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Talking With the Taxman About Poetry

Billy BraggAudio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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MP3 Music, 22 Songs, 2006 $11.49  
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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: #155,407 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
See all 12 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2

Editorial Reviews

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

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."

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars YepRoc reissue 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!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars must I also share my life 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
5.0 out of 5 stars Bragg In Top Form 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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Billy Bragg's Crowning Acheivement January 27, 2007
Format:Audio CD
He was edgier when he first got started, more produced later on, but this would be the moment when Billy Bragg arrived and America finally started to pay attention. Levi Stubbs' Tears is, without a doubt, one of the finest love songs in the English language.

A one man Clash, indeed.

I was lucky enough to see him at UCLA in 1987. He is even better live.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The angry young folkie May 17, 2000
Format:Audio CD
Billy Bragg is a hard one to pin down. A punk-rock Phil Ochs? Maybe. Bob Dylan filtered through The Clash? Perhaps. BB came onto the scene in the early eighties with an electric guitar and many axes to grind. His songs are usually overtly left-wing, but later in his career he began incorporating more and more romatic themes (in addition to more instrumentation). TWTTAP is the perfect transition album. The usual political rants are present and accounted for ("Ideology," "There is Powere in a Union"), in addition to tender valentines ("Greetings to the New Brunette," "The Warmest Room"). Billy almost never resorts to cliches. His songs make you think and make you feel. If you like this, check out "Don't Try This at Home."
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Legendary Album from a Legend
Billy Bragg is truly a legend and this album is a classic. Love pretty much every song on it --classic!
Published 10 months ago by Meredith M. Goldberg
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless, I hope
It all depends on the listener, so we hope. I make that statement just listening to Bragg on Melbourne ABC. In Thailand. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Sureeporn Rush
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, this album is dangerous
This is his second best album, but only slightly. If you do not like unions, equality and taking care of your fellow man, he is not for you! Read more
Published on December 15, 2004 by Mike R
1.0 out of 5 stars In one word: AWFUL.
I'm serious, no joke. I must say, I have acquired all the other Bragg albums, but this really is the worst of the bunch, and that really disappoints me. Read more
Published on March 22, 2002 by T-Bone
5.0 out of 5 stars The Difficult Third Album?
i bought this cd for Greetings To The New Brunnette and i must say that is one of the greatest love songs ever should buy this... Read more
Published on March 8, 2002 by Greg
4.0 out of 5 stars so nice, so familiar
This CD grew on me really quickly, and it feels somehow very comforting and familiar to listen to. The combination of stickin'-it-to-the-man songs and love songs makes for an... Read more
Published on November 20, 2000 by Tracy Kaufman
3.0 out of 5 stars Not exactly dulcet tones, but interesting lyrics...
I'm not sure why the reviewer below was "worried that Billy Bragg might be a socialist." A song listed on the sleeve as "there is Power in a Union" should have... Read more
Published on February 7, 2000 by Rob Hosking
5.0 out of 5 stars Love is dangerous
This album is brilliant, as each song explodes out of the speakers with a passion that was and still is Mr. Bragg's trademark. Read more
Published on January 19, 2000 by Eric
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