Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Billy Bragg - Workers Playtime

Billy Bragg – Workers Playtime
Elektra, 1988
Acquired: Half Price Books, Used, 2013
Price: $5

Billy Bragg’s songs usually fall into three categories: Love songs, protest songs, and love songs that double as protest songs. Despite its title and propaganda-poster cover of Chinese workers unwinding after a long day of labor, Workers Playtime is almost entirely comprised of straight up love songs. 8 love songs, 2 protest songs, and 1 love song that is also a protest song (or protest song that is also a love song). Workers Playtime also sports Bragg’s best lyrics sheet and fully realizes that full-band sound Bragg played around with on Talking to the Taxman About Poetry after years of his solo dude-with-an-electric-guitar records. Though the numbers make Workers Playtime look top heavy with love songs, closing track “Waiting For the Great Leap Forwards” is probably the best, most effective political song Billy Bragg ever wrote. It’s incisive and clever and funny and sad and inspiring. It’s the love songs that kill me though. They’re probably the sappiest love songs Bragg has ever written and yet they still hit me right in the gut. They show that you don’t have to choose whether you are a lover or a fighter, you can be both. Honestly, I’m probably too close to the subject matter to write about it objectively. I’ll go through spells where I’ll listen to nothing but Billy Bragg in the car. I’ll literally delete everything else off my iPod and put it on Billy Bragg shuffle for weeks, which makes me think my Billy Bragg phase isn’t quite over.  

(I know Mr. Love and Justice himself isn't posting these videos, but it is rather funny that so many of his songs on Youtube contain preroll adverts when the cover clearly reads "Capitalism is Killing Music")

When I was at SXSW in 2008 I was walking down Red River and heard this song coming from a parking lot. "That sounds kind of familiar?" I said to myself. "Is that Billy Bragg?" And sure enough, there was Billy Bragg playing in a parking lot and I went in and watched him play an updated version of "Waiting for the Great Leap Forward" and became a Fan. And thanks to the internet, which has everything, I can see that exact performance. 

"She's Got a New Spell"

"Little Time Bomb"

No comments:

Post a Comment