ARTIST: Billy Bragg
TITLE: Life’s a Riot with Spy vs. Spy
YEAR RELEASED: 1983
CHART ACTION: #30 UK
SINGLES: It’s kind of an EP in length, though it made the LP charts in the UK.
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: The Milkman of Human Kindness, A New England
LINEUP: Billy Bragg
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First seven song collection from Billy Bragg, alone with his guitar and voice.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Billy Bragg had a failed career as a punk rocker in Riff Raff, and dropped out of the British Army, before busking around London and playing small concerts with just him and his electric guitar. He alternated love songs and political rants and grew a fan base. After some intrigue behind the scenes, this became a hit in the UK.
These seven songs don’t lack for a lack of instrumentation. Bragg’s guitar and voice make up for that in passion and heart. The songs are fully formed – at times sentimental – at times angry. He’s a pure heart in the music business and it shows here, and his lyrical game was on point from the beginning.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: This was mastered at 45 RPM, and John Peel first played a track at the wrong speed. Oops.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, outtakes and demos that double the length.
GRADE A-: Two of the tracks are all timers, and the rest aren’t that bad, once you get used to the solo guitar and voice.