In 1985, a friend lent me a 4-song, 7-inch EP song by Billy Bragg. The name didn't ring a bell. But a couple of years earlier I'd read Christopher Hill's book about the underground groups that had emerged during the English Civil War (the Diggers, the Ranters, the Fifth Monarchy Men) some of which were putting forward a revolutionary socialist vision in religious language -- and here was Bragg bringing that tradition into the present day....
A year or so later came the first album (in the States anyway), proving that agitprop was just one aspect of what he could do.
I got to see Bragg perform in Austin in 1988, just before the election. After the show, he hung around with the audience to talk about politics -- not an ounce of pretense or "star" bullshit, and far less dogmatic than (ahem) some of us, at the time.
Somehow I lost track of Bragg around the time he released the song "Sexuality." Very catchy....
More recently, this....I love the mock indignation of "You Carpenters fans are just being ironic!"
Finally -- for anyone who's gotten this far -- here is Billy Bragg performing Bill Bailey's parody of a Billy Bragg song, "Unisex Chip Shop":
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