Friday, November 15, 2013

FDF Volume 4 Issue 325 - Billy Bragg - Don't Try This At Home

Album – Don't Try This At Home
Artist – Billy Bragg
Key Players - Billy Bragg – guitars, vocals
Produced By – Grant Showbiz

Release Date – September 17, 1991

Overview - This is the fourth full length record by UK “urban folk” artist Billy Bragg. Bragg who is known to combine folk and punk rock to create “protest” songs. All this is a bit of pigeonhole for a diverse artist. In the late 1970s Bragg was in a punk band and playing sparse gigs. He'd join the Army but would leave after three months. He started to “busk” around London and recorded a demo tape and by 1984 and official ep was released. He'd release a few more records and by 1996 he had taken some time off to raise his son. Around this time Bragg got together with Wilco to do what would end up being two releases of songs based off incomplete Woodie Guthrie songs. He released a new record in March of 2013.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) – A sprawling 16 song albums that blends some of the most rowdy political rock you've come across. Opening with "Accident Waiting to Happen"  the choppy guitars and Braggs long drawl are immediate stand outs. People often say “how come UK bands never sing the way they sound when speaking?? Well Bragg does. It adds to the charm, and the guitarist pushes the speed and vocal delivery. Its a great opener to this record. It mellows some with “Moving the Goalposts” a calmer, acoustic picked track with some strings to fill out the sound. Peter Buck
(R.E.M) plays a fine mandolin on “Everywhere” and it is a focal point for sure. Bragg seems to lay out the records well with burners, then mid-tempo “thinking man” songs.  Johnny Marr plays the electric guitar on “Cindy of a Thousand Lives” while Kristy MacColl offers backing vocals. The song has a nice extended solo and the strings are really solid to fill it out. I've noted he's done that before, but when you are know for acoustic guitar political songs, its a noticeable trait. We get an REM tandem on "You Woke Up My Neighbourhood" .   Buck returns on the mandolin and Michael Stipe sings backing vocals. This was a very early favorite on the record when I first heard it and it continues to cause a massive grin. The chorus alone is worth it. “Trust” and “God's Footballer” are on that mellower side. “Trust” has clarinet and harmonica, while the latter finds pluck stringed instruments and keyboards.  “The Few” has Bragg in fine form and once again pulling in various instruments with trombone that is pushed right to the front. If there is one song that would be know by Billy Bragg by the masses it would have to be "Sexuality". A rollicking fun run that has the return of Marr and MacColl in their roles and one of the most infectious songs, and song titles of the early 1990s. Soak it in all over dear readers. Another great track that may have been missed is "Mother of the Bride". The song is about a man that sees the woman he loves marrying someone else, and his mother realizing he would be better suited than the man she is marrying. Its an acoustic guitar, foot stomping of a song. The line about him seeing the couple after being married..with “he looked boring and she looked bored” are one of the most brilliant lines ever sung in a break up song...even though its not a break up song. After the last two more rocking songs we pull back some with the piano led “Tank Park Salute” which also is the style of “Dolphins” which follows.  "North Sea Bubble"  is one of my favorite songs on the record, probably top 2 or 3. The urgency, the hooks, the whole feel just grabs me to this day. Over and over again. On come the strings and we calm it down again for “Rumors of War”. The music might be quiet/calm but the lyrics are heavy and the strings give it that chilling feel. “Wish you Were Her” has Bragg surrounded by bass, guitar and four backing vocalists for the fullest, largest group of performers on a single album track. The album closes with “Body of Water” a track that opens with the chorus so you know Bragg means business and goes out on a high note with an up tempo run of acoustic and electric guitar blasts.

Where are they now? - As noted Billy continues to write and perform. His latest album “Mr Love & Justice” was released on March 18, 2013. He is married, has a son, loves football and is still politically active.

FDF Overall Take - I tend to like the more uptempo stuff from Bragg, and this record has a fair number of songs. They are all well crafted and are fun to listen to, and you might even learn something. I don't know a ton about his catalog but if you were to say you have this record in your collection I'd totally get it.

Links “Find out More”, Follow em and Buy

Official Site

Disclaimer – I am just a music fan. Feel free to comment about something that may be written incorrectly about the band/members etc. I strive to have a fun and enjoyable site. This site used to post mp3s but ran in to many issues. The audio clips provided are usually from YouTube. No copy write infringement is intended. Please alert me if something should be pulled. Finally, support the artist featured, or your favorite artist by purchasing their music, seeing their shows if possible and saying hi. They need your support.


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