Billy Bragg singing "Hard Times of Old England" with the Imagined Village.
It's growing on me. When I first listened last night, I found it a bit too slow, but it doesn't feel so much that way now. The intriguing ensemble includes, along with Bragg and other notables, folk icon Martin Carthy and his daughter, fiddler Eliza Carthy, not to mention Paul Weller. The idea of approaching traditional music from a contemporary blend of styles and instruments drawn from the musics of modern Britain's many cultural groups certainly delivers a rich, if sometimes sonorous, sound. One request: if Bragg isn't going to play, at least let him hold a guitar--he has no idea what to with his hands.
The Imagined Village project certainly blends well with Bragg's current interest in what constitutes an English identity today, a topic about which he's written and even devoted most of an album. I didn't find that record very successful as music, unfortunately, though I look forward to reading the book. I do wonder what Bragg and Weller say to one another these days. Obviously it's been a long time, and no doubt they've had plenty of opportunities in the relatively small world of British pop to meet and talk, but I recall from Bragg's official biography a movement on his part from admiration for Weller to a certain amount of disappointment and disillusionment in the aftermath of the Red Wedge effort. Whether that was deserved, or Bragg was simply misguided, or if I'm even remembering correctly may all be doubted, but it interests me nonethless. Anyway, a clip from old times to end this post.