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Talking With the Taxman About Poetry


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Biography

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 (March 6, 2006)
  • Original Release Date: March 6, 2006
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Yep Roc Records
  • ASIN: B000B5KRRK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #327,571 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. GREETINGS TO THE NEW BRUNETTE
2. TRAIN TRAIN
3. THE MARRIAGE
4. IDEOLOGY
5. LEVI STUBBS' TEARS
6. HONEY I'M A BIG BOY NOW
7. THERE IS POWER IN A UNION
8. HELP SAVE THE YOUTH OF AMERICA
9. WISHING THE DAYS AWAY
10. THE PASSION
See all 12 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. SIN CITY
2. DEPORTEES
3. THERE IS POWER IN A UNION (inst.)
4. TRACKS OF MY TEARS
5. WISHING THE DAYS AWAY (alt.)
6. THE CLASHING OF IDEOLOGIES
7. GREETINGS TO THE NEW BRUNETTE (demo)
8. A NURSE'S LIFE IS FULL OF WOE
9. ONLY BAD SIGNS
10. HOLD THE FORT

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Billy Bragg, once-described as a "one-man Clash," has spent the last two decades writing and performing passionate, witty, socially conscious music. This is a reissue of Talking with the Taxman About Poetry, Billy's 1985 album, about which Rolling Stone glowed, "On this album, cheerfully subtitled 'The difficult Third Album,' Bragg expands his pared-down sound ever-so-slightly (violin here, piano and tambourine there). While purists might bitch, the result is a winning mesh, as clever as Elvis Costello, as melodic as Ray Davies and as rocking as Chuck Berry."

Amazon.com

Billy Bragg's third full-length album, 1986's Talking with the Taxman About Poetry, is an uncompromised refinement of his brash, anti-Thatcher, busking-bloke persona. Bragg's palette stretches beyond the jagged-rhythmic-guitar-plus-curious-voice approach of the first two albums: "Ideology" and "Marriage" see the addition of horns and piano, "Train Train" adds violin, and singer Kirsty MacColl and guitarist Johnny Marr make guest appearances. The slashing, lovely "Levi Stubbs' Tears," a sad slice-of-life number told from a woman's perspective, showcases the singer-songwriter's ability to write well beyond protest songs. And only Bragg could pen a love song such as "Greetings to the New Brunette" and pull it off. In an off-key yet warm warble, he almost croons, "Shirley, your sexual politics have left me all of a muddle / Shirley, we are joined in the ideological cuddle," one of pop's most delightfully awkward rhymes. And then of course there are the protest songs, such as bracing, simple, Woody Guthrie-ish "There Is Power in a Union." The record's title is taken from a 1926 poem by the poet of the Russian Revolution, Vladimir Mayakovsky. --Mike McGonigal

Customer Reviews

TWTTAP is the perfect transition album.
Christopher Ingalls
I realized I was listening to something great, and I became a fan of the album.
Ken Miller
Billy Bragg is truly a legend and this album is a classic.
Meredith M. Goldberg

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By K. Hernandez on February 27, 2006
Format: Audio CD
"The Difficult Third Album", Bragg tagged this album back in 1986. I always got a kick out of that honesty. Listening to the material inside I couldn't imagine what he was trying to warn his listeners about. Furthering his songs about the politics of love and living, Bragg once again penned some excellent songs on Talking With the Taxman about Poetry.

Joined by Johnny Marr on guitar and occasionally Kirsty MacColl he comes out swinging with "Greetings to the New Brunette", the reason I bought this album after seeing a grainy video on MTV. Billy shows his love of Motown in the sad tale of "Levi Stubbs' Tears" and also by referencing Motown in song and horn arrangements that one might not initially notice as being "Motown". The disc sees Bragg wrestling constantly with the idea of marriage vs. singledom and the myriad combinations in between.

