Reaching to the Converted

Reaching to the Converted

by Billy Bragg
     
 

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On the 1998 Woody Guthrie tribute MERMAID AVENUE, Billy Bragg and Wilco showed that the legendary folk-singer's songs could be reinterpreted in a number of different, often unexpected, fashions. Now Bragg is giving his own career a similar reconsideration. REACHING TO THE CONVERTED compiles U.K singles, covers,

Overview

On the 1998 Woody Guthrie tribute MERMAID AVENUE, Billy Bragg and Wilco showed that the legendary folk-singer's songs could be reinterpreted in a number of different, often unexpected, fashions. Now Bragg is giving his own career a similar reconsideration. REACHING TO THE CONVERTED compiles U.K singles, covers, and various other tracks into a collection that sheds new light on one of alterna-folk's most distinctive voices. The 17-track set follows Bragg from his beginnings as a pissed-off, post-Clash folkie with a barbed electric guitar to his emergence as the talented pop-crafter of albums like 1991's DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME. From the essay on sexual politics and pregnancy "Shirley" (known to most as "Greetings to the New Brunette," from 1987's TALKING WITH THE TAXMAN ABOUT POETRY) to a gentle, spare cover of Kate and Anna McGarrigle's "Heart Like a Wheel," this set fares much better than your average rarities roundup. Sure, Bragg's cockney croon has seen better moments than on his plod through the Beatles' "She's Leaving Home," and his restrained take on the Smiths' "Jeane" doesn't compare to his scathing version on 1991's THE PEEL SESSIONS, but an endearing run through his soulful live standard "Sulk" and the intimate 1985 B-side "Scholarship Is the Enemy of Romance" are touching and elevating snapshots of Bragg's continuing artistic development.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Jack Rabid
This is no ragtag rummage sale of leftovers, castoffs, and third-rate rejects. Having previously purchased the ten singles Reaching is culled from, spanning 1985-1997, one nevertheless revels in the poignant, luxurious breadth of Bragg's heart and brain. Like Bragg's real LPs, this is a roadmap to the spectrum of feeling, from bliss to misery and every destination in between. One experiences the heart-busting sweetness of "Ontario, Quebec and Me," the contented, bubbling joy of "The Boy Done Good," the knowing shrug of "Bad Penny," the regretful resignation of a revamped (by an inspired Johnny Marr) "Greetings to the New Brunette" called "Shirley," the distasteful, frank frustration of "Sulk," the gentle sadness in a rendition of the Smiths' B-side "Jeane," the wrenching melancholy of a ballad-rethink of "Wishing the Days Away," and the dour despair of his piano cover of Brit-folk standard "Heart Like a Wheel." (Or, for those who favor sociopolitics, there is "Days Like These" and a less frenzied re-recording of "Accident Waiting to Happen.") Unfortunately, some of Bragg's best B-sides are oddly A.W.O.L. The scathing "Thatcherites" and the Natalie Merchant-sung collaboration "Bread and Circuses" should have replaced the too-sketchy "I Don't Need This Pressure Ron" and "Scholarship Is the Enemy of Romance" -- or simply been added, along with his torch job on Love's "Seven and Seven Is." Likewise, a so-so cover of the Beatles' "She's Leaving Home" probably should have been left on the forgettable charity Sgt. Pepper tribute LP it came from. But, otherwise, this album might be better than William Bloke. If Bragg-faves the Temptations once sang "I Wish it Would Rain," then Reaching is like that song's memorable coda: "Let it rain...."

Product Details

Release Date:
03/24/2009
Label:
Imports
UPC:
0711297158625
catalogNumber:
849246
Rank:
269015

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Billy Bragg   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Vocals
Kirsty MacColl   Background Vocals
Lorraine Bowen   Background Vocals
Andy Hobson   Bass
J.F.T. Hood   Drums
Ken Jones   Guitar
Jody Linscott   Percussion
Johnny Marr   Acoustic Guitar,Multi Instruments
John Porter   Mandolin
Cara Tivey   Piano,Keyboards,Recorder,Vocals
Amanda Vincent   Piano
Wiggy   Guitar
Rob Allum   Drums
Nigel Frydman   Bass,Bass Guitar
Robert Handley   Vocals

Technical Credits

Billy Bragg   Liner Notes
Gary Smith   Producer
Michael Brown   Composer
Greg Allen   Art Direction
Edward DeBono   Producer
Ken Jones   Producer
Johnny Marr   Producer
John Porter   Producer
Grant Showbiz   Producer
Rachel Gutek   Art Direction
Doug Erb   Illustrations
Tony Sansone   Composer
Bob Calilli   Composer

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