I still remember the first time I heard Billy Bragg. My friend had a vinyl copy of "Back to Basics" and I made a cassette recording of it and just wore it out. I hadn't ever heard anyone like him, a folk singer with an electric guitar and a Cockney snarl. He's probably best known for his political songs, but he's also written and sang some really beautiful love and heartbreak songs. There are so many great ones, I'll try to post a few highlights.
Funny thing, when I first heard this next song, it reminded me of the Smiths. Not that Billy sounds anything like Morrisey or anything, and it doesn't have that Smiths jangle or whatever, but there's something about the structure or the chord progression, or something - I don't know, I'm not a musician - Anyway, I looked at the liner notes and saw Johnny Marr and I felt oddly validated.
When I first heard about the Mermaid Avenue project, I thought "sure, Billy Bragg, that's a perfect fit, but Wilco? That's a bit odd." But damn if it didn't work perfectly!
And Billy really brings the old labor songs to life.