Billy Bragg will release Best Of Billy Bragg At The BBC 1983 - 2019, a compilation of classic performances at the BBC from the early 80s through to the present, on digital, CD (20 Sept) and vinyl (15th Nov) on the Cooking Vinyl label.
The album, fully remastered and featuring many previously unreleased tracks, includes selected highlights from sessions for John Peel, David Jensen, Janice Long, Phill Jupitus, Bob Harris, Tom Robinson & more, and offers a fascinating chronological perspective on the development of one of the UK’s most beloved entertainers.
The collection draws from all corners of Billy’s catalogue and features, among many gems, his signature song ‘A New England’ (later covered to huge acclaim by Kirsty MacColl), ‘Levi Stubbs’ Tears’, and his workers’ anthem ‘There Is Power In A Union’, with a couple of atypical covers thrown in, namely John Cale’s ‘Fear Is A Man’s Best Friend’ and ‘A13’, his personal psycho-geography take on ‘Route 66’.
All of these and more paint a picture of a British national treasure plying his trade at a British institution and making the world a better place in the process.
The full tracklisting of ‘Best Of Billy Bragg At The BBC 1983 - 2019’ will be:
1 A New England (John Peel session, 27th July 1983)
2 Fear Is A Man's Best Friend [Cale] (John Peel session, 27th July 1983)
3 Love Gets Dangerous (John Peel session, 27thJuly 1983)
4 Like Soldiers Do (David Jensen session, 22ndDecember 1983)
5 The Man In The Iron Mask (w/ Dave Woodhead) (David Jensen session, 22ndDecember 1983)
6 The Saturday Boy (David Jensen session, 22ndDecember 1983)
7 A Lover Sings (John Peel session, 18thSeptember 1984)
8 Between The Wars (John Peel session, 18thSeptember 1984)
9 A13, Trunk Road To The Sea [Troup/Bragg] (w/ Wiggy) (Saturday live, 13th October 1984)
10 There Is Power In A Union (John Peel session, 20th August 1985)
11 Days Like These (John Peel session, 20thAugust 1985)
12 Scholarship Is The Enemy Of Romance (Janice Long session, 18th December 1985)
13 Greetings To The New Brunette (John Peel session, 2nd September 1986)
14 Ideology (John Peel session, 2nd September 1986)
15 The Warmest Room (John Peel session, 2ndSeptember 1986)
16 She’s Got a New Spell (John Peel session, 30thAugust 1988)
17 Valentine's Day Is Over (John Peel session, 30th August 1988)
18 The Short Answer (John Peel session, 30thAugust 1988)
19 Rotting On Remand (John Peel session, 30thAugust 1988)
20 The Few (John Peel session, 12th May 1991)
21 Accident Waiting To Happen (w/ Wiggy) (John Peel session, 12th May 1991)
22 Tank Park Salute (w/ Cara Tivey) (John Peel session, 12th May 1991)
23 Brickbat (John Peel session, 13th October 1995)
24 This Gulf Between Us (John Peel session, 13thOctober 1995)
25 Goal Hanger (London Music Week live, 1st May 1997)
26 The Boy Done Good [Bragg/Marr] (London Music Week live, 1st May 1997)
27 From Red To Blue (London Music Week live, 1st May 1997)
28 The Busy Girl Buys Beauty (Janice Long Paris Theatre London Live, October 1999)
29 It Says Here (Janice Long Paris Theatre London Live, October 1999)
30 Lonesome Traveller [Hays] (John Peel session, 8thDecember 2004)
31 Goodbye, Goodbye (Phill Jupitus live, 30thMarch 2007)
32 Way Over Yonder In The Minor Key [Guthrie/Bragg] (Bob Harris live, 6th May 2012)
33 No-One Knows Nothing Anymore (Latitude Festival live, 18th July 2014)
34 Levi Stubbs’ Tears (Glastonbury live, 26th June 2015)
35 Why We Build The Wall [Anais Mitchell] (Tom Robinson live Buxton Opera House, 21st January 2017)
36 I Ain’t Got No Home [Guthrie] (w/ CJ Hillman) (Radio 2 Folk Awards live, 5th April 2017)
37 The Space Race Is Over (Tom Robinson Now Playing 6Music ‘Billy Bragg Takeover’, 14th July 2019)
38 St. Swithin's Day (Tom Robinson Now Playing 6Music ‘Billy Bragg Takeover’, 14th July 2019)
All songs by Billy Bragg except where stated.
Says Billy: "Work in progress. That’s how John Peel thought of his evening sessions, offering artists the opportunity to try out new songs in a studio environment. That’s how I looked at them too. The confirmation of a Peel session date was a signal to get my ideas together, to define material that had hitherto been little more than words scribbled on a page or a tune thrashed out during a sound check. That’s why some of the tracks here have a different phrasing and arrangement to that which appeared on record. The songs were so new, you can hear I’m still feeling my way into them. Several were conceived and written the night before the session. In one case, I actually composed a song from scratch while the show was on air.
That rawness was always a key component of my BBC sessions, the thrill of putting something out there for the very first time. And here I've collected all the best moments across 36 years of my ongoing work in progress."
Billy Bragg is in the middle of his previously announced "One Step Forward, Two Steps Back" tour.
Forthcoming UK shows are as follows:
6 GLASGOW St Luke’s
7 GLASGOW St Luke’s
8 GLASGOW St Luke’s
11 MANCHESTER Academy 2
12 MANCHESTER Academy 2
13 MANCHESTER Academy 2
16 SHEFFIELD The Leadmill
17 SHEFFIELD The Leadmill
18 SHEFFIELD The Leadmill
21 LONDON Islington Assembly Hall
22 LONDON Islington Assembly Hall
23 LONDON Islington Assembly Hall
26 CAMBRIDGE Junction
27 CAMBRIDGE Junction
28 CAMBRIDGE Junction
1 BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute 2
2 BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute 2
3 BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute 2
Billy Bragg has been making waves for over 35 years. Among the former Saturday boy’s albums are his punk-charged debut Life’s a Riot With Spy Vs Spy, the more love-infused Workers Playtime, pop classic Don’t Try This At Home, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee-timed treatise on national identity England, Half-English, and his stripped-down tenth, Tooth & Nail, his most successful since the early 90s. The intervening three decades have been marked by a number one hit single, having a street named after him, being the subject of a South Bank Show, appearing onstage at Wembley Stadium, curating Left Field at Glastonbury, sharing spotted dick with a Cabinet minister in the House of Commons cafeteria, being mentioned in Bob Dylan’s memoir and meeting the Queen. At their best, Billy’s songs present ‘the perfect Venn diagram between the political and the personal’ (the Guardian). Bragg has recently added best-selling author/musicologist to his CV with the success of his acclaimed 2017 book Roots, Radicals & Rockers – How Skiffle Changed The World.
Billy Bragg last toured the UK on his acclaimed ‘Bridges Not Walls’ tour in 2017.