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Interview:
Billy Bragg applauds Bob Seger's good taste
 

By GARY GRAFF
For Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

It has not escaped Billy Bragg's attention that Bob Seger has recorded and is performing a version of "California Stars," one of the songs he and Wilco created from Woody Guthrie lyrics for their 1998 album "Mermaid Avenue."

"Yeah, of course; it pops up every now and then when I stick my name in Google," says Bragg, 55, who's currently touring to promote "Tooth & Nail," his first new album in five years. "I think that's great. I'm hoping it's a very fast, metal version."

Well, not quite.

"Damn! Well, maybe we can get Ted Nugent to do 'Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key'."

Bragg, meanwhile, is happy to have "re-engaged with the music business" with "Tooth & Nail." Produced by Rochester Adams graduate Joe Henry, the 13-track album is one of Bragg's most personal -- it was done as a balm after the death of his mother in 2011 -- and in releasing it he believes he's found a way to use the immediacy of the Internet for his more topical material while building more standard album releases around songs that have "a deeper hue, a more emotional hue."

"I think it's more effective and makes a lot of sense," Bragg notes. "Before I had to hold my anger before I made an album, which is very frustrating. 'Talking to the Taxman About Poetry' was clearly my post-miner's strike (in Britain) album, but it wasn't out until 1986 when the strike ended in '95. Now I've put five new songs for download on my web site, which of course are all very topical.

"For topical songwriting you can't argue with that opportunity. So I may have found a new template for future albums that makes them less dependent on the moment in which they're made -- and therefore much more satisfying. It makes me much more comfortable with re-engaging with the record industry. "

Billy Bragg and Kim Churchill perform at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 1, at The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $40. Call 734-761-1451 or visit www.theark.org.

Web Site: www.theark.org

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