Never Buy The Sun

Not content with merely propping up the most dangerously stupid Government in history, and having already hounded one woman out of the country this year, we learn today that a female celebrity has committed suicide following constant targeting from the red tops.

Billy knows what and what not to do:

Billy Bragg – Never Buy The Sun

More soon.

Billy’s Uncle

For my sins, given how badly they’ve played so far this season, I’m off to watch Tottenham in the Champions League.

Ordinarily, a football related post would most appropriately be accomanied by a tune by Half Man Half Biscuit, who have a wealth of footie-related references spattered all over their back catalogue.

But not today.

For tonight’s opponents – Red Star Belgrade – bring one particular song to mind, and a rhyming couplet which I’ve not been able to get out of my head since I got a DM on Twitter from my old mate Richie asking me if I wanted to go.

This one:

Billy Bragg – Sexuality

More soon.

How (Not?) To Do A Cover Version

I’m a little torn about whether this is a good or a bad cover version.

The problem is that both versions are by the same person.

In 1986, Billy Bragg released this as the second single from his “difficult” (but brilliant) third album, Talking with the Taxman about Poetry:

Billy Bragg – Greetings to the New Brunette

But then later – and I must confess, I’ve been trying to establish where this version first appeared, with no success (it probably tells me on the album on which it appears that I own a copy of, but as all my CDs are currently boxed away I can’t be arsed with digging it out) – he re-recorded it with a full band, and whilst he was at it, he re-titled it too:

Billy Bragg – Shirley

See, it’s not a terrible version, and in many ways I think it benefits from the full band treatment.

But here’s two reasons why the original is better:

  1. It has Johnny Marr playing guitar on it, and
  2. It has Kirsty MacColl doing backing vocals on it.

I rest my case.

More soon.

Hey Hey Hey, Here Comes Richard

Back in 1983, Billy Bragg released the very wonderful Life’s a Riot with Spy vs. Spy, seven tracks of love and politics, all just Billy and his trusty electric guitar.

In October 2013, it got the 30th Anniversary remaster and re-release treatment. As a bonus, it included the EP being played in it’s entirety, recorded live at London’s Union Chapel earlier that year.

And in between these two dates, sometime in either late 1986 or early 1987, I was introduced to the charms of Billy by my mate Richard.

Other than my father and my brother, and much later LlÅ·r, Rich was possibly the greatest influence on my musical taste. It was he who first played me The Smiths (of whom I was aware, but generally indifferent to), and, on the same evening, it was he who first played Billy Bragg to me (ditto).

And today, it’s Richard’s 50th birthday.

So here are those live tracks from that 30th Anniversary reissue, in the order he played them (which isn’t the order they appeared on the original release – he jiggles around with it to ensure A New England, complete with bonus verse “for Kirsty”, rounds things off nicely), complete with an explanatory introduction from Billy himself, which is just as well as he absolutely rips through the rest of the set:

Billy Bragg – Intro (Live)

Billy Bragg – Lovers Town Revisited (Live)

Billy Bragg – To Have and to Have Not (Live)

Billy Bragg – The Busy Girl Buys Beauty (Live)

Billy Bragg – The Man in the Iron Mask (Live)

Billy Bragg – Richard (Live)

Billy Bragg – The Milkman of Human Kindness (Live)

Billy Bragg – A New England (Live)

Happy 50th birthday, my old fruit.

And thank you.

More soon.

Believe

There was a really interesting article in The Guardian on Friday, detailing some of the rather more unconventional methods Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino has used during the team’s training sessions in the build up to today, which focus on increasing the players belief and faith in themselves.

Pochettino – and, indeed, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp – are both men of religious faith, but some of the methods mentioned here (walking on hot coals and breaking arrow tips with your neck) go a little beyond that in my book.

That’s not a criticism, especially not should we win, they just raised an eyebrow in Dubious Taste Towers.

Some fairly predictable songs, then:

EMF – I Believe

And final-ly…

More soon.

Ivor Gift for You

Last weekend (or was it the weekend before, I lose track so easily these days) I was at a friend’s 40th birthday. The DJ, a very lovely friend of mine, played Kirsty MacColl’s version of A New England. I was stood at the bar, awaiting service, when I became aware that a couple next to me were singing along to it, with pleasingly appropriate gusto.

It always fills my heart with joy, that. Not just to hear that record, but to witness others loving it as much as I do.

Prepare to have the wind sucked out of your sails.

The guy called to his spouse: “It’s a Billy Bragg song, but I’ve no idea who’s singing this.”

The woman shrugged.

I couldn’t help myself.

“Kirsty MacColl. It’s Kirsty MacColl. Famously, it’s Kirsty MacColl.” I spluttered/interjected.

“Is it?” the chap answered.

I braced myself for the follow-up “What’s she up to now?” question.

But instead, this, from his lady friend:

“He’s due a come-back, isn’t he, old Billy?”

I have rarely had to bite my tongue so hard.

“He’s never gone away….!” was all I could proffer.

And as proof, this week Billy has been given the Outstanding Contribution To British Music at this year’s Ivor Novello Awards.

Billy is a man who has stayed true to his principles whilst never losing the knack for bashing out a truly great tune.

I bloody love Billy.

Here’s one such great tune which features not only the dulcet tones of Ms. MacColl on backing vocals, but also one Johnny Marr, who plays guitar. Obviously.

billy-bragg-greetings-to-the-new-brunette-lineBilly Bragg – Greeting to the New Brunette

And here’s a slightly reworked version, which crops up on his B-Side heavy compilation, Reaching to the Converted (and probably, therefore, on a B-side somewhere, but I can’t be arsed with finding out which one):

R-803889-1433016018-4715_jpeg

Billy Bragg – Shirley

“How can you lie there and think of England when you don’t even know who’s in the team?” What a lyric.

Congrats Billy, this is long overdue.

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Let’s be honest, it was only a matter of time before I got round to posting this.

Bragg, Stipe and Buck having some fun:

billy-bragg-you-woke-up-my-neighbourhood-liberation

Billy Bragg – You Woke Up My Neighbourhood

I don’t usually post videos in this series, but I’m gonna this time for two reasons:

  1. The appearance of a rather young and svelte Phill Jupitus, who I assume also directed (as he did with Billy’s Sexuality video)
  2. The inclusion of those facts that The Chart Show used to wang up on screen. Y’know, just to make us all yearn for simpler times when people didn’t throw dead fish into the Thames to try and make a political point.

More soon.