The World Turned Upside Down - Billy Bragg, Rosselson, Leon
Which Side Are You On? - Billy Bragg, Reece, Florence
This collection of feisty early recordings (the Between the Wars EP and the Brewing Up LP) features England's loudest socialist folkie, usually armed only with an electric guitar and a millennium's worth of outrage, attack... more »ing those in power (lazy journalists in "It Says Here," the eternal mining aristocracy in "The World Turned Upside Down") with precision and enough energy to make even the most dogmatic lyrics sound colloquial and persuasive. Bragg is a one-man Clash here, seeking to demolish all he can and then build a better world with his electric guitar and his righteousness as the only tools he'll need. --Jimmy Guterman« less
This collection of feisty early recordings (the Between the Wars EP and the Brewing Up LP) features England's loudest socialist folkie, usually armed only with an electric guitar and a millennium's worth of outrage, attacking those in power (lazy journalists in "It Says Here," the eternal mining aristocracy in "The World Turned Upside Down") with precision and enough energy to make even the most dogmatic lyrics sound colloquial and persuasive. Bragg is a one-man Clash here, seeking to demolish all he can and then build a better world with his electric guitar and his righteousness as the only tools he'll need. --Jimmy Guterman
""Unrequited Love" is not a 'recurring' theme on Back to Basics; rather it is merely a faint idea that passes through the lyrical stories that Bragg sings about on a few of the CD's songs. And besides, 'Unrequited Love' is very real; ask just about any person who's given too much of themselves and never gotten anything back. First of all, the ideas that Bragg articulates are essential to keeping ht dialectic between right wing and left wing ideology going forward to better refine our own political ideals. Second of all, Bragg's interest in Organized Labour is not 'socialist' anyways. Organized Labour plays a crucial role in our society, as it did in the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries in England to alleviate massive amounts of human suffering and child labour in less-than-humanitarian working conditions (and it is from these roots that Bragg is writing about). Back to Basics is not 'sparse'. If you pay attention to the genre that Bragg plays for, you will understand. Bragg plays FOLK MUSIC. It is supposed to be sparse. Its about a guitar, ideas, and poetry. Not a brass band or electronic keyboard or synthesizer. Back to Basics is an excellent album for anyone interested in stretching guitar strings and the edgy nature of folk into liquid lyricism. The best songs are "Between the Wars" "A New England" (a punky like folk song about finding a new love or new girl), "Lovers Town Revisited" (an up tempo and catchy tune of a youth's petty addictions), "Turn the World Upside Down" (Bragg's version of an older song that explicates the plight of The Diggers who defied the Lords of 17th Century England that appropriated the common land from the people) and "The Busy Girl Buys Beauty".In the end, Back to Basics is a tribute to anyone who loves to just grab a guitar and hammer out some despondant tunes.. or anyone who loves to listen to that beautiful and folky sound of a lone guitar and a lone voice speaking from another place about another history."
Ziggy, the Last of the Space Cowboy | Pig Island | 12/08/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Back to Basics", a compilation of Bragg's first two albums ("Life's A Riot With Spy VS Spy" and "Brewing Up With Billy Bragg") and the "Between The Wars" EP is the one Billy Bragg CD I find myself listening to the most. Each of the 21 songs sounds rather sparse - largely just electric guitar and rough cockney vocals, with some organ and trumpet here and there. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the raw, spare arrangements are the perfect complement to Bragg's biting protest and heart-wrenching tales of young love. There are far too many standouts to mention (there is absolutely NO filler), but I'll mention a few: "Richard", "From A Vauxhall Velox" and "Strange Things Happen" are pieces of perfect punk-pop. "Island Of No Return" is a bitter Fauklands War protest song. "St. Swithin's Day", "The Myth of Trust" and "The Saturday Boy" are haunting love songs, the latter featuring beautiful, medieval-sounding trumpet. "A New England" and "Between the Wars" are two of Bragg's best known tunes, and perfect examples of his unique urban folk sound.If you're a new Billy Bragg fan, this is the album to begin with. Even if you're not that enthusiastic about Bragg, I highly recommend picking this CD up. Pure genius!"
The #1 Billy Bragg CD
Ziggy, the Last of the Space Cowboy | 09/23/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD, a collection of his first two 1980's albums, has without a doubt some of his best stuff. Plenty of great songs, a strong sense of melancholy often, some romantic songs, and for the lefties who buy this CD some great union and leftist songs ("Which Side Are You On" "Between the Wars" "The World Turned Upside Down" etc).
Though I like his more recent stuff with Wilco, Back to Basics seems more consistently enjoyable. With Bragg's mixture of folk and some British punk influence, I can listen to the CD over and over again and still enjoy it."
Ziggy, the Last of the Space Cowboy | 12/10/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The point is he was a truly great songwriting talent at the time. Tunes and lyrics that can stand up to his foghorn voice have to be outstanding. The songs are direct and honest without any sort of Elvis Costello-type contrived arsiness. I care nothing for his politics but this is still one of the best collections that has been released in the last twenty years and at the time was a real relevation; he wrote great poetry and the bare guitar with the punchy rythms were exactly the right settings."
Ziggy, the Last of the Space Cowboy | 11/04/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The songs ache, rage, lament, and lmpoon. The singing and playing is raw and too punk for folk, tearing across notes like a drunken prize fighter. Buy this brilliant music!"