Talking with the Taxman About Poetry

Talking with the Taxman About Poetry is the third album by Billy Bragg, released in September 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
BillyBraggTalkingwiththeTaxmanAboutPoetry.jpg
Studio album by
Released22 September 1986[1]
RecordedMarch–July 1986
StudioLivingston Studios, Wood Green, London
GenreFolk punk
Length38:06
LabelGo! Discs (UK)
Elektra (US)
ProducerKenny Jones, John Porter
Billy Bragg chronology
Brewing Up with Billy Bragg
(1984)
Talking with the Taxman About Poetry
(1986)
Workers Playtime
(1988)

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.

BackgroundEdit

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

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".[2]

Critical receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic     [3]
Entertainment WeeklyA[4]
Q     [5]
Record Collector     [6]
Record Mirror5/5[7]
Rolling Stone     [8]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [9]
Smash Hits7+12/10[10]
Spin Alternative Record Guide8/10[11]
The Village VoiceB+[12]

Reviewing Talking with the Taxman About Poetry for Rolling Stone, David Handelman called the album "a winning mesh, by turns as political as the Clash, as clever as Elvis Costello, as melodic as Ray Davies and as rocking as Chuck Berry."[13] Ira Robbins of Trouser Press praised it as "a great leap forward, the deft application of understated instrumental accompaniment on some of Bragg's best-ever songs."[14]

Talking with the Taxman About Poetry was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[15]

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

PersonnelEdit

MusiciansEdit

  • Billy Bragg – acoustic and electric guitar, vocals
  • Kirsty MacColl – vocals on "Greetings to the New Brunette" and "The Passion"
  • Ken Craddock – piano on "Honey, I'm a Big Boy Now", organ on "The Warmest Room"
  • Kenny Jones – assorted percussion
  • Johnny Marr – electric guitar on "Greetings to the New Brunette" and "The Passion"
  • Simon Moreton – percussion on "Greetings to the New Brunette" and "Levi Stubbs' Tears"
  • John Porter – bass guitar and slide guitar on "Greetings to the New Brunette", bass guitar on "The Marriage" and "The Warmest Room", mandolin on "Help Save the Youth of America" and "Wishing the Days Away"
  • George Shilling – assorted percussion
  • Bobby Valentino – violin on "Train Train" and "Wishing the Days Away"
  • Dave Woodhead – trumpet and flugelhorn on "The Marriage", "Levi Stubbs' Tears" and "The Home Front"
  • Hank Wangford – vocals and mandolin on "Sin City" and "Deportees"
  • Robert Handley – vocals on "Hold the Fort"

ProductionEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Talking with the Taxman About Poetry Album • Billy Bragg".
  2. ^ "Talking with the Taxman About Poetry", Billy Bragg, Elektra 9 60502-1 (1986) LP
  3. ^ Deming, Mark. "Talking with the Taxman About Poetry – Billy Bragg". AllMusic. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  4. ^ Willman, Chris (3 March 2006). "CD reissues from ZZ Top, Billy Bragg, Mott and Merle". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  5. ^ Du Noyer, Paul (October 1986). "Billy Bragg: Talking with the Taxman About Poetry". Q. No. 1.
  6. ^ "Billy Bragg: Life's a Riot with Spy vs Spy / Brewing Up with Billy Bragg / Talking with the Taxman About Poetry / The Internationale". Record Collector. No. 322. April 2006.
  7. ^ Wilkes, Jane (27 September 1986). "Billy Bragg: Talking with the Taxman About Poetry". Record Mirror. pp. 10, 12.
  8. ^ Wolk, Douglas (9 March 2006). "Billy Bragg: Talking with the Taxman About Poetry". Rolling Stone. No. 995. p. 95.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ Heath, Chris (24 September 1986). "Billy Bragg: Talking with the Taxman About Poetry". Smash Hits. Vol. 8, no. 20. p. 50.
  11. ^ Arnold, Gina (1995). "Billy Bragg". In Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig (eds.). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. pp. 57–58. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  12. ^ Christgau, Robert (24 February 1987). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  13. ^ Handelman, David (26 March 1987). "Billy Bragg: Talking With The Taxman About Poetry". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 13 May 2008. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  14. ^ Robbins, Ira. "Billy Bragg". Trouser Press. Retrieved 15 March 2021.
  15. ^ Sheridan, Tim (2006). "Billy Bragg: Talking with the Taxman About Poetry". In Dimery, Robert (ed.). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Universe Publishing. p. 550. ISBN 978-0-7893-1371-3.

External linksEdit