Sunday, September 25, 2011

Great Debut Albums....Part 3

Appearing during a low point in UK music history, Life's a Riot with Spy vs Spy took the music back to basics - just Billy Bragg and an electric guitar. Life’s a Riot presented Bragg as an unlikely cross between Woody Guthrie and Joe Strummer — one guy with a handful of songs, a powerful belief in the common people, and a big distorted electric guitar, blasting out songs about love and politics.Play it today and it still crackles with an immediate, righteous energy.

Life's a Riot played a huge part in forging my worldview and sadly so little of what he was singing about back in 1983 has changed. Seething with anger and sexual frustration, Billy's songs spoke to the young and alienated for whom the Thatcher revolution meant nothing. The songs still stand up today particularly the classic New England, The Busy Girl Buys Beauty, Lovers Town Revisited and To Have and To Have Not which is unfortunately as relevant now as it was twenty five years ago.

At a mere seven songs and 16 minutes, Life's a Riot is a short release but somehow seems just right. His broad Essex accent increases the coarse appeal, accentuating the reality of the songs and providing the perfect conduit for a suite of lyrics that matched polemic with romantic observation. If you like your music cut back to the raw and full of emotion this is the Bragg album to have.

Billy Bragg - To Have And To Have Not

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