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Billy Bragg - Volume 1

Billy Bragg, Volume One

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

ARMED with only a cheap electronic guitar, Billy Bragg has emerged as a one-man, punk-folk activist of widespread acclaim.

Quintessentially English, yet seldom afraid to point out injustice, political wrong-doing or social ineptitude, the artist has amassed a cult following that has helped to place him at the forefront of the UK music scene.

The acclaimed singer-songwriter has now decided to release four of his earliest and most acclaimed albums on Billy Bragg Volume 1, a boxed set featuring seven CDs and two DVDs, as well as a wealth of rare and previously tracks.

All four albums will also be available as individual releases on the same day.

The collection chronicles Bragg’s contribution to the political and cultural ferment of the ‘80s, when his sound inspired many artists.

Needless to say, there are plenty of highlights, from seminal track New England, to the deep folk of Deportees.

Throughout, Bragg’s raw, brutal honesty shines through, as does that distinct voice that succeeds in delivering every track with gusto – no matter what you may think of it.

Occasionally, he drops in other instruments, such as a piano on Blake’s Jerusalem, or horns elsewhere, but its his guitar that comes to the fore on most occasions – particularly drawing rousing moments such as Help Save The Youth of America, which is built around the same hooks that made The Clash’s I Fought The Law such an enduring classic.

Bragg is set to follow the release of this Volume 1 with a Hope Not Hate tour in April – his first UK tour in two years.

It will support three of the UK’s leading anti-fascist organisations.

Until that time, this expansive retrospective should keep fans mightily satisfied – while possibly winning the artist an increasing army of admirers.

Track listing:
Disc: 1

  1. Milkman Of Human Kindness
  2. To Have And To Have Not
  3. Richard
  4. New England
  5. Man In The Iron Mask
  6. Busy Girl Buys Beauty
  7. Lovers Town Revisited

Disc: 2

  1. Strange Things Happen
  2. Cloth
  3. Love Lives Here
  4. Speedway Hero
  5. Loving You Too Long
  6. This Guitar Says Sorry
  7. Love Gets Dangerous
  8. Cloth
  9. Man In The Iron Mask
  10. A13 Trunk Road To The Sea
  11. Fear Is A Man’s Best Friend

Disc: 3

  1. It Says Here
  2. Love Gets Dangerous
  3. Myth Of Trust
  4. From A Vauxhall Velox
  5. Saturday Boy
  6. Island Of No Return
  7. St. Swithin’s Day
  8. Like Soldiers Do
  9. This Guitar Says Sorry
  10. Strange Things Happen
  11. Lover Sings

Disc: 4

  1. It Must Be A River
  2. Won’t Talk About It
  3. Talking Wag Club Blues
  4. You Got The Power
  5. Last Time
  6. Back To The Old House
  7. Lover Sings
  8. Which Side Are You On
  9. It Says Here
  10. Between The Wars
  11. World Turned Upside Down

Disc: 5

  1. Greetings To The New Brunette
  2. Train Train
  3. Marriage
  4. Ideology
  5. Levi Stubbs’ Tears
  6. Honey I’m A Big Boy Now
  7. There Is Power In A Union
  8. Help Save The Youth Of America
  9. Wishing The Days Away
  10. Passion
  11. Warmest Room
  12. Home Front

Disc: 6

  1. Sin City
  2. Deportees
  3. There Is Power In A Union
  4. Tracks Of My Tears
  5. Wishing The Days Away
  6. Clashing Of Ideologies
  7. Greetings To The New Brunette
  8. Nurse’s Life Is Full Of Woe
  9. Only Bad Signs
  10. Hold The Fort

Disc: 7

  1. Internationale
  2. I Dreamed I Saw Phil Ochs Last # Nght
  3. Marching Song Of The Covert Battalions
  4. Blake’s Jerusalem
  5. Nicaragua Nicaraguita
  6. Red Flag
  7. My Youngest Son Came Home Today
  8. Intro
  9. Help Save The Youth Of America
  10. Think Again
  11. Chile Your Waters Run Red Through Soweto
  12. Days Like These
  13. To Have And To Have Not
  14. There Is Power In A Union – Bragg, Billy & The Pattersons
  15. Joe Hill
  16. This Land Is Your Land
  17. Never Cross A Picket Line #. Change Is Gonna Come
  18. Miner’s Life

Disc: 8

  1. There Is Power In A Union (1)
  2. Between The Wars (1)
  3. Nicaragua Nicaraguita (1)
  4. I Heard It Through The Grapevine
  5. To Have And To Have Not (1)
  6. Which Side Are You On
  7. Between The Wars
  8. Between The Wars (2)
  9. World Turned Upside Down (1)
  10. Levi Stubbs Tears (1)
  11. Help Save The Youth Of America (1)
  12. New England (1)
  13. Wishing The Days Away (1)
  14. People Get Ready/Tupelo Honey
  15. Star
  16. A13 Trunk Road To The Sea (1)

Disc: 9

  1. To Have And To Have Not
  2. A13 Trunk Road To The Sea
  3. Island Of No Return
  4. Lover Sings
  5. New England
  6. Lovers Town Revisited
  7. Levi Stubbs Tears
  8. It Says Here
  9. Island Of No Return
  10. Which Side Are You On
  11. Love Gets Dangerous
  12. Richard
  13. Train Train
  14. New England