Reaching To The Converted (Minding The Gaps)
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Top Customer Reviews
Best of all though is his version of 'Walk Away Renee'. The tune itself is always a heartbreaker, and on this recording guitarist Johnny Marr picks it out while Bragg talks about a funny/pathetic failed love affair ("The first time she spoke to me, my nose started to bleed. She guessed the rest"). Used to have this on the B side of one of his singles, now sadly long lost. At the time it seemed painfully accurate, presumably because I was going through a funny/pathetic failed love affair...It's a classic. Worth the price of admission alone.
The rest - there's some new stuff (to me, anyway) like 'Sulk' which is excellent; and a ballad version of 'Wishing the Days Away' which isn't bad though not up to the original. I'm not all that keen on Bragg's political rants, and this is not just political bias speaking. Unfortunately, when he gets on his soapbox he loses his delicacy of touch, not to mention his humour (when he keeps both, as on the 'Workers Playtime' album, he is great).
Whereras most other artists record B-sides just for the sake of backing up a single, Billy seemed to put as much effort into a B-side as any of his singles or album tracks. There are so many excellent tracks here that I don't know where to begin. There are some biting political rants in the good-ole Bragg tradition - the superb "Think Again" and "Days Like These"; some beautifully sparse love songs - "Ontario, Quebec and Me" and my personal favourite "Scholarship Is The Enemy Of Romance"; some poppy full-band tunes - the sublime "Sulk" and "Bad Penny"; and some inspired covers - "Jeanne" [The Smiths], "She's Leaving Home" [The Beatles], "The Tatler" [Ry Cooder] and "Heart Like A Wheel [Kate and Anna McGarrigle]. A few other songs worth mentioning are "Shirly", a remake of "Greetings To The New Brunette" on which Johnny Marr plays all the instruments; "Walk Away Renee", a love poem read by Billy accompanied again by Johnny Marr; and a nice sleepy folk song, "Rule Nor Reason".
If you are a die-hard Bragg fan this is a must have, but if you are unfamiliar with Bragg or are just getting into him, don't start here - instead start with "Back To Basics" - it's a marvellous introduction to this much overlooked talent that is Billy Bragg.
If you want politics, you've got the excellent, tell-it-like-it-is "Think Again" and "Days Like These". But love songs also abound, both the bitter-sweet and the humorous. Some classics that need to be mentioned are "Walk Away Renee (version)","Bad Penny" and "Sulk". Other's worth special mention are "She's Leaving Home", "Rule nor Reason" and, of course, "Shirley (greetings to the new brunette)"
What has always stood out, for me, about all Billy's songs (and his covers of other artists songs) is his honesty. One gets the feeling that he's been there (whether it was good or bad), and that he couldn't be glib about it if he tried. So his voice convinces, and bites deep where others would merely leave scratches.
If you've never heard his songs before, give this a go - you'll enjoy it.
If you're already familiar with his work, why haven't you got it yet?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an album that's grown on me very much in the two years that I've owned it. The first Billy Bragg cd I owned and heard was "Back to Basics", and I loved it from the start. Read morePublished on April 30, 2008 by M. Bellefeuille
Irreverent, creative, and exploding with energy, Reaching to the Converted is one of my favorite Billy Bragg CDs. I still listen to it quite often even though I bought it in 1999. Read morePublished on March 25, 2007 by Bernard Chapin
Billy Bragg's socialist politics, expressed both in his image and some of his more laborious music, have done a lot to obscure just how sublime a pop singer he can be. Read morePublished on August 1, 2005 by Amazon Customer
Billy Bragg is not only a political activist, but the guy can sing a good ballad too.
There is a sampling of both here; from the beautiful heart-wrenching cover "A Heart... Read more
I must confess to not knowing Billy till Mermaid ave.(which i love along with mermaid 2)But after purchasing this cd i definately plan on buying more from him. Read morePublished on August 2, 2000 by Goodja
This is the third Billy Bragg album that I've listened to and it is by far the best. It doesn't have much politics in it and more songs about love and relationships. Read morePublished on March 8, 2000 by Dan Adler
As a young fella who's only been into Billy Bragg for a few of years and missed the chance to get his singles on vinyl, it's brilliant to finally be able to hear stuff like... Read morePublished on September 28, 1999
I just bought this album the other day and saw Billy in concert that night. He plays too many Woody Guthrie songs in my opinion, but the man has to play what makes him happy, and... Read morePublished on September 15, 1999
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