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Must I Paint You a Picture: Essential Billy Bragg

Billy BraggAudio CD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

Price: $17.59 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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MP3 Music, 36 Songs, 2003 $7.99  
Audio CD, Import, 2013 $14.55  
Audio CD, 2003 $17.59  

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Amazon Exclusive video of Billy introducing his new Album


He was born Steven William Bragg in Essex around the time Tommy Steele was climbing the singles charts with Happy Guitar and the Soviet Union was launching Sputnik 2 into space. Today, on the verge of the release of his eleventh and best album, Mr. Love & Justice, he is known as Billy Bragg by his loyalists worldwide yet he is still called Steven by his Mother and still referred to as the ... Read more in Amazon's Billy Bragg Store

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 28, 2003)
  • Original Release Date: 2003
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Elektra / Wea
  • ASIN: B0000DD53H
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,434 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. A New England
2. The Man In The Iron Mask
3. THe Milkman Of Human Kindness
4. To Have And To Have Not
5. A Lover Sings
6. St Swithin's Day
7. The Saturday Boy
8. Between The Wars
9. The World Turned Upside Down
10. Levi Stubbs' Tears
See all 20 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Sexuality
2. Cindy Of 1000 Lives
3. Moving The Goalposts
4. Tank Park Salute
5. You Woke Up My Neighbourhood
6. Accident Waiting To Happen (Red Stars Version)
7. Sulk
8. Upfield
9. The Fourteenth Of February
10. Brickbat
See all 20 tracks on this disc

Editorial Reviews

Must I Paint You a Picture is a generous, two-disc, 40-track survey of Bragg's career to date. The tracklisting was apparently assembled with the help of Bragg's fans, who were asked to vote for their favourites on Bragg's website, but this democratic initiative has only been taken so far: while "Little Time Bomb", for example, was a more popular choice than, say, "The Boy Done Good", the latter is included and the former isn't. It would, of course, be uncharitable to suggest that this is reflective of the authoritarian instincts that lurk inside most socialists.

At any rate, though Bragg has always been chiefly characterised as a political songwriter, his best work has always been that which deals with the politics of the personal: there are few more acute summations of the eternal failure of the male and female to make sense to each other than his "How can you lie there and think of England when you don't even know who's in the team?" Bragg's superb love songs and love-gone-wrong songs are well represented here, from the angry, naive scratchings of "The Milkman of Human Kindness" to such older, if no wiser, musings as "Moving the Goalposts" and "Sulk". Curiously, his older, politically motivated songs now feel like they've reacquired an urgency they lacked during a 1990s largely devoid of stark ideological boundaries, when they sounded rather like quaint period pieces. The so-called war on terror and the increasing discomfort about global trade both have ready made soundtracks in "Between the Wars" and "There is Power in a Union". --Andrew Mueller

Product Description

No Description Available
No Track Information Available
Media Type: CD
Street Release Date: 10/28/2003

