Introduce me to…a Bragging Queen

As pretty much all of the readers on here have far superior music knowledge to me, I thought I would seek your advice about where to next, regarding a couple of artists.

Lets start with the Queen part first. Of course I am relatively familiar with Queen and the sorts of songs you would find on a Greatest Hits compilation, but the only album of theirs I have is A Night at the Opera. It is a brilliant album, and when I compiled my list of my top 25 favourite albums, I rated it at number two. For some time now, I have been meaning to add more Queen to my collection, but my budget doesn’t quite allow an entire back catalogue purchase.  So I am seeking your advice – which Queen album should I turn to next?

Now for the Bragging part, and by this of course I mean Billy Bragg. Unlike Queen, he doesn’t really get the radio play, so pretty much my only exposure to Billy Bragg is through the Mermaid Avenue albums with Wilco. Mermaid Avenue Vol 1 also featured on my top 25 list, at number 13. When chatting to friend about my favourite tracks on this album, he observed that I seemed to prefer the ones with Bragg on vocals rather than Tweedy or Merchant. Apart from these, the only other Bragg song I know is Rotting on Remand, which is a brilliant song. So, my question is – where do I start with Billy Bragg? Any advice you want to provide would be muchly appreciated.

20 thoughts on “Introduce me to…a Bragging Queen

  1. Since all the songs on Mermaid ave. are ‘undiscovered’ Woody lyrics with melodies supplied by Bragg and you enjoy those, consider going to the source and discovering the wonderful world of Woody. He wrote hundreds of songs, all relevant to the great depression of the ’30’s. Check out the Ballad of Tom Joad, the hero of the Grapes of Wrath then find Deportees, the story of of a plane crash in California.
    Here’s Dylan’s take on Woody:

    • Thanks for this suggestion,Woody is another on a long list of artists to get around to discovering in more detail…so little time though these days!

  2. Hi deanofromoz, Queen is an easy choice (IMHO): News of the World, simply, again as far as I’m concerned their best work by a country mile, it takes you from We Will Rock You straight in to We Are The Champions and then doesn’t let up as it streaks in to Sheer Heart Attack!

    It slows down the pace a bit with All Dead and Spread Your Wings.

    It then comes back at you with Fight From The Inside and then you’ve got to Get Down, Make Love.

    Sleeping on the Sidewalk is next followed by Who Needs You and then slows down for It’s Late and My Melancholy Blues, all in all fantastic.

    If that’s not your bag then I can also heartily recommend this year’s release of the 1974 concerts at The Rainbow, which covers much of their early works, again a phenomenal album, but take care as there are a number of options and I want for the deluxe which has about 40 tunes on from various nights at the Rainbow in both March and November.

    • Yeah, I’d back the choice of News Of The World, my overall favourite Queen studio album.

      If you love ANATO that much, I also feel obliged to point you at A Day At The Races, whose first and last tracks are in my own personal Queen Top 20.

      But what do you want to gain from your next Queen experience? ADATR is very similar to ANATO; can you afford to experiment? Personally, I rated Hot Space (funky & mildly experimental), and hated The Game (synth pap, er, pop), but most of the reviews you’ll read have that the other way round.

      More opinion if you want it, Deano ….

      • Good question DsD, and sorry for taking so long to get back to me. I think at this stage I want to head more down the Queen rock avenue than move into the 80’s pop type stuff if that makes sense, so some experimentation would be possible. But its not just their rockier stuff that I like, I do like some of the 80’s hits, and I do like a lot of the silly songs on A Night at the Opera – like Seaside Rendezvous etc.

        I suspect I will end up just keeping an eye out for a bargain at the local stores and be driven by a bargain price than a must have cd.

        The general consensus outside of this site through talking to friends etc was to go for either Queen II, Sheer Heart Attack or A Day at the Races. You lot seem to have through News of the World into the mix as well.

        Thanks again for your suggestions though, and happy to hear more opinions.

    • Thanks for this. News of the World is a new one to throw into the mix, as when I have raised this with people previously, I usually get Queen II, Sheer Heart Attack or a Day at the Races.

      Of course I do know the classic openers from it though, but most of the others are unknown to me.

  3. deanofromoz, my son arrived in Sydney on Saturday morning on his year out travelling, sounds like he’s settled in already and been to Bondi beach and drinks at the Scary Canary!

    Which part of Australia do you live?

  4. Re Billy Bragg, I would probably have said to start right at the beginning (Life’s A Riot With Spy vs. Spy), but that might be a bit too much of a culture shock.

    Go for Talking With The Taxman About Poetry. If you love it, then Billy will be a man for you; if you don’t, then you’ll probably be better served sticking with Wilco, and getting someone with several Bragg records to make you a CD-R compilation.

    • thanks for this DsD – what would be considered his most popular/critically acclaimed…would that be Talking with the Taxman?

  5. A bit late, but I don’t consider myself to be a Queen fan now, but I was very keen on them when I was a young thing (had a crush of Roger Taylor who went to the same school as my Dad). Consequently I’d put in a good word for The Works as that was out when I was a nipper and I always enjoy it.

    • its never too late to make suggestions, so thanks for throwing another album into the mix. I have got my eye on a bit of a package deal on ebay that has several of the albums mentioned, including this one,

    • cheers for this recommendation tincanman. I guess they are a bit like the Beatles, Stones or Dylan where you could ask ten fans what the definitive album is and get ten different answers.

  6. HI All – an update for anyone that cares. I just managed to score myself a bulk lot off ebay, so I have now managed to pick up Queen, Queen II, A Day at the Races, Sheer Heart Attack and the Works for a bargain basement price, which is good.

    Thank you so much everyone for your recommendations, I will let you know what I think once the new additions arrive and I get a chance to listen to them. I will also keep News of the World in mind for the future as well, given that was probably the most popular suggestion.

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