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Reaching To The Converted (Minding The Gaps) Original recording remastered

4.4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Reaching To The Converted (Minding The Gaps) by Billy Bragg

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Consider this something of a garage sale for Billy Bragg. On the heels of one of his career highs, Mermaid Avenue, the plugged-in folkie has dived into the hodgepodge he hoarded between 1985 and 1997 and compiled a surprisingly beguiling and cohesive collection of B-sides and bonus tracks. With nine selections from the '80s and eight from the '90s, Reaching offers considerable expanse while making a strong case for Bragg as one of the most productive and consistent post-punk performers to come out of Britain. Highlights here include a previously unreleased version of "Shirley," with the Smiths' Johnny Marr providing the instrumental backing, and a slew of savvy covers that includes the McGarrigles' "Heart Like a Wheel," the Left Banke's "Walk Away Renee," the Beatles' "She's Leaving Home," and Ry Cooder's "Tattler." Reaching to the Converted holds considerable appeal for Bragg partisans, but it's appealing enough to win over nonconverts, too. --Steven Stolder

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Shirley
  2. Sulk
  3. Accident Waiting To Happen (Red Star Version)
  4. The Boy Done Good
  5. Heart like A Wheel
  6. Bad Penny
  7. Ontario, Quebec And Me
  8. Walk Away Renee (Version)
  9. Rule Nor Reason
  10. Days Like These (U.K. Version)
  11. Think Again
  12. Scholarship Is The Enemy Of Romance
  13. Wishing The Days Away (Ballad Version)
  14. The Tatler
  15. Jeane
  16. She's Leaving Home
  17. I Don't Need This Pressure Ron


Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 31, 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Rhino
  • ASIN: B00000JZAK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #170,790 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Billy's version of Walk Away Renee (accompanied by Johnny Marr) alone makes this CD worth the cost. After seeing this song performed live in 1988 I've been searching through second hand record stores for years trying to find this track. I love the line "I told her I'm the most illegible bachelor in town, and she said yeah that's why I never understood any of those silly letters you keep sending". Cracks me up every time! Another highlight is a very beautiful rendition of She's Leaving Home with backup vocals from Cara Tivy. Very memorable. There are many other gems amongst this collection of B-sides. Essential CD for all Bragg fans.
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Format: Audio CD
Good to hear the new version of 'Greetings to the New Brunette' - retitled 'Shirley' here, it's got a heavier sound than the original, and both are, in their different ways, excellent. Even better to get a lyric sheet for the song, where Bragg sings "I'm more impressionable when my _cement_ is wet". I always thought that instead of 'cement' he sang about something more...uhh...biological...Well, it certainly makes a lot more sense than 'cement'.
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).
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Format: Audio CD
Billy Bragg is undoubtedly the exponent of modern British folk music. Spanning Billy's 17 year carreer, this collection of B-sides and rarities is an awesome addition to any Bragg fan's collection. The songs, coming from different stages in Bragg's carrer, are pretty diverse musically, ranging from just guitar and vocals to the more produced, full-band sound of his recent work.
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.
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Format: Audio CD
Billy Bragg has never been as one-dimensional as some of his detractors might have you believe. His political aspect has always had it's counterpoint in his understanding of humanity. And that's exactly what comes across on this collection of B-sides and rarities.
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?
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Format: Audio CD
... as a fan of Billy's since the release of 'Talking with the Taxman...', I bought this thinking it was exactly as titled, something for us 'Billy' fans, and it did NOT dissapoint... those of us in the 'States' had missed out on alot of what was released in England... that being said... the original of 'Accident Waiting to Happen' has much more power as a song, and 'Greetings...', in it's original version is also much better... the rest of this LP is fantastic throughout (including those re-made songs)... I've put songs from this LP on mix-tapes for friends, and they're never disappointed... it's wonderful how you can tell in each stage of Billy's career that 'this song' was an outtake from this album, and 'that song', was an outtake from this... and then there are his hits from England that we never got to hear until now.... amazing that one of my favorite artists ever could come out with the most 'essential' B-Sides LP ever... why couldn't XTC have done this?
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