August 19, 1997
Cooking Vinyl
Pop/Rock, Urban Folk, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Psychedelic, British Folk, Folk-Rock

Album Review

The quintessential folk-rocker Billy Bragg once said "the revolution is just a T-shirt away." He's a comic, he's a poet, and he keeps up with his sharp humor on the seven-song EP, Bloke on Bloke. He teams up once again with ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr on "The Boy Done Good," a brilliant new song mixing football metaphors with nostalgic tales of boy meets girl. "Qualifications" is a bouncy track sifting through the ways of the working class, full with jangly guitars and humming backing vocals. It's a natural. Dipping into 1996's William Bloke, his first record since 1991's Don't Try This at Home, he gets sentimental on "Sugardaddy." This soft lullaby-like tune is dreamy, holding high notes and shimmering with a drum machine. Perhaps he is tapping into his paternal psyche since he became a first parent in 1993 with son, Jack. It's a smooth transition from his signature political nature exuded through rock & roll. "Sugardubby (Smokey Gets in Your Ears Remix)" is a shoegazing and breezy twist from the original version. Doing his own impression of Morrissey, Bragg turns to covering the Smiths' "Never Had No One Ever." Howling and brooding like Morrissey always does, this brash track prances with a blazing woodwinds and brass section. He can get down right dirty if he chooses -- he's too much of a class act to ever do so -- but this attempt makes his trudging impression to be a bit naughty. In a similar vein, he samples the traditional song "Ye Jacobites" to complete the harkening notions on "Thatcherites." Assumingly classic, Bloke on Bloke is intelligent and quirky. It's Bragg's continuing support for some kind of revolution. He's trying to figure that one out.
MacKenzie Wilson, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. The Boy Done Good
  2. Qualifications
  3. Sugar Daddy [Smokey Gets in Your Ears Mix]
  4. Never Had No One Ever
  5. Sugardubby
  6. Rule Nor Reason
  7. Thatcherites