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9 Reviews
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mixing pop and politics? This is what the use is!, 2 Feb 2007
By 
Kevin Clarke "kevin17566" (Birmingham UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Workers Playtime (Audio CD)
11 songs, only 3 about politics and a whopping great 8 about love. It isn't hard to guess what was going on in Billy's life around the time of this album. He even names the culprit in 'The Short Answer' - "Between Marx and marzipan in the dictionary, there was Mary."

Billy articulates the whole range of feelings we experience when involved in a passionate love affair, from initial infatuation ('She's Got A New Spell') to ardent declarations ('Must I Paint You A Picture?') and on through wounded defiance ('The Price I Pay') and sad resignation ('Valentine's Day Is Over'). After all the anguish, though, he still can't help but state that you're 'The Only One.'

The political songs seem almost incidental by comparison but very fine they are too. 'Tender Comrade', a moving song about 2 male soldiers falling in love, is sung a capella by Bragg. 'Rotting On Remand' is a plea for more humane treatment of prisoners. And 'The Great Leap Forwards', an unusually structured song that gathers in pace and volume, is acutely aware of the dilemmas of the singer-songwriter with its self-deprecating line, "Mixing pop and politics, he asks me what the use is/ I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses."

Another 'leap forwards' for the bard of Barking.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love, politics and brilliant songs, 17 Jan 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Workers Playtime (Audio CD)
This is the album that really got me into Billy. Strong songs, excellent lyrics. He got a really good band around him and produced a more melodic and sophisticated sound than before while still retaining the passion and commitment.
Must I Paint You a Picture, and Great Leap Forward are stand out tracks - but (with the possible exception of Tender Comrade) there isn't a duff song on here.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bill in reflective mood, 8 July 2004
By 
Kevin R Brewer (Sutton-in-Ashfield, Notts United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Workers Playtime (Audio CD)
'Workers Playtime' is regarded by some as an 'in-between' album, fitting between the ground breaking 'Talking With the Taxman..' and the near pop-perfect 'Don't Try This At Home'. Bill (in my opinion) was always a better writer of bitter-sweet love ditties than political comment and this album concentrates mainly on the former, providing a more downbeat and subtle work compared to '..Taxman..'. Songs such as 'Must I Paint You a Picture', 'Valentine's Day is Over' are prime examples. Musically the accompanyment is more of a disappointment: although it shows signs of Bill's future experiments with country styles, it seems at times directionless, as if he wasn't sure whether to go the whole hog with a backing band and drummer and as such is not as polished as 'Don't Try This...'. Subsequently, the best numbers are the ones with the most sparse backing. This minor quibble though should be looked at in the context of what went before and what was to come. As such, it remains an unsung gem in the Billy Bragg collection which you should definitely get hold of, but if you're new to the Bard of Barking, not before 'Taxman..' and 'Don't Try This..'. And while we're at it, 'Back to Basics'. Failing this, buy the box set if you must, but you'll miss out on the brilliant 'The Short Answer' ("While you and I sat down to tea/I remember you said to me/that no amount of poetry could mend this broken heart/but you can put the Hoover round if you want to make a start")
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5.0 out of 5 stars it's billy bragg..., 20 Feb 2014
By 
Mr. A. Coates "cobweb" (Suffolk, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Workers Playtime (Audio CD)
buy it, listen to it, love it. This is the third time I've bought this album...tape, CD (wore it out!), and now again. Couldn't imagine my collection without it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bragging rights, 8 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Workers Playtime (Audio CD)
Worth the admission price for 'Waiting for the great leap forwards' alone. But there are a number of other great tracks on here too which previous reviewers have covered in detail, far more eloquently than I can. Both my wife and I love this album, we'd recommend it to anyone interested in Billy Bragg.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction, 11 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Workers Playtime (Audio CD)
This is an excellent introduction to Billy Bragg if you haven't listened to him before. He is an acquired taste but one worth cultivating. His songs are sharp and tuneful, they will stay in your head, and he sings better than most would ever dream of giving him credit for. Most of his songs are about love and loss but a few are political and they make their points with pith and humour. Waiting for the Great Leap Forward is a fine example of his politically conscious songs.

If you haven't heard him before, give him a go. If you have but tuned out, try and tune him back in. A singer songwriter with something interesting to say and who challenges your world or relationship views is worth a listen I'd say.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Billy's Great Leap Forwards., 22 Mar 2008
This review is from: Workers Playtime (Audio CD)
On Billy Bragg's previous album `Talking to the Taxman about Poetry' he had moved away from the sparse percussive guitar of his early `Urban' folk music using the occasional acoustic and also guest musicians playing piano, bass and even percussion, here things move on again with majority of the songs now being garnished with accompaniment up to and including drums. It was a staggering move towards `Pop' music and with the subject matter made for an absolute classic LP.

Although never one to enjoy other people's misfortunes it has to be said that Bragg's then relationship coming to an end was one of the best things to ever happen to my record collection. The majority of the songs here are amongst the better songs to cover the ending of the affair like a less pretentious `Blood on the Tracks'. All the songs of this cycle are as perfect as their titles would suggest: `She's got a New Spell', `Must I Paint You a Picture', `The Price I Pay', `Little Time Bomb', `Life with the Lions' ant `The Only One' all give us part of the story and the magnificent `The Short Answer' tells us the whole story in glorious monochrome.

`Valentine's Day is Over' works as a wonderful part of the song cycle with its emotive tale of Domestic violence. `Tender Comrade' is a vocal only refrain which is probably the only song collected here I don't like. `Rotting on Remand' is a rousing dirge which I think suffers from being the one time Bragg's politics are confused, an innocent man requiring rehabilitating.

The greatest song is the closing piece `Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards' which is an accurate self parody proving that although it is easy to take the mick out of a `Pop and Politics' merchant no-body sends up Billy Bragg like Billy Bragg. The arrangement is also priceless building from a single guitar to full combo sound, drums, backing singers et al.

The Demo's collected on the Bonus disk add very little to the original album and although I was bursting with excitement to hear Billy Bragg performing The Jam's `That's Entertainment' it did end up being a bit of a disappointment.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The classic commie folk-punk album, 18 Nov 2000
This review is from: Workers Playtime (Audio CD)
This album is classic Billy, while not as stark as his earlier work the more elaborate arrangements work. This album goes from beautiful love songs to attacks on society and capitalism and back again seamlessly. besides the classic Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards there is the fun of She's Got a New Spell and the emotion of Valentine's Day and the stark Tender Comrade. All in all, probably Billy's best album, despite the passage of time the subjects remain valid. Buy this album if you have'nt got it already.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Billy and probably his best Album, 14 Jan 2001
This review is from: Workers Playtime (Audio CD)
I bought this album on cassette when it came out over ten years ago. Not as raw as the sort of tracks off Back To Basics, but as a previous reviewer mentions, the increased complexity of the arrangements put a softer edge on the recordings which only add to the depth of Billy Braggs lyrics
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