She filled my head with the awful noise of her disppointment and the Pet Shop Boys

I was going to write about how I was sitting around today watching the Bengals lose yet another game, but the lucky bastards just scored and took the lead on an amazing series of events. They probably still won't make the playoffs so I guess my disappointment will ultimately be rewarded. How's that for a bright outlook on the new year?

I figured I'd end my year the way I started it, by listening to an album on Declan. Today I've made it to England, Half English the most recent studio album by Billy Bragg, released in 2002.

Billy hasn't done an album in awhile because he's been contemplating what it means to be English, and this album represents the musical seed of those thoughts. There are tunes about immigration, international influence and the death of the British Empire. It's a little brooding and angry but still contains some of those funny lyrical nuggets that make me love Billy so.

(Update, the Steelers just scored so the Bengals are back on their way to losing.)

What I remember most about England, Half English, though, is it contains one of the truly terrible protest songs and possibly the worst one Billy Bragg has ever written. I've always liked Billy's political tunes, even if I don't always agree with them, because they were catchy and/or funny. Sadly "NPWA" is neither. It's a ponderous rant about the World Bank. Seriously, the World Bank ("NPWA" stands for the choral chant, "No power without accountability.") The song is stuck right in the middle of the album, interrupting any flow that might otherwise exist. Thanks, Billy.

As always, my favorite tunes on the album are about relationships. "Jane Allen" about an old flame looking for a hookup and "Another Kind Of Judy" about god knows what, but it's sweet. Some have frowned on the world music style backing band on the album. Fans of old school, Billy-and-a-guitar albums might be overwhelmed with all the stuff going on, but don't mind it. It does sounds like it could old, though, so I hope the next album is a return to simplicity. I also hope it's a return to protest songs that don't suck.

(Update: The Bengals just scored again, so they're back in the lead. This team is such a flirt, but they never call.)


The Evacuee said...

I was just listening to Bragg's "A New England" earlier today. No kidding.

Eileen said...

Wow, I can't think of many other people around who can say that (besides me). BTW thanks for the listing your blogroll.