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is what a Greatest Hits album should be! March 18, 2004
Format:Audio CD
I have every Billy Bragg album except this one, and the rare stuff on the third disc is tempting me to correct that oversight. Record companies take note - that's how a Greatest Hits album is supposed to work!
For those unfamiliar with Billy Bragg, his music may be best summarized as "acoustic punk", but he has experimented with numerous styles over the course of his twenty year career. This three CD set collects them all, in a rough chronological order. Disc one begins in Thatcherite Britain: you can picture Billy sitting in a smoke-filled pub belting out coarse folk tunes and love songs with tender quirky lyrics; we then follow him outside into the middle of the poll tax riots, with socialist anthems and rich ballads that tell stories of heartache and broken dreams. Disc two starts at a time in Bragg's career I'd rather forget, the Britpop period, but thankfully the salvation of the later 1990s soon follows. Here he returns to familiar themes - disillusionment with the state of the world, left wing Utopianism, and, of course, love - but the music is more sophisticated and polished. There's even a few Woody Guthrie covers thrown in for fun (and to remind us of his politics). Disc three is made up of remixes and rarities I've only ever heard live or bootleg, which is why I'm going to break down and buy the album!
Regardless of your politics, it's hard not to be moved by songs like "Levi Stubbs' Tears" or "The Space Race Is Over", or to reminisce about relationships gone sour over tracks like "The Price I Pay". Billy Bragg is truly a prolific artist, with a poet's soul and a bleeding heart, and this collection of his work is, as the title says, ESSENTIAL.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NPWA! November 3, 2003
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Bragg's tune, "No Power Without Accountability" sums up his political perspective absolutely accurately, and in this collection, his career is summed up just perfectly. This is a writer who puts his head and his heart on the line. Art as politics blazes through his skewering of the western world. While his neo-socialist underpinnings seem at times dated ("Great Leap Forward"), you need to keep in mind that it was no accident that he should turn to Woody Guthrie and in partnership with WILCO essay some of America's heartland-poet's unfinished songs in so compelling a manner. Like Ireland's Andy Irvine, Bragg has taken to the road for the common man. Fatcats of either white or blue collar are pilloried, their efforts at exploiting those who have entrusted them with power are stripped of the rhetoric designed to feed people what they want and laid open as lies meant to enrich the prevaricators. For all the vitriol, there is an incredibly human voice that touches the heart as well as fires the mind.
Besides all that, Bragg can write a damn fetching tune. For all the rhetoric, he can turn around and write something as emotionally honest as "Somedays I See The Point," one of the greatest songs ever written. His early resetting of "Just Walk Away Renee" is shear (you'll get it) genius. There is a lot to consider here and it is all worth the investment of your time. WILCO, The Blokes, his solo stuff: all are delivered with a sense of commitment. The third disc presents some rarities, including a cut from a radio show in Philadelphia that misrepresents its xenophilic title by content. Nonetheless, Bragg is just brilliant with his "Rhyme or Reason." It's irrelevant whether you embrace his politics.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It is, and he is July 24, 2005
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
All "best ofs" should be this good. Top-notch material in chronological order, with a better flow than any of his proper albums. There simply are no bad songs here. Some won't like his voice, some find him too sentimental - I give him points for sincerity and doing exactly what he wants for over 20 years. Intelligent pop music? Yes, it's possible. A great collection.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
Based upon the fact that I only knew two songs ("New England" and "To Have and Have Not"), buying these CD's was a huge gamble. Not only did I find out upon purchasing it that I like Billy Bragg, but I discovered I LOVE Billy Bragg. This collection is not only a comprehensive and fairly complete sampling of his work, it is also a set of three albums, astounding unto themselves.

The first disc is more bare-bones than the other two (and my favorite) featuring Bragg's characteristically clever songwriting and sparse musical accompaniment. This is of course, not without exception, most notable the fuller sounding "Great Leap Forwards", among several others.

The second disc is a slight departure from the aforementioned sound, without deviating completely from Bragg's traditional style. More instruments, more production. My personal favorite from this one is "Way Over Yonder In the Minor Key", which features backing vocals from a woman who sounds uncannily like Natalie Merchant to me...however, I could easily be mistaken.

The third disc is the shortest, however, nonetheless amazing as well.

I constantly find myself reaching for this cd, and the only disappointment I have is that Billy Bragg is such an underrated artist here in America.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential Billy Bragg
Had heard of Billy Bragg but thought he was only a political-social commentator. He is but he has a wider range. This was a good sample of his range.
Published 25 days ago by Thalia Johnson
1.0 out of 5 stars Average Billy Bragg
I like Billy Bragg, but too many average songs to even try to listen to the whole thing, even on a road trip
Published 5 months ago by Dave Gellerman
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing deal from an amazing guy!
Just saw Billy Bragg live recently. The last time I saw him was over 20 years ago, so we have both aged a bit. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Gabriel Grey
5.0 out of 5 stars The worthy Mr Bragg's record collection
I have friends who tell me politics and agit prop are so old fashioned. What have the billy Bragg's achieved? Read more
Published on August 29, 2012 by "Belgo Geordie"
4.0 out of 5 stars The best of Billy Bragg is pretty good!
I love Billy Bragg's lefty politics, his rough, un-taught voice and his tremendous guitar playing, but most I just love his courage. Read more
Published on August 22, 2006 by William H. Fisher
5.0 out of 5 stars A welcome mat for everyone
Now there's a way for people unfmailiar with Billy get an overview of his music from above. I've loved his lyrical abilities and evocative music that fuses both a folkie... Read more
Published on June 18, 2006 by Chai
1.0 out of 5 stars A POOR MAN's WOODY GUTHRIE.
Billy Bragg thinks he's a modern day Woody Guthrie, championing the poor working class. Unfortunately he is not. Read more
Published on April 17, 2006 by Mark53
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential in deed - a truly great English songwriter
Listening to Billy Bragg is a very English thing to do. Perhaps British, but definitely English. His Essex consonants, largely unreconstructed by the passing years, his wonderfully... Read more
Published on December 5, 2005 by Eric Ambleside
4.0 out of 5 stars Passion, brains, integrity, humor...
Billy Bragg has spent most of his career flying kind of low on the radar screen, but he rarely disappoints. Read more
Published on January 24, 2004 by David Sheridan
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly surprised...Now I am officially a NEW fan
I bought this CD on the fact that it was value for money. Depending on your retailer you can get a bonus third 10 track disc. Read more
Published on November 30, 2003 by Jose Bay
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