Billy Bragg - England, Half English (with The Blokes) (Cover Artwork)

Billy Bragg

Billy Bragg: England, Half English (with The Blokes)England, Half English (with The Blokes) (2002)
Warner Music Group

Reviewer Rating: 3

Contributed by: blade-runnerblade-runner
(others by this writer | submit your own)

When it comes to politically-fueled folk-pop, I would be hard-pressed to find a group and/or artist more recomendable than the very English Billy Bragg. His anti-establishment ethos and witty, intelligent lyrics have earned a sizeable amount of respect in the alternative music scene and his influenc.

When it comes to politically-fueled folk-pop, I would be hard-pressed to find a group and/or artist more recomendable than the very English Billy Bragg. His anti-establishment ethos and witty, intelligent lyrics have earned a sizeable amount of respect in the alternative music scene and his influence is evident among peers. His latest work, a collaboration with the Blokes, is Bragg's first collection of original songs in six years. But, is it worth the wait...?


The followup to the very poular 'Mermaid Avenue' series, England, Half English is more politically themed than previous efforts. With song titles like "Take Down the Union Jack" and "He'll Go Down," this is hardly surprising. The album begins with "St. Monday," an infectious rock/pop track that wouldn't feel out of place on an Elvis Costello album. One thing that struck me initially was the talent of the musicians involved, particularily pianist Ian McLagan. The goodness of track one continues into "Jane Allen" and "Distant Shore," the former of which is the first romance song on the disc, of which Bragg has been higly praised for. The next few songs are fairly mediocre, a word I would rarely associate with the artist. Things pick up again with the aforementioned "Take Down the Union Jack," the best of the poltical tracks on the album. The song is fairly slow and is followed by the overall highlight of the album, the energeitc "Another Kind of Julie." From there on we are left with a selection of songs that really didn't strike me as special, although, for the most part, they are all very much listenable.

England, Half English is a fairly dverse album, musically. The styles range from slow soul to folk and uplifting rock to ska, and pretty much everything in between. The music is perfectly executed by a group of highly capable musicians, who supply occasionally tedious instrumentals to accompany Bragg's lyrics.

I find it disheartining to give a Billy Bragg album any less than 5 stars, as most of his previous work deserves that very score. However, with England, Half English I cannot help but feel ultimately disappointed. There are some very good songs, but they are few and far between, and there are simply not enough for me to completely recommend to anyone but the avid Billy Bragg fan.

Still, his presence is neccesary in the world of pop music, now moreso than ever. I just hope that with his next relase, Bragg offers something with a little more kick.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
JustinUCR (October 8, 2006)

uh...you rate "take down the union jack" as having the most pointed of political lyrics on this record? Did you listen to "NPWA" (No Power Without Accountability)?

This record is ok, but the biggest problem is that Billy is so much more powerful when it's just his voice and a guitar. He has done a lot of good records where the band and the man fuse really well and it gels and makes sense and sounds good, but for some reason, this record doesn't do that.

So while it may be very frustrating as an artist to not be able to flesh out songs with a full band, I've either seen him play or heard live recordings of a handful of these songs where it's just him a a guitar and they're fantastic.

Narm (October 8, 2005)

My bad, that Discount ep is called LOVE Billy.

Narm (October 8, 2005)

I've always been partial to Worker's Play Time, but this album is good too. Discount's ep of Billy Bragg covers (Hello Billy) is worth owning as well.

Anonymous (October 8, 2005)

this is the only "punk" i can get my gf to listen to.
anytime i dont have to listen to 3 doors down, i consider myself victorious

steveman (October 6, 2005)

Back To Basics is an incredible album. None of his other work compares. I have "The Essential Billy Bragg" and if you've seen it you'll notice that most of Back To Basics is on there.

blade-runner (October 4, 2005)

If you like, you should also give Wilco a listen.

They are the band Bragg collaborated with in the Mermaid Avenue series; kinda like this but with a more Bob Dylan-ish feel.

GreenVandal (October 3, 2005)

Watching Blade Runner is like watching a live action anime. That movie is overflowing with goodness.

I never heard this guy. I shal give it a try.

burntorangepeel (October 3, 2005)

Billy Bragg's Back to Basics is excellent, almost perfect.

stevejonestherealbones (October 2, 2005)

blade runner was one heck of a good movie...and then whenever i think about blade runner i think of running man too. and that was dope as well

- jones the bones

- stevejones8770@yahoo.com

Anonymous (October 2, 2005)

ive found that the good songs being few and far between is true about almost all of his records. the only exception being "workers playtime"

but the good songs are always VERY good

Fuzzy (October 2, 2005)

The Mermaid Ave albums are fantastic.

wehavecomeforyourchildren (October 2, 2005)

i tried to get into this, but it just wasn't happening.

gladimnotemo (October 2, 2005)

The only Billy Bragg I have is "Back To Basics", and it's really great. The modern stuff isn't that great, in my opinion. Too much rock, not enough folk.

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