A Rough Trade, Mojo and FT Book of the Year
SHORTLISTED FOR THE PENDERYN MUSIC BOOK PRIZE
Emerging from the jazz clubs of the early 1950s, skiffle – a uniquely British take on American folk and blues – caused a sensation among a generation of kids who had grown up during the dreary post-war years. Teenagers were looking for a music of their own in a culture dominated by crooners and mediated by a stuffy BBC. Against a backdrop of Cold War politics, rock and roll riots and a newly assertive working-class youth, Billy Bragg charts – for the first time in depth – the history, impact and legacy of a movement that sparked a revolution and shaped pop culture as we have come to know it.
Billy Bragg has been a tireless recording artist, performer and political campaigner for over thirty years. His albums include his punk-charged debut, Life's a Riot with Spy Vs Spy, Talking with the Taxman About Poetry, Don't Try This at Home, the treatise on national identity timed to coincide with the Queen's Golden Jubilee, England, Half English, and his stripped-down latest, Tooth and Nail. Billy has enjoyed a No. 1 hit single, had a street named after him, been the subject of a South Bank Show, appeared onstage at Wembley Stadium, curated Left Field at Glastonbury, shared spotted dick with a Cabinet Minister in the House of Commons cafeteria, been mentioned in Bob Dylan's memoir, and shaken hands with the Queen. At their best, his songs present 'the perfect Venn diagram between the political and the personal' (Guardian). Billy published A Lover Sings with Faber in 2015, containing over seventy of his best-known lyrics, selected and annotated by the author.