Magazine article New Internationalist

England, Half English

Magazine article New Internationalist

England, Half English

Article excerpt

by Billy Bragg and the Blockes

(Cooking Vinyl COOK 222 CD)

A former soldier, Billy Bragg gave up the army to dedicate his working life to a songwriting that's firmly in the tradition of political folk music. To date, this most politically engaged of Britain's songwriters has addressed workers' rights, sexual equality and racism with a deft mix of anger, wit and choppy rhythms.

England, Half English (the title comes from a book on London's first West Indian immigrants by Colin Maclnnes) is a no-frills contribution to that vexed, at times politically nasty, issue of 'Englishness'. There's no such thing as racial purity, the album says. As the title song makes clear, curry is now the national dish, Saint George came from the Lebanon and Britannia is a Roman word. And if you miss the point, the song's music veers from a raucous singalong (the band isn't called the Blokes for nothing) to ska and some meltingly lovely Algerian lines. …

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