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Billy Bragg

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  • November 29, 2013

    On the acclaimed Mermaid Avenue albums, Billy Bragg and Wilco put music to lyrics by folk legend Woody Guthrie for which he had not written music or made recordings. Nonesuch Records has now reissued the first two volumes on vinyl and release, for the first time on vinyl, a third volume comprising 17 previously unreleased recordings made during the original sessions, which was first released in the 2012 three-CD-plus-DVD set Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions. Each volume is pressed on 2-LP, 180-gram vinyl at Pallas MFG in Diepholz, Germany. 

  • November 04, 2013

    On the acclaimed Mermaid Avenue albums, Billy Bragg and Wilco put music to lyrics by folk legend Woody Guthrie for which he had not written music or made recordings. On Black Friday, November 29, 2013, Nonesuch Records will reissue the first two volumes on vinyl and release, for the first time on vinyl, a third volume comprising 17 previously unreleased recordings made during the original sessions, which was first released in the 2012 three-CD-plus-DVD set Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions. Each volume is pressed on 2-LP, 180-gram vinyl at Pallas MFG in Diepholz, Germany. The albums are available to pre-order in the Nonesuch Store.

  • about Billy Bragg

    Billy Bragg was inspired by punk, forming his first band in his hometown of Barking, east London in 1977. They released one EP on Chiswick Records before burning out as the 80s dawned. Looking to press the eject button on his punk days, Billy joined the British Army in 1981, training to become a tank driver in the Royal Armoured Corps. Things didn’t work out—“When you’ve driven one tank, you’ve driven them all” was Billy’s terse comment—and in early 1982 he found himself back on the streets of Barking, still writing songs.

    Drawing inspiration from the do-it-yourself attitude that was at the core of punk rock, he decided to take on the world single-handedly, armed with only an electric guitar. Following a year of relentless gigging, his first album, Life’s a Riot with Spy vs Spy, came out in 1983. He famously scored his first radio play by delivering a mushroom biryani to a hungry John Peel at the BBC.

    Billy was politicized by Rock Against Racism in the late 1970s and, as a result, saw his music as a platform by which to offer listeners a different perspective of events. He marshaled his songs in opposition to Margaret Thatcher, supporting the miners when they went on strike in 1984 and subsequently founding Red Wedge, a collective of left-wing musicians who campaigned for the defeat of Thatcher at the 1987 election.

    Although often defined by his political songs, Billy is also a writer of great love songs. He says, “ I write about the things make me angry: sometimes it’s the government, sometimes it’s the girl.” His ability to describe the emotional peaks and troughs of loving someone have led Billy to be described at the "Sherpa of Heartache," helping others to navigate the difficult terrain of modern relationships.

    In 1992, Woody Guthrie’s daughter, Nora, approached Billy with the idea that he put new music to lyrics that her father had written in Brooklyn in the 1940s. Billy invited Wilco to join him in the project and the resulting album Mermaid Avenue came out to great acclaim in 1998. A second volume was released in 2000. Both were nominated for Grammy awards.

    In 2012, Nonesuch Records released a third volume of tracks from the original sessions and a collection of all three records to mark the centenary of Woody’s birth. Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions also includes a DVD documentary about the making of the album.

on February 1, 2012 - 6:31pm

Billy Bragg was inspired by punk, forming his first band in his hometown of Barking, east London in 1977. They released one EP on Chiswick Records before burning out as the 80s dawned. Looking to press the eject button on his punk days, Billy joined the British Army in 1981, training to become a tank driver in the Royal Armoured Corps. Things didn’t work out—“When you’ve driven one tank, you’ve driven them all” was Billy’s terse comment—and in early 1982 he found himself back on the streets of Barking, still writing songs.

Drawing inspiration from the do-it-yourself attitude that was at the core of punk rock, he decided to take on the world single-handedly, armed with only an electric guitar. Following a year of relentless gigging, his first album, Life’s a Riot with Spy vs Spy, came out in 1983. He famously scored his first radio play by delivering a mushroom biryani to a hungry John Peel at the BBC.

Billy was politicized by Rock Against Racism in the late 1970s and, as a result, saw his music as a platform by which to offer listeners a different perspective of events. He marshaled his songs in opposition to Margaret Thatcher, supporting the miners when they went on strike in 1984 and subsequently founding Red Wedge, a collective of left-wing musicians who campaigned for the defeat of Thatcher at the 1987 election.

Although often defined by his political songs, Billy is also a writer of great love songs. He says, “ I write about the things make me angry: sometimes it’s the government, sometimes it’s the girl.” His ability to describe the emotional peaks and troughs of loving someone have led Billy to be described at the "Sherpa of Heartache," helping others to navigate the difficult terrain of modern relationships.

In 1992, Woody Guthrie’s daughter, Nora, approached Billy with the idea that he put new music to lyrics that her father had written in Brooklyn in the 1940s. Billy invited Wilco to join him in the project and the resulting album Mermaid Avenue came out to great acclaim in 1998. A second volume was released in 2000. Both were nominated for Grammy awards.

In 2012, Nonesuch Records released a third volume of tracks from the original sessions and a collection of all three records to mark the centenary of Woody’s birth. Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions also includes a DVD documentary about the making of the album.

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Of his involvement with the Mermaid Avenue project, Bragg writes: "I first met Nora (Guthrie) in July 1992, at a concert in Central Park, New York, to commemorate Woody’s 80th birthday. She began sending me lyrics of her father’s unrecorded songs, encouraging me to write new music and make a collaborative album. Her initiative finally bore fruit in 1997, when I got together with Wilco in Chicago and Dublin, where we recorded nearly 50 ‘new’ Woody Guthrie songs."

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