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  Listen Up! 3/6/02 Listen Up!

Wednesday, Mar. 6

Billy Bragg and the Blokes, "England, Half English," Elektra Records. Billy Bragg is a frustrating bloke. Sometimes, he exhibits a grasp of pop melody that weds to lyrical sophistication in magnificent ways. Other times, he writes these thick lyrics - often the political ones - that he deems so important that he doesn't bother to write tunes. This album is about half pop, half political tuneless rants. Even if I agree with him, I'd rather hear the pop songs. Great band here, featuring former Small Face Ian McLagan on keyboards. The first two songs, "St. Monday" and "Jane Allen" seem like the best bets this time around.

Candy Butchers, "Play With Your Head," RPM Records. A very mundane pop/rock band with no discernible melodic direction.

Rolling Stones, "Got Live if You Want it!," Abkco Records. I've never actually listened to this live album from the mid-sixties, when the Stones were not yet the larger-than-life figures they would soon become. It's fascinating to hear them pull off a ballad like "Lady Jane," even with the out of tune flute or guitar or both. The girls are screaming, the band is playing hits, and the excitement is palpable.

--Steve Pick



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