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Mr Love and Justice ‘ Billy Bragg

BY CHRIS PEKEN

Mr Love and Justice is probably the most apt title yet in terms of describing the yin and yang of Billy Bragg; for Billy’s songs have always fallen into one of two categories – love or politics. And the release of this album also marks the 25th anniversary of Billy’s first gig at the North London Polytechnic Sociology Departments annual disco in 1982. 25 years of one man, one guitar, one voice and a whole lot of friends along the way, both as musical accomplices and as devoted listeners. Billy has always been at his best live, where he can most directly communicate ‘ ‘it’s about connecting with people.’ The success or failure of a Billy Bragg album tends to hang on how well he translates this relationship in the studio. As such it has tended to be his ‘love’ songs that work best. On Mr Love and Justice we have a couple of class A examples in the title track and Something Happened, a classic raw Bragg tune that alternates one of his sweetest guitar melodies with a crunching primitive raw guitar sound. Billy is at his best when he lets his guitar and voice carry the day. For he is a simple man, that William bloke, and his messages are simple, clear pleas, messages of hope, love and humanity: ‘And I’m flying again / Yes I’m flying again / Because you make me brave / Yes you make me brave’.

*** ½