Billy Bragg's 12 must-have CDs -- The Blokes singer loves Bob Marley, the Clash, and 10 others

By EW Staff
Updated February 17, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST
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1 LAURA NYRO New York Tendaberry 1969 (Columbia) ”In my teens, I worked in a record store where the staff was always playing interesting records. This is how I came across Laura Nyro. What a songwriter she was.”

2 VARIOUS ARTISTS Motown Chartbusters, Vol. 3 1969 (PolyGram) ”The first album I really craved owning.”

3 THE CLASH The Clash 1977 (CBS) ”I was 19 when I first saw the Clash, and it changed my life, buddy.”

4 BOB MARLEY AND THE WAILERS Live! At the Lyceum 1986 (Island) ”Now, there’s a concert I wish I had been at. The greatest live record ever made.”

5 THE SHANGRI-LAS Golden Hits of the Shangri-Las 1966 (Mercury) ”’Give Him a Great Big Kiss’ is one of those wonderfully transgressive songs that you could play and still have a laugh.”

6 DAVID BOWIE The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars 1972 (RCA) ”When I was at school, at lunchtime all the pretty girls were going round to one of their houses and listening to Bowie records. I immediately became a Bowie expert.”

7 PAUL ROBESON Ballad for Americans 1967 (Vanguard) ”In difficult times he reminds me how great America can be when it puts its mind to it.”

8 CHUCK BERRY The Great Twenty-Eight 1982 (Chess) ”What a clarion call to a generation: ‘Roll over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news.’ Nobody’s ever summed up what was going on in popular culture the way that line did.”

9 BOB DYLAN The Times They Are A-Changin’ 1964 (Columbia) ”I swapped my copy of the Jackson 5’s Greatest Hits for a school friend’s dad’s copy. I just went to that incredibly raw place and it hit me hard.”

10 THE JAM Sound Affects 1980 (POLYGRAM) ”It really doesn’t get much more English than the Jam. The truly great thing about them was that they managed to evolve and move forward while keeping the intensity of punk and a commitment to political activity.”

11 THE LOUVIN BROTHERS Tragic Songs of Life 1956 (CAPITOL) ”It’s full of these gory ballads of early demise and lovelorn heartbreak. It’s actually quite a good sing-along record in the car.”

12 JOANNA NEWSOM The Milk-Eyed Mender 2004 (DRAG CITY) ”It’s got that sort of strange darkness that the Louvin Brothers have — but if I put it on in the car, my kids scream at me. They really can’t hack it.”

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