Must I Paint You a Picture?: The Essential Billy Bragg

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
Befitting his populist nature, singer-songwriter Billy Bragg employed an exercise in pure democracy in compiling this career retrospective -- polling fans on his web site to choose the tracks on the two-disc collection. As might be expected, the material is roughly divided between political screeds and heart-tugging ballads. While Bragg is better known as a sloganeer, he's quite effective in the latter mode, as evidenced by the still-touching-after-all-these-years "Levi Stubbs's Tears" and the homespun "A New England," which elevates love above all things political. On the topical tunes, Bragg proves his mettle equally when making his points with relative subtlety ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
Befitting his populist nature, singer-songwriter Billy Bragg employed an exercise in pure democracy in compiling this career retrospective -- polling fans on his web site to choose the tracks on the two-disc collection. As might be expected, the material is roughly divided between political screeds and heart-tugging ballads. While Bragg is better known as a sloganeer, he's quite effective in the latter mode, as evidenced by the still-touching-after-all-these-years "Levi Stubbs's Tears" and the homespun "A New England," which elevates love above all things political. On the topical tunes, Bragg proves his mettle equally when making his points with relative subtlety ("Help Save the Youth of America") or taking off the gloves entirely, as he does on "There Is Power in a Union" and "All You Fascists Are Bound to Lose." While a good bit of Must I Paint You a Picture? captures Bragg in stark acoustic relief, there's also ample evidence of his ability to groove when the mood strikes -- as on the sinuous "Sexuality." Alternately crafty and guileless, wry and utterly up-front, the set is a perfect distillation of Bragg's ever-changing moods.
All Music Guide - Mark Deming
In 1983, Billy Bragg was a guy with a cheap electric guitar, a rough but passionate voice, and a knack for writing and singing straight from the heart whether he was discussing leftist political concerns or the mysterious interactions between men and women. The guy has a band and the political issues that have caught his attention are trickier 20 years later, but he's still enchanted and puzzled by love, and hasn't stopped writing worthwhile songs about it. Must I Paint You a Picture? The Essential Billy Bragg is a two-disc, 40-song compilation that does an admirable job of capturing the hills and valleys of Bragg's recording career, opening up with "A New England" from his debut EP, Life's a Riot With Spy vs. Spy, and closing with a cut from 2002's England, Half English. A spin through this set suggests that Bragg's best or at least most affecting work arrived in the early stages of his career, as disc one which follows Bragg through Worker's Playtime is a decidedly more solid and absorbing listen than disc two the material from the disappointing William Bloke in particular weighs down the collection's second act, and his love songs have stood the test of time a shade better than his political material the miners' strike may be over, but broken hearts are timeless. But there are plenty of gems to be found throughout this collection, and Must I Paint You a Picture? serves as a potent reminder that in the grand tradition of Bob Dylan, even Bragg's lesser albums contain a handful of truly memorable songs worth hearing; if this isn't the ideal Billy Bragg collection, it's an excellent introduction, a solid career overview, and a lovely reminder of how much he has to say about the heart and the mind. Initial pressings come with a ten-song bonus disc that adds several hard to find selections, including Bragg's Anglophile rewrite of "Route 66," a telling duet with the late Ted Hawkins, and a bootleg remix that merges Bragg with the Hives.
New York Times - Neil Strauss
[A] strong collection of his raw, thickly accented folk and rock.
Tracks - Laura Sinagra
Revisiting [his songs] is a reminder that, for all his union-stumping sympathies... Bragg's always had a special genius for parsing the politics of love.

[A] strong collection of his raw, thickly accented folk and rock.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/28/2003
  • Label: Elektra / Wea
  • UPC: 081227399320
  • Catalog Number: 73993

