then this is a great collection.

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