This collection of Billy Bragg favourites collects his tracks recorded from 1983 onwards. For many Bragg fans the big attraction will be the first official CD airing of "A13 Trunk road to the sea" though other highlights would surely have to be the solo versions of "Greetings to the new brunettte" , "Valentines Day is over" and the previously unavalible "Lovers Town". Unlike other artists who would just use the Peel Sessions to promote current material Billy Bragg used them to demo new songs before they appeared in a more polished form on the album. This CD therefore gives a good insight into the songs development and Braggs songwriting. as well as his influences (Versions of the Smiths "Jeanne" and John Cales "Fear is a mans best friend" also appear) Recommended whatever your political leanings.
Billy Bragg's solo debut `Life's a Riot with Spy vs. Spy' was initially played on the late John Peel's seminal radio show after John claimed on air he could murder a curry. Billy turned up with a curry and a reminder that he'd sent his mini-album to John earlier. `Richard' was played at, somewhat unfortunately, 33 1/3 rather than 45 rpm. This confusion was eventually sorted and the songs soon became part of the shows rotation and Billy was duly invited to record a session at Maiden Vale for the show.
Billy's first session is included here as bonus tracks due to it initially being available on a vinyl 45 and due to the nature of the recordings is on the main faithful to the versions of the tracks on `Spy vs. Spy' and `Brewing up'. The highlight of the set is the cover of John Cale's `Fear is a Man's Best Friend' and Riff Raff's (Bragg's original punk bank) `A13'.
The third session was recorded to promote the `Between the Wars EP' and includes the rarely heard `Lovers Town' not to be confused with `Lovers Town Revisited' from `Spy vs. Spy'.
The fourth and final session were recorded on the release of `Talking with the Taxman about Poetry' and `Workers Playtime' respectively and justify the purchase of the album by making available solo versions of songs that were recorded with session musicians on the album sessions.
A must have purchase for Bragg completists due to `Lovers Town' alone.