After Elektra signed Billy Bragg to his first major-label deal and released Talking with the Taxman About Poetry in 1986, the label decided to do a clean-up job on his back catalog and compiled Back to Basics, which combined the material from Bragg's first three records – Life's a Riot with Spy vs Spy, Brewing Up with Billy Bragg, and Between the Wars – into one two-record set (now available on a single CD). The first seven cuts, from the Life's a Riot EP, are Billy Bragg at his most basic; recorded in an afternoon with no overdubs, the audio is rough and Billy's electric guitar often threatens to drown out his voice, but the performances are game, and Bragg was already writing top-notch songs like "A New England" and "The Milkman of Human Kindness."
Growers of Mushroom is the first album by British hard rock band Leaf Hound. The album reportedly took only 11 hours to record in Mayfair's Spot Studios. It has become a much-sought-after LP by collectors (a mint condition copy sold for $4329.00 USD in March 2016). Growers of Mushroom became a collectors item in the years to come and was voted the number one most collectible rock album in Q magazine. This is the only album by the classic Leaf Hound line-up. A few months after recording it, the group disbanded, but re-united in 2004, thirty-three years later.
Here is another LP helping from the Keith Jarrett "American" Quartet's last recording session – one that is almost as consistent in quality as its predecessor. The happy-go-lucky groove of the title track perfectly expresses its name, with Jarrett blithely singing along; both Dewey Redman and Charlie Haden get plenty of solo space on Redman's "Gotta Get Some Sleep" and Haden's "Pocket Full of Cherry" (a pun referring to Haden cohort Don Cherry); and Paul Motian remains a marvelously flexible drummer. Moreover, there is another fascinating swatch of Middle Eastern experimentation on "Pyramids Moving."