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Must I Paint You a Picture - The Essential Billy Bragg Box set, Limited Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (6 Oct. 2003)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set, Limited Edition
  • Label: Cooking Vinyl
  • ASIN: B0000BVM02
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 59,319 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. New England
  2. The Man In The Iron Mask
  3. Milkman Of Human Kindness
  4. To Have And Have Not
  5. A Lover Sings
  6. St. Swithins Day
  7. The Saturday Boy
  8. Between The Wars
  9. The World Turned Upside Down
  10. Levi Stubbs Tears
  11. Walk Away Renee
  12. Greetings To The New Brunette
  13. There Is Power In A Union
  14. Help Save The Youth Of America
  15. The Warmest Room
  16. Must I Paint You A Picture
  17. She's Got A New Spell
  18. The Price I Pay
  19. Valentines Day Is Over
  20. Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards

Disc: 2

  1. Sexuality
  2. Cindy Of 1000 Lives
  3. Moving The Goalposts
  4. Tank Park Salute
  5. You Woke Up My Neighbourhood
  6. Accident Waiting To Happen
  7. Sulk
  8. Upfield
  9. The Fourteenth Of February
  10. Brickbat
  11. The Space Race Is Over
  12. The Boy Done Good
  13. Ingrid Bergman
  14. Way Over Yonder In The Minor Key
  15. My Flying Saucer
  16. All You Fascists Bound To Lose
  17. NPWA
  18. St. Monday
  19. Somedays I See The Point
  20. Take Down The Union Jack

Disc: 3

  1. A13, Trunk Road To The Sea
  2. Fear Is A Man's Best Friend
  3. Cold And Bitter Tears
  4. Seven And Seven Is
  5. When Will I See You Again?
  6. Rule Nor Reason
  7. Debris
  8. Dry Bed
  9. She Smiled Sweetly
  10. Take Down The Union Jack

Product Description

Product Description

BILLY BRAGG Must I Paint You A Picture? The Essential (2003 UK limited edition 52-track digitally remastered 3-CD album set compiling the best material from The Bard Of Barking starting with 1983s A New England and continuing through the80s 90s and Noughties to 2002s Take Down The Union Jack includes 10-track bonus CD of rarities. Issued in a slim double jewel case and card picture sleeve - housed in an outer stickered card picture slipcase)

Must I Paint You a Picture is a generous, two-disc, 40-track survey of Bragg's career to date (this limited edition has a third disc of 10 rarities). The tracklisting was apparently assembled with the help of Bragg's fans, who were asked to vote for their favourites on Bragg's website, but this democratic initiative has only been taken so far: while "Little Time Bomb", for example, was a more popular choice than, say, "The Boy Done Good", the latter is included and the former isn't. It would, of course, be uncharitable to suggest that this is reflective of the authoritarian instincts that lurk inside most socialists.

At any rate, though Bragg has always been chiefly characterised as a political songwriter, his best work has always been that which deals with the politics of the personal: there are few more acute summations of the eternal failure of the male and female to make sense to each other than his "How can you lie there and think of England when you don't even know who's in the team?" Bragg's superb love songs and love-gone-wrong songs are well represented here, from the angry, naive scratchings of "The Milkman of Human Kindness" to such older, if no wiser, musings as "Moving the Goalposts" and "Sulk". Curiously, his older, politically motivated songs now feel like they've reacquired an urgency they lacked during a 1990s largely devoid of stark ideological boundaries, when they sounded rather like quaint period pieces. The so-called war on terror and the increasing discomfort about global trade both have ready made soundtracks in "Between the Wars" and "There is Power in a Union". --Andrew Mueller

