Talking with the Taxman About Poetry

Talking with the Taxman About Poetry is the third album by Billy Bragg, released in 1986. With production by John Porter and Kenny Jones, Talking with the Taxman About Poetry featured more musicians than Bragg's previous works, which were generally little more than Bragg himself and a guitar.

Talking with the Taxman About Poetry
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 1986
RecordedMarch–July 1986
StudioLivingston Studios, London
GenreFolk punk
LabelGo! Discs (UK)
Elektra (US)
ProducerKenny Jones, John Porter
Billy Bragg chronology
Brewing Up with Billy Bragg
Talking with the Taxman About Poetry
Workers Playtime
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[1]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[2]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[3]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[4]
Spin Alternative Record Guide8/10[5]
The Village VoiceB+[6]

There were two singles released from the album. While "Levi Stubbs' Tears" peaked at No. 29 in the UK, the follow-up "Greetings to the New Brunette" fell short, only managing No. 58 a few months later.


The album's title is also the title of a Vladimir Mayakovsky poem, which appears as part of the liner notes.[7]

The song "There Is Power in a Union" is based on the song "Battle Cry of Freedom".

"Levi Stubbs' Tears" refers to songwriter Barrett Strong, producer Norman Whitfield, the members of the Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting and production team as well as Levi Stubbs and the Four Tops.

The original album cover has the subtitle "The Difficult Third Album".[8]


The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[9]

Track listingEdit

All tracks written by Billy Bragg, except where noted.

Disc oneEdit

  1. "Greetings to the New Brunette" – 3:29
  2. "Train Train" (Zenon De Fleur) – 2:11
  3. "The Marriage" – 2:30
  4. "Ideology" (Bragg, Bob Dylan) – 3:27
  5. "Levi Stubbs' Tears" – 3:28
  6. "Honey, I'm a Big Boy Now" – 4:05
  7. "There Is Power in a Union" (Bragg, George Frederick Root) – 2:47
  8. "Help Save the Youth of America" – 2:45
  9. "Wishing the Days Away" – 2:28
  10. "The Passion" – 2:52
  11. "The Warmest Room" – 3:55
  12. "The Home Front" – 4:09

Disc two (2006 reissue)Edit

  1. "Sin City" (Gram Parsons, Chris Hillman) – 3:34
  2. "Deportees" (Woody Guthrie, Martin Hoffman) – 4:03
  3. "There is Power in a Union" (instrumental) (George Root) – 3:16
  4. "The Tracks of My Tears" (Smokey Robinson, Warren Moore, Marvin Tarplin) – 2:56
  5. "Wishing the Days Away" (alternate version) – 2:32
  6. "The Clashing of Ideologies" (alternate version) – 2:52
  7. "Greetings to the New Brunette" (demo version) – 3:57
  8. "A Nurse's Life is Full of Woe" – 2:48
  9. "Only Bad Signs" – 3:10
  10. "Hold the Fort" (traditional) – 1:47





  1. ^ Deming, Mark. "Talking with the Taxman About Poetry – Billy Bragg". AllMusic. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  2. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.
  3. ^ "Billy Bragg: Talking with the Taxman About Poetry". Rolling Stone: 95. Bragg's most likable record: The arrangements sand off his splintery edges ...
  4. ^ Considine, J. D. (2004). "Billy Bragg". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 101. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  5. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  6. ^ Christgau, Robert (24 February 1987). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  7. ^ "Talking With Taxman About Poetry: Billy Bragg: Music". Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  8. ^ "Talking with the Taxman About Poetry", Billy Bragg, Elektra 9 60502-1 (1986) LP
  9. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (7 February 2006). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 0-7893-1371-5.

External linksEdit