Anniversary Albums: Edition Six – Billy Bragg "Talking with the Taxman About Poetry"


This week’s Anniversary Album is Billy Bragg’s “Talking with the Taxman About Poetry” which is celebrating 30 years this year.
This was the British singer-songwriters third studio album, and marked the moment where Bragg, the master of the protest anthem began to get wider exposure.
Despite singing politically charged folk-influenced anthems, Bragg’s music is not straight out acoustic folk, but is in fact a mixture of styles that blended aggressive punk guitar with melodic pop song-writing at times.


This album also marked a bit of a turn musically for Bragg. On previous albums it was mainly just Bragg by himself on guitar. However, on here he brings in other musicians to play, including The Smiths Johnny Marr who plays guitar on the album opener, the jangle pop-influenced “Greetings To The New Brunette”.


By the time of this record, Bragg had developed a strong reputation in the UK as a protest singer, with his songs tearing into Thatcher’s England and the sociopolitical climate of the time.
He was involved with the political activist group Red Wedge, while his music was tailored towards left-wing causes and encouraging the youth to get involved in activism and political causes.
The track that probably captures this the most on this record is his cover of a traditional protest song “There Is Power in a Union.”
“Talking with the Taxman About Poetry” has proven a popular record in Bragg’s cannon over the years.
It is his second highest rated album on Rate Your Music, while it also cracked the top 10 of the UK album charts, something Bragg has only achieved twice in his career.
This record is undoubtedly one of the most important singer-songwriter albums of the 1980’s and was an important collection of songs that explored the political and social climate of the UK at the back end of the decade.
– Sam 
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