Billy Bragg (The A-Side)

Episode 1 Billy Bragg (The A-Side)



A single line of small type at the foot of Billy Bragg’s vinyl LP Talking with the Taxman about Poetry reads “The Difficult Third Album”. In a new series hosted by Front Row’s music specialist John Wilson, Billy Bragg is the first of three artists to discuss the album that made them or changed them. So, what is the problem with producing the third one, asks Wilson?

Bragg lucidily explains that the first album is full of all those songs written in the flush of youth. Some songs that didn’t make it on to the first LP are slapped on to the second, along with a couple of tracks written on the road during early tours. But the third album is the one when everyone expects something different, something that shows who you really are as an artist: think London Calling by the Clash and Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen.

It doesn’t matter whether you like Bragg’s music or not. This is a wonderful insight into the pop culture and politics of Thatcherite Britain — and Bragg leaves us with something to consider. No pop song has ever been important, only the reaction it creates with an audience.


John Wilson talks to performers and songwriters about the albums they feel made or changed them. In the first edition, Billy Bragg talks about how he created the recordings Talking with the Taxman About Poetry, There's Power in a Union and Levi Stubbs' Tears, and plays samples of his work. First aired in 2012.

Cast & Crew

Presenter John Wilson
Guest Billy Bragg
Producer Paul Kobrak
Documentary Music