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Life’s a Riot with Spy vs. Spy (1983)The short, sharp shock that started it all, Bragg’s debut offered a succinct string of political firecrackers and love songs, unvarnished and played almost completely solo.
Brewing Up with Billy Bragg (1984)Bragg expanded his instrumental palette on this proper-length sophomore set, which featured Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr and songs that became staples of his incendiary live sets.
Workers Playtime (1988)The ideal place for a Bragg newbie to start exploring, this rock-solid full-band set delivered a signature anthem in the tartly poignant “Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards.”
Mermaid Avenue (1998)Tapped by Woody Guthrie’s daughter to weave songs around her father’s unused lyrics, Bragg recruited Wilco to help him deliver Guthrie’s potent words in a thoroughly modern idiom.
Mr. Love & Justice (2008)Marking Bragg’s return to solo work after a six-year break, this set demonstrated that the English firebrand was growing old gracefully—and without losing his edge.

Billy Bragg: Five must-hear albums (slide show)

Get to know Mr. Love & Justice with these essential albums.

By Steve Smith

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