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 A New England (2:15)
  2. 2 The Man in the Iron Mask (2:06)
  3. 3 The Milkman of Human Kindness (2:55)
  4. 4 To Have and to Have Not (2:33)
  5. 5 A Lover Sings (3:53)
  6. 6 St. Swithin's Day (3:55)
  7. 7 The Saturday Boy (3:31)
  8. 8 Between the Wars (2:29)
  9. 9 The World Turned Upside Down (2:35)
  10. 10 Levi Stubbs' Tears (3:32)
  11. 11 Walk Away Renee (2:24)
  12. 12 Greetings to the New Brunette (3:32)
  13. 13 There Is Power in a Union (2:50)
  14. 14 Help Save the Youth of America (2:48)
  15. 15 The Warmest Room (3:58)
  16. 16 Must I Paint You a Picture? (5:31)
  17. 17 She's Got a New Spell (3:24)
  18. 18 The Price I Pay (3:34)
  19. 19 Valentine's Day Is Over (4:54)
  20. 20 Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards (4:36)
Disc 2
  1. 1 Sexuality (3:48)
  2. 2 Cindy of a Thousand Lives (4:14)
  3. 3 Moving the Goalposts (2:34)
  4. 4 Tank Park Salute (3:29)
  5. 5 You Woke Up My Neighbourhood (3:10)
  6. 6 Accident Waiting to Happen (Red Stars Version) (3:48)
  7. 7 Sulk (3:47)
  8. 8 Upfield (4:05)
  9. 9 The Fourteenth of February (3:25)
  10. 10 Brickbat (3:13)
  11. 11 The Space Race Is Over (4:25)
  12. 12 The Boy Done Good (3:22)
  13. 13 Ingrid Bergman - Wilco (1:50)
  14. 14 Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key - Wilco (4:07)
  15. 15 My Flying Saucer - Wilco (1:46)
  16. 16 All You Fascists Bound to Lose (Blokes Version) - Billy Bragg & the Blokes (4:11)
  17. 17 Npwa - Billy Bragg & the Blokes (5:29)
  18. 18 St. Monday - Billy Bragg & the Blokes (3:01)
  19. 19 Some Days I See the Point - Billy Bragg & the Blokes (4:57)
  20. 20 Take Down the Union Jack (Band Version) - Billy Bragg & the Blokes (3:22)
Disc 3
  1. 1 A13, Trunk Road to the Sea (2:28)
  2. 2 Fear Is a Man's Best Friend (2:33)
  3. 3 Cold and Bitter Tears (2:35)
  4. 4 Seven and Seven Is (2:12)
  5. 5 When Will I See You Again? (3:02)
  6. 6 Rule nor Reason (3:33)
  7. 7 Debris (4:10)
  8. 8 Dry Bed (1:48)
  9. 9 She Smiled Sweetly (2:52)
  10. 10 Take Down the Union Jack (2:47)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Billy Bragg Primary Artist
Kirsty MacColl Musician, Guest Appearance
Michelle Shocked Musician, Guest Appearance
Ian McLagan Guest Appearance, Group Member
Martyn Barker Guest Appearance, Group Member
Martin Belmont Musician, Guest Appearance
Jay Bennett Guest Appearance, Group Member
Lorraine Bowen Musician, Guest Appearance
Peter Buck Musician, Guest Appearance
Andy Carlson Musician, Guest Appearance
Ken Coomer Guest Appearance, Group Member
Ken Craddock Musician, Guest Appearance
Terry Disley Musician, Guest Appearance
Terry Edwards Musician
Mike Henry Musician, Guest Appearance
Andy Hobson Musician, Guest Appearance
J.F.T. Hood Musician, Guest Appearance
John Keane Musician, Guest Appearance
Jody Linscott Musician, Guest Appearance
Lu Edmonds Guest Appearance, Group Member
Ben Mandelson Guest Appearance, Group Member
Tony Maronie Musician, Guest Appearance
Johnny Marr Musician, Guest Appearance
Chucho Merchán Musician, Guest Appearance
Natalie Merchant Musician, Guest Appearance
Simon Moreton Musician, Guest Appearance
Julia Palmer Musician, Guest Appearance
John Porter Musician, Guest Appearance
Michael Stipe Musician, Guest Appearance
John Stirratt Guest Appearance, Group Member
Bruce Thomas Musician
Cara Tivey Musician, Guest Appearance
Jeff Tweedy Guest Appearance, Group Member
Amanda Vincent Musician, Guest Appearance
Mickey Waller Musician
Wiggy Musician, Guest Appearance
Dave Woodhead Musician, Guest Appearance
Peter Yanowitz Musician, Guest Appearance
Wilco Group, Guest Appearance
Danny Thompson Musician
Eliza Carthy Musician, Guest Appearance
Rob Allum Musician, Guest Appearance
Jayne Creamer Musician, Guest Appearance
Nigel Frydman Musician, Guest Appearance
Kaya Jenner Musician, Guest Appearance
Porky Musician, Guest Appearance
Chris Morgan Musician, Guest Appearance
Caroline Hall Musician, Guest Appearance
Fionn Ó Lochlainn Musician, Guest Appearance
Anthea Clarke Musician, Guest Appearance
The Hives Group, Musician, Guest Appearance
Elizabeth Steen Musician, Guest Appearance
Diedre Cooper Musician, Guest Appearance
Simon Edwards Guest Appearance, Group Member
Technical Credits
Ted Hawkins Composer
Woody Guthrie Composer
Billy Bragg Composer, Producer
John Cale Composer
Mick Jagger Composer
Bobby Troup Composer
Gary Smith Producer
Leon Rosselson Composer
Michael Brown Composer
Joe Boyd Producer
Jerry Boys Engineer
Peter Buck Composer
Edward DeBono Producer
Kenny Gamble Composer
Martin Hayles Engineer
Leon Huff Composer
John Keane Engineer
Ronnie Lane Composer
Arthur Lee Composer
Johnny Marr Composer, Producer
Owen Morris Engineer
Andy Peake Engineer
John Porter Producer
Keith Richards Composer
Grant Showbiz Producer, Engineer
Cara Tivey Composer
Victor Van Vugt Engineer
Wiggy Producer
Wilco Producer
Tony Sansone Composer
Andrew Collins Foreword
Traditional Composer
Kenny Jones Producer, Engineer
Billy Bragg & the Blokes Composer
Michael Boddy Engineer
Oliver Hitch Producer, Engineer
Bob Calilli Composer
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