- 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)
Must I Paint You a Picture - The Essential Billy Bragg Box set, Limited Edition
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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
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Billy Bragg is a genius : a fantastic lyricist. I first discovered him in an open air concerts his home town of Barking earlier this year (July 2015). Read morePublished 1 month ago by JL