"Billy Bragg is an unabashed socialist. His politics are reflected in not only his music, but in the choice of the music of others that he performs. So it's no surprise that Bragg recorded these versions of classic songs from the socialist, labor and anti-war movements. Songs like the "People's Flag", "March of the Covert Battalions" and "The Internationale" make good listening. However, Bragg somewhat misses the mark by tampering with the words and melodies of some of the classics. For example, how many people know the historical significance and the words to "The Internationale"? Instead of educating those who would like to know, Bragg chooses to update the song by writing new words to the tune (and tell us that Pete Seeger told him to do it). Perhaps he could have offerred two versions for the listener. This would have made a stronger (and longer-the album is very short)and more interesting album. With "The People's Flag". Bragg mentions in the liner notes that what we know as "Oh, Tannenbaum ("Oh, Christmas Tree") was "The People's Flag" rewritten. So does Bragg reclaim the melody for those who would hear it? No. He writes a new melody. Bragg takes a similar misstep with "I dreamed I saw Phill Ochs Last Night". He doesn't sing the original "I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night" which tells of Hill's role in the Union organizing struggles of the early part of the century. He changes the lyrics to honor lefty musician Phil Ochs. Although "The Internationale" is good-and inspiring-listening, the brevity of the record and the liberty Bragg takes with artistic interpretation could leave the listener wanting more."
Billy's finest recording?
Richard R. Johnson | Houston, TX United States | 01/11/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Whether you agree with Billy's politics or not, you can't help but be impressed with the emotion of "My Youngest Some Came Home Today" or the sharp lyrics of "Marching Song of the Covert Battalions." It seems that musicians just don't record this sort of gutsy material anymore. Nowadays, "taking a chance" means offending as many people as possible with obscenities or lewd behavior, but there was a time when musicians believed that taking a chance had to do with performing intellectually bold content that had real social value. Billy Bragg is one of those people. Steve Earle is another. It's a shame there aren't more like them anymore. If you want a stellar example of a talented musician performing gutsy, meaty songs, then listen to this cd."
Rally beneath this CD :)
Jerry K | San Francisco, CA USA | 05/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hey, I'm a socialist, do you really expect me to give this CD a bad review? *chuckle* Great stuff. Bragg's "The Red Flag" is fun to dance to, I might add. And just did. Heh!Was this review helpful to you? Probably not. Sorry."
Five Red Stars!
Chip | Tewksbury, MA United States | 03/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Billy Bragg has always managed to mix "pop and politics" in his words, but on this EP, he focuses on the latter. Sure the album may be short, but he put's his heart into each and every word. Sure he takes some liberties, but that's what makes this album interesting. I know of several versions of "Joe Hill" (Paddy Reilly, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, etc.) and while a contribution by Bragg would have been welcome, it was more exciting for me to hear it sung about the late, great Phil Ochs. His version of The Internationale might not be the same as the original, but times have changed, and for the worker's to be able to have a song that represents them, it would be foolish to sing about things that aren't relevant anymore.So if you want traditional communist/socialist/anarcho songs, there's many places you can find them. If you want a contemporary album with a bit of humor, and a lot of topics (that you can still feel passionate about), get this EP."