Back in 1985 Billy Bragg shook off his monotonic, acoustic routine and jazzed himself up a bit. The result is this enjoyable and powerful album that fuses both melody and fine lyrics. The fiery passion of Socialism soars from this landmark record in an explosion of musical merriment.
'Talking to the Taxman' begins with 'Greetings to the New Brunette', a song imbued with guitar and feeling. Not sure what's it's all about, but you can't argue with lines such as 'I'm celebrating my love for you / With a pint of beer and a new tattoo' and 'how can you lie there and think of England / when you don't even know who'se in the team?' Track three - "Marriage" - was my favourite song for many years: 'Marriage is when we admit our parents were right'.
Track four, the brilliantly and simply entitled 'Ideology', is also fantastic. It gets you all worked up. After twenty years we're still asking the same question - "Is there more to a seat in Parliament / than sitting, on your arse?". The song / battle cry 'Power in a Union' needs no explanation.
The album, however, is not all hammers and sickles. Billy isn't just an angry leftie. 'Levi Stubbs Tears' is a melancholic exploration of a caged woman - an Eleanor Rigby for the 1980's. Anger also turns to thoughtfulness in such songs as 'The Warmest Room' and 'The Home Front'.
My advice is this: buy the album, re-live those halcyon days and sing along to the sound of good old-fashioned Socialism.