Billy Bragg on KEXP from SXSW

(UPDATE: Had to delete this post and republish because my sidebar was disappearing. So I’ve lost the comments for this post. If you’re so willing, please comment again!)

Like a lot of people (I think), my introduction to Billy Bragg came from the Mermaid Avenue recordings with Wilco. My best friend has urged me to delve into Bragg’s solo work, and I have quite enjoyed Workers Playtime.

Now seems as good a time as any to explore Bragg as the great Yep Roc has rereleased his first four albums individually and as a nine-disc box set that includes two bonus DVDs with previously unavailable live footage.

So dig into this set performed live on KEXP Thursday from SXSW, which includes a new song I Keep Faith. Also, visit Chromewaves for a recap of Bragg’s Toronto concert with the usual assortment of great photos by Frank.

(In the interest of server space, I didn’t include the interview, but I encourage you to visit KEXP and find the archive stream to listen. Some songs include a little chatter/intro before each.)

Also, he plays Way Over Yonder, a song from the Mermaid sessions, but never mentions Wilco. If I remember from reading the Wilco book Learning How to Die, the relationship between Wilco and Bragg soured by the end of the project. Does anyone know if that’s true?

Billy Bragg from SXSW, on KEXP, 3/16/06:
1. A Lover Sings
2. Shirley
3. Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key
5. I Keep Faith (new song)
6. A New England

11 thoughts on “Billy Bragg on KEXP from SXSW”

  1. “Workers’ Playtime” is Billy “solo”, but Billy “solo” is Billy solo. Keep digging back into his early stuff.

    I remember being amazed when a backing vocal and a trumpet flourish and a piano appeared on “Talking With the Taxman About Poetry”. This was back in the time of vinyl.

    Nice to see a re-issue of his first albums. “Back to Basics” is another CD that compiles all his earliest pretty much.

    ‘It Says Here’, ‘A New England’, ‘The World Turned Upside Down’ and ‘The Saturday Boy’ are just some of Billy’s great tunes from back then. ((Wait, there is a trumpet on ‘The Saturday Boy’. Exception that makes the rule and a sign of things that followed I guess.))

    Don’t get me wrong, I still listen to “Workers Playtime”, and “Talking With the Taxman About Poetry”.

    Seeing Billy live was a two-fer. You got a rock show and a stand-up routine for one ticket. Mind you, you had to appreciate socialism and to think giving Maggie the bird was comedy. I saw my first “Lick Bush” bumper sticker on the back of his guitar in 1988 during a coinciding tour/election campaign. I suppose he figured Canadians would appreciate it as much.

  2. Thanks for a great posting. I used to see Billy Bragg at demos and benefit gigs in the mid ’80s. You never had to pay to see him then!

    Is there a problem with the track links? I managed to download tracks 3-6 but every subsequent attempt to get 1 & 2 is refused. What’s going on?

  3. Hmmmmm … Zen, keep trying. Sometimes the host, EZarchive, acts up. Lemme know if you’re still unable to get ’em.

  4. Update – Ditched using Flashget as my download manager. Went for good, old-fashioned, “right-click save-as”. No probs. Thanks again. Cheers, Kevin.

  5. agree w/ jems — Bragg’s “anti-folk” material from the early Eps & albums is simply awesome. especially like “New England” and “Milkman of Human Kindness,” orig issued on his second Ep, I believe.

    great post. cool to hear these live tracks.

  6. Thank you, lovely post. I first saw Billy play in the summer of 1985. I haven’t seen him now for fifteen years, but I’m going again next month and your post, and the chromewaves one you link to, are making me look forward to it all the more, if such a thing were possible. There are a few Bragg songs on my blog if you’re missing them, and more if you ask!

  7. thanks for posting these. i was there! billy was great and stuck around to chat after. it was a highlight of sxsw for sure.

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