No list relating to Billy Bragg can possibly be made without referring to and checking in with Dr Classic. ‘Who is she?’ I hear you ask …. Who is Dr Classic? Well, she is only one of Melbournes great multi-instrumentalist (Drums, bass, guitar, keys, violin etc). Aside from being a one-person band, she can play any style of musice (from Classical, bluegrass, rock and beyond!) and.. yes there is more.. She is also Multidisciplinary artist (Canvas, photography etc..) but most importantly, Dr Classic is the person who not only introduced me to Billy Bragg, but did so by way of a cassette dub of the ‘workers playtime’ LP !
Say no more!
So… here is the Dr Classic approved, Six reasons to love Billy Bragg.
1: Levi Stubbs tears.
This tune has it all; story, simple but great guitar part, Billy (of course),
a French horn and a great opening line-
‘With the money from her accident she brought herself a mobile home….. 2: The great leap forward.
This tune is brilliant and inspiring… sing it loud and proud..
‘you can be active with the activist or sleep in with sleepers while you waiting
for the great leap forwards…’...‘Here comes the future and you can’t run from it,
you’ve got a black list, I want to be on it!!’..
Originally off the ‘Workers Playtime’ LP, Billy is known to update his lyrics and make
them more politically relevant, as he does in this great live version with Ian Mclagan
(from the ‘Small Faces’) on keys!!!
The sound and picture Quality aren’t ideal, but it is well worth a view!
3: Greetings to the new brunette
How can you not sing a long? “Shirley!!!!”.
Also full of brilliant lines like ‘I’m celebrating my love for you with a pint of beer
and a new tattoo’… Brilliant!
4: Valentines day is over. (Peel Sessions)
This version is live on the late great John Peel’s radio show. Just Billy, a guitar
and a lot of great lines like;
‘Don’t come around reminding me again how brittle bone is’ and
'That brutality and the economy are related now, I understand’.
5: New England. The opening line of this was borrowed from Paul Simon’s ‘The leaves that are green’,
I read somewhere that he wrote away and obtained permission…
which makes me love and respect them both even more!!.. anyway.. The rest of the
lyrics are all Billy…
“I saw two shooting stars last night and wished on them, but they were only satellites,
is it wrong to wish on space hardware? I wish, I wish, I wish you’d care…”
6: Accident waiting to happen. (live on ‘Tonight live with Steve Vizard’) This clip was recorded live on Melbourne’s now defunct ‘Tonight live with Steve Vizard’!!
At least something good came out of the program!!
Sing along loudly!! “Your life has lost it’s dignity, beauty and it’s passion!!!”…
‘You’re a dedicated swallow of fascism!’
There you have 6 great reasons to love Billy Bragg !!
I did want to include the brilliant B side 'sulk' (off the single ‘accident waiting to happen’)
but I could not find a clip on You tube.
As a huge thank you to the good Dr Classic for her guidance and her time.
I wanted to include two bonus Billy Bragg tunes, selected by the wise Dr herself,
so you know these are going to be QUALITY!
This first one is “The unwelcome guest”. It is off the Billy Bragg and Wilco collaboration
“Mermaid Avenue” in which they wrote music to unheard lyrics by Woody Guthrie.
The next Bonus Dr Classic tune is “The Marriage”.
This is off the great LP ‘Talking with the taxman about poetry’. If you aren’t a convert by now, have no fear comrade,
‘if no one out there understands, start your own revolution and cut out the middle man’.
After all, in our own way we’re all waiting for the great leap forward.