Billy Bragg - Mr Love and Justice Album Review


Review of Mr Love and Justice Album by Billy Bragg

Billy Bragg

Billy Bragg Mr Love and Justice Album

Mr Love and Justice

Album Review

Something of a dual celebration is marked by this release, coinciding as it does with Bragg's fiftieth birthday and him reaching the milestone of twenty-five years as a performer. That's some feat in today's currency - for many different reasons, I can't imagine many of today's pop heroes achieving that kind of longevity. Once again Billy Bragg is joined by his band The Blokes, and perhaps that's where this album falls short. Bragg's always been a decent songwriter, but I've always had the nagging doubt that sometimes he doesn't do his own songs justice - look at Kirsty MacColl's treatment of ‘A New England’ or Dubstar's reworking of ‘St Swithin's Day’, for example. Both versions (in my mind at least) take the starkness of the originals and build and develop them into something quite beautiful.

With The Blokes in tow, however, it's a bit of a different story. There's something essentially coffee-table about the music on this record. It's very unchallenging. I don't know whether it quite descends into the realms of the cheesy, but it is very formulaic, country-esque soul that feels a bit lazy. There are lyrical highlights, of course - we'd expect that, wouldn't we? He takes on tobacco companies on ‘The Johnny Carcinogenic Show’ and New Labour's frightening attacks on civil liberties on ‘O Freedom’, and ‘M For Me’ is certainly clever lyrically (even if it has an unforgiveable trombone solo).

Sadly, not even a guest appearance from Robert Wyatt (a kindred spirit in many ways, but a significantly more inventive one) or producing duties from frequent Fall knob-twiddler Grant Showbiz can rescue this record, I'm afraid. Now more than ever - since young people have entirely lost interest in politics and the very idea of political music seems risible to them - we need people like Billy Bragg to be making better records than this. He's still got a lot to say and a great deal contribute, but this album will convert no-one and excite no-one. There is, apparently, a bonus second disc (which wasn't included in the promo copy I was sent), on which Bragg performs the same set of songs acoustically. To contradict entirely what I wrote in the first paragraph, that might in some ways be a better listen: certainly the songs on display here might benefit from a more stripped-down treatment.

Jon Watson




Official Site - http://www.billybragg.co.uk

Advertisement

More Billy Bragg

Musicians Succeed in Reversing Prison Guitar String Ban

Musical campaigners have successfully reversed a ban that had prevented inmates of British prisons from being able to use steel strings on guitars.Billy Bragg had...

Billy Bragg Likens Kasabian's Swagger to Spinal Tap's Satire

Kasabian were the subject of derision when they chose to divulge the lyrics, "Horsemeat in the burgers, people commit murders, everyone’s on bugle, we’re being...

Richard Hawley And Grandmaster Flash Among Camp Bestival 2013 Highlights [Photos]

Richard Hawley plays one of his many splendid guitars.Camp Bestival 2013 took over the weekend (August 2nd - 4th) at Lulworth Castle in Dorset last...

Advertisement

A New England Means A New Personal Direction For Billy Bragg On New Album

One of the biggest politically-minded voices left in music has announced a move away from his previous statement-laden songs to focus more on personal relationships....

Billy Bragg - Mr Love and Justice

Billy BraggMr Love and JusticeAlbum ReviewSomething of a dual celebration is marked by this release, coinciding as it does with Bragg's fiftieth birthday and him...

Billy Bragg - Volume 2

Billy Bragg Volume 2 Album ReviewAfter the release of Volume 1 of the Billy Bragg re-releases, comes the natural progression that is Volume 2. Consisting...

Billy Bragg - Volume 1

Billy BraggVolume 1Album ReviewAs a contemporary British social icon, Billy Bragg is up there with strong tea, miserable weather and queues in post offices. This...

Advertisement

Comments

Billy Bragg Newsletter

Subscribe to this news alert service to receive news and reviews on Billy Bragg

Unsubscribe | Unsubscribe All