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Editors’ Notes

It took a gradual assimilation, but Billy Bragg slowly embraced the conventions of modern music-making. After debuting in the early '80s as a “one-man Clash”—strapped with an electric guitar and a grating, confrontational voice—Bragg eventually became an unlikely pop star. His leftist political convictions have either been greatly pronounced in protest material or subtly shading his romantic ideals on his sweeter-than-expected love songs. 1988’s Worker’s Playtime—with the help of legendary folk-rock producer Joe Boyd—had been his most mature work to date, but 1991’s Don’t Try This at Home went a step further. Members of R.E.M., Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, and Kirsty MacColl add their touches (including drums) for the most musically varied album of Bragg’s career. “Accident Waiting to Happen” is a convincing rocker, but it’s the softer touches of “Moving the Goalposts,” “Everywhere," and the heart-stopping “Wish You Were Her” that present Bragg as a singer/songwriter you’d more likely hear in a nightclub than out on the streets.


Born: December 20, 1957 in Barking Town Hall, London, Englan

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Finding inspiration in the righteous anger of punk rock and the socially conscious folk tradition of Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan, Billy Bragg was the leading figure of the anti-folk movement of the '80s. For most of the decade, Bragg bashed out songs alone on his electric guitar, singing about politics and love. While his lyrics were bitingly intelligent and clever, they were also warm and humane, filled with detail and wit. Even though his lyrics were carefully considered, Bragg never neglected...
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