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
When I saw Billy Bragg on tour recently he described himself as a 'Marmite artist', ie, you either love him or hate him. I don't know that is necessarily true. My husband somewhat reluctantly bought this for me for Christmas a few years ago after I'd requested it on the strength of the handful of Bragg songs that I knew from my teens (Sexuality, New England, Waiting for the Great Leap Forward).
Neither myself or my hubby really knew enough about BB from those few songs to understand what an amazing artist he really is. I reckon that there are a few people out there who are in that same position and this review, like the album, is for you. This is a great place to start on your Bragg conversion because it will give you a taste of the diversity of Billy's career. There can't be many artists who could compile an album containing elements of folk, pop, country, punk and even disco (When Will I See You Again!) OK, if you're not particularly political or left-leaning (like my hubby) then there might be some songs here that won't float your boat, but seriously, don't let that put you off. Some of these songs will break your heart (Tank Park Salute, Brickbat). Some will make you laugh (The Saturday Boy, A Lover Sings). Some will rouse you(The World Turned Upside Down, Between The Wars). Most will make you think and remember.
By his own admission, he ain't the greatest singer in the world, nor the greatest guitarist (although I think he's seriously underrated in that department.) Nevertheless, there is something about Billy and his songs which just makes you like and believe him. He's passionate, clever, honest, really funny and utterly without pretension.
Since buying this album we've both gone on to be massive BB converts.
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Format: Audio CD
It must be hard work compiling a compilation album - finding that balance between the "hits" and the "best of" tracks that were never released as singles. By calling this set "The Essential Billy Bragg", we really do get the best of both worlds - the well known tracks: "A New England", "Between the Wars", "Sexuality", "Take Down the Union Jack", together with an inspired choice of fan favourites from the albums. Being a fan of Billy since the early days, I could list lots of songs I'd have liked to see included, but accept that the selection is must be limited. There are two strange ommissions though: nothing from the "Internationale" mini album (the title track or "The Marching Song of the Covert Battalions" would have sat there quite nicely), and we're missing Billy's No. 1 single (the double A-side of Wet Wet Wet's version of "A Little Help from my Friends" was Billy's version of "She's Leaving Home"). Still, great collection, nice new remastered sound, and an interesting collection of rare tracks on the bonus CD (shame we didn't get the extended version of "Must I Paint you a Picture" though). Recommended for the beginners - and then get the albums I recommend ALL of the them!!
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Format: Audio CD
50 tracks for nine quid - hard to argue with the sheer value of this set, and when the quality and scope are taken into account it's pretty much unmissable. Really does cover Bragg's ascent from wailing solo artist to accompolished, quirky popster - and shows that he never sold out his political principles on the way.
Each disc has its own atmosphere though, and it's best to consider them individually.
For me, Disc 1 is the star. It's the Billy Bragg I spent my late teens listening to - angry, ironic, lyrics, stripped-down music and an almost visceral reaction to the debris of the Thatcher years. This disc draws heavily on the first three albums and the 'Between The Wars' EP, adding a few welcome extras.
Disc 2 is the poppier, perhaps less confrontational Bragg of the nineties and beyond. Certainly a more accomplished artist, with a finer grasp of pop sensibilities and a wider appeal, but to me something of the raw edge was lost. This disc shows Bragg's mainstream acceptance as something of a pop oddity, and has some astonishingly good songs that the old-style Bragg fans who tuned out after "Talking With The Taxman About Poetry" may have missed first time round.
Disc 3 is really a typical bonus/rarities extra - a completist might buy the set for this, the rest of us will probably find it moderately interesting but the stunning "When will I See You Again" apart it isn't exactly essential.
Can't really give it five stars, because MY definitive Bragg set would essentially be the first three albums and the Between The Wars EP, but it's a very high four.
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Format: Audio CD
Although having enjoyed Billy's work over the years and admired his commitment to social justice I never really considered myself a "fan". This retrospective was bought as I thought it was time to have some of his work in my cd collection - and frankly it was a bargain. Why did I not buy his albums earlier! It was suprising how much I remembered. It's great to get a cd thinking your a beginner and finding out you're actually a fan. Even if you're only remotely interested buy it now.
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Format: Audio CD
I will endeavour to be brief. When I slapped this on the CD player last night I was transported immediately back to the bedroom of my teenage years. Billy will not be pleased to learn that I wallowed in nostalgia. Now, I own all these songs already, but I confess I had not listened to some of the earliest albums - LIFES A RIOT... for instance - for some time. Hearing again the bittersweet beauty, the tangled tenderness, the raw romance...ah...I don't mind telling you it brought me to my knees with all the power of the day I first listened.
There is something very, very wonderful and very, very important about Billy Bragg. It is not his political commitment, although that is undeniable. It is something rather more recondite, something that you may wish to call humanity. Whatever it is it vibrates through every track on this wonderful retrospective. From the spine-tingling early love songs, through the Great Leap Forward, through Woody Guthrie, this is the record of one of the great singer-songwriters. Listen to the words and you'll wonder how you ever lived without a bit of Billy. And, while I may disagree with some of the things he says, I am mighty glad that he is there saying them anyway. So should you be. Very few people have the courage.
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