Don't Try This at Home
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Billy Bragg - Don't Try This At Home - Cd
One wouldn't imagine that a died-in-red-wool socialist agitator and spiritual offspring of Woody Guthrie would be able to make serious inroads in modern-rock radio, but Billy Bragg did indeed slip onto some playlists with 1991's Don't Try This at Home. Working with a full band (the Smiths' Johnny Marr and R.E.M.'s Peter Buck and Michael Stipe are among the guests) with bits of brass and strings shading the arrangements, Bragg came up with a surplus of hooky songs highlighted by the minor hit "Sexuality." Conflict both personal ("You Woke Up My Neighborhood," "Accident Waiting to Happen") and political ("Everywhere," "God's Footballer") intertwine among these 16 songs in customary Bragg fashion. Ultimately, Home stands as one of the Brit firebrand's most accessible efforts. --Steven Stolder
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Top Customer Reviews
It goes without saying that much Billy Bragg is left-wing political and/or social commentary. If you're conservative, Thatcherite or Reaganite (or for that matter, Howardite or Shipleyite), you will probably find him objectionable. But that's okay, the feeling is probably mutual. Billy Bragg is (IMHO) the greatest protest singer/songwriter working today.
It's a pity that the previous reviewer didn't like this album as much as Worker's Playtime. The criticisms in that review were a bit unfair. "God's Footballer" is a beautiful lilting waltz--if anyone considered him to be no more talented than a well crafted political slogan, this is disproof. Incidentally, Billy is much shyer than you might expect, & prefers not to be called "Mr Sexuality".....(if he's reading this, we're still embarrassed about that and hope he forgives us, he should know what I'm referring to.....)
Perhaps one way to evaluate a song (and album) is to break it up into music and lyrics. Often you get a great tune but with words that do not leave any kind of impact on the audience. Likewise, the best words won't sink in without clever or emotionally meaningful sounds behind them. "Don't Try This At Home" covers all the bases. It hits all the emotions while remaining true to liberal thought.
Bragg's last album (William Bloke) drew a lot of attention because some claimed that he had "sold out", that the once highly political folk/funk musician grew old and began playing pop. To counter, it was argued that of course people and their art mature; that "William Bloke" was actually very political and even more intelligent than past efforts--that it reflected the maturity its creator had undergone over the past few years.
I'd further that argument by pointing out that "Home" actually reflects a lot of maturity and wisdom, especially when compared with "Back to Basics". Tracks like "North Sea Bubble" advise that not every political situation calls for the same solution (Socialism). "Sexuality" is all about practicing safe sex, no matter what your orientation is. Even the more romantic songs such as "Moving the Goalposts" are subtle yet highly effective. "Mother of the Bride" is just funny and great after suffering a break-up.
In sum, each track is packed with color and depth plus wonderful sound. Furthermore, there is incredible variety in the tracks, again both in lyrics and music.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Track by Track:
1) Accident Waiting to Happen 5/5, this pumped-up start to the CD...Read more
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