Billy Bragg

Live Solo Bootleg in Australia October 2001

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Billy Bragg is one of those rare artists who sounds brilliant as a solo artist or as part of a band. And solo means just him and his trusty electric guitar. After disbanding Riff Raff, he developed into a strong solo performer both on disc and in concert. This CD harkens back to his early days. Although he recorded the 2002 CD England, Half English with his band the Blokes, Bragg went out on his own for one tour to promote that CD. The result is found on this CD, which Bragg himself made available through his website and at his shows. In fact, this is CD number three in his "official bootleg" series and, like the other two, this is simply indispensable. He manages to squeeze in songs from most of his career, with the exception of the Mermaid Avenue CDs. Those songs are not missed here. He opens with "St. Monday" from his then-current release, England, Half English, then skips back to his brilliant Worker's Playtime for the brilliant and very stripped-down "The Price I Pay." The pain and angst are in full form here and the song seems to take on a much darker tone. Bragg's guitar work provides the perfect soundtrack to the ballad. This is felt throughout. He travels as far back as his debut EP, Life's a Riot with Spy Vs. Spy, with his trademark song, "A New England," except here he adds the verse he wrote for Kirsty MacColl, perhaps as a tribute to her. The rest of the CD is equally brilliant, and the Australian fans who were able to attend the show were treated to a wonderful performance. This CD is well worth searching out.

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