Several excellent songs deal with politics in England and abroad: "Help Save the Youth of America", "Ideology" and the traditional "Power in a Union". Without the help of a pitch shifter Billy sings his heart out with passion and an electric guitar that is just as brash with reverb. Some may find this annoying, most find it honest. I found myself arguing the latter when trying to recruit my brother to his music, to no avail.

This review would be nothing without talking about the Bonus CD and packaging of the YepRoc Reissue. I'm not a singles-buyer so the extra tracks are new to me, and well worth it. "Sin City" by Gram Parsons, "Deportees" by Woody Guthrie, a traditional instrumental version of "There is Power in a Union", an endearing cover of "The Tracks of My Tears" (more Motown!
Read more ›
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ken Miller on October 23, 2003
Format: Audio CD
TALKING WITH THE TAXMAN ABOUT POETRY is my favorite of Billy Bragg's albums. All the songs are strong, especially "Greetings to the New Brunette," and Billy's passion for his subjects has never seemed so strong as it does on "Ideology" and "Help Save the Youth of America."
The lyrics are great too.
Here's a sample: "If I share my bed with you / Must I also share my life / Love is just a moment of giving / And marriage is when we admit our parents were right"
Bragg's political edge is only sharper on THE INTERNATIONALE. His personal songwriting excels on "The Marriage" and a few others, but it's no wonder why Billy lacks success on the USA pop charts. These intelligent, mature love songs and political anthems surely don't help to sell suntan lotion and diet colas, do they?
I first heard this in 1988 or 1989, most likely, and it just sounded true and authentic. It was sincere without being sappy. I realized I was listening to something great, and I became a fan of the album. Only later did I discover other albums by Billy Bragg.

If I could thank Billy Bragg for one thing, it would be TALKING WITH THE TAXMAN ABOUT POETRY. If you've enjoyed other albums by Bragg, I recommend this to you wholeheartedly.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ziggy, the Last of the Space Cowboys on December 7, 2000
Format: Audio CD
"Taxman About Poetry" is absolutely one of Bragg's finest albums. This album also features a wider range of instruments other than just an electric guitar, though not a full backing band. Like its predecessor, "Brewing Up With Billy Bragg" (which can be found on "Back to Basics") many of the songs on this album sparsely arranged, the most prominent extra instruments being horns and percussion. Some of Bragg's best material can be found on this disc, most notably "Greetings To The New Brunette" - a beautiful acoustic love song featuring some impeccable guitar work from The Smiths' Johnny Marr, and "Levi Stubbs' Tears" - a bitter, yet catchy song about a battered woman. Some other goodies that aren't as well known include "Wishing The Days Away" - a jaunty country song, "The Warmest Room" - a mouthwateringly mellow rocker with funny lyrics, "The Passion" - a real tear-jerker of a song about a dysfunctional relationship (again featuring Marr on guitar) and "The Home Front" - a profoundly moving piece of social commentary on working-class family life in Britain. However, although there are some standouts, there is really not one bad song on the entire album.
So all in all, "Talking To The Taxman About Poetry" is an excellent album and a worthy addition to any fan of folk music, or music in general.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Eric on January 19, 2000
Format: Audio CD
This album is brilliant, as each song explodes out of the speakers with a passion that was and still is Mr. Bragg's trademark. It represents a logical growth in his career from a troubador ala Dylan to a fully realized song writer and musical expressionist. As for the "danger" in exposing the youth of America to socialism alluded to by another reviewer, anyone who is afraid of the mere expression of ideas in this context should be disreguarded, particularly in this case where nothing Mr. Bragg sings is cloaked. His opinions, reject them or not, are out in the open (as anyone who has seen him live will surely attest), and for that, we can thank him for adding a voice to landscape that should be considered, not rejected out of hand. I suggest the reviewer should also spare himself of the "danger" of listening to Woody Guthie, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, John Lennon, Paul Robeson, the Clash, Robert Johnson, Miles Davis and other such subversives.
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