Sunday, June 19, 2011

Billy Bragg & Kirsty MacColl Hackney Empire (1991)

Wince-inducing cover art aside, this is a BIG one. It`s a New Year's Eve concert broadcast live by the BBC this includes lots of Bragg-iness and also an entire set by the wildly-talented and prematurely-departed Kirsty MacColl. Billy and Kirsty's intersecting history includes having their less-than-auspicious debut records come out on the same day in June of 1978 on Chiswick Records (Bily in Riff Raff, Kirsty in The Drug Adix), both having covered Smiths` songs (Bille did "Jeanne" and Kirsty totally owned "You Just Haven't Earned it Yet, Baby" ) having both recorded Bragg's "A New England" (Billy`s had less words and Kirsty`s had more production) and, always a big one for this blogger, they both loved The Clash:

Interestingly, Billy and Kirsty also bonded over the less-than-stellar Johnny Moped song "Darling, Let's Have Another Baby" to which they manage to inject a lot of life.

CD 1 76:09
Billy Bragg:
1. Richard
2. Little Time Bomb
3. St Swithin's Day
4. A Lover Sings
5. Honey I'm A Big Boy Now
6. The Few
7. The Man In The Iron Mask
8. Levi Stubbs Tears

Kirsty MacColl & Band
9. A New England
10. Fifteen Minutes
11. Don't Come The Cowboy
12. Train In Vain
13. Walking Down Madison
14. Free World
15. They Don't Know
16. There's a Guy Down at the Chip Shop Swears he's Elvis
17. Fairytale of New York
18. Darling Lets Have Another Baby (w/ Bragg).

CD 2 75:10
Jupitus as Porky the Poet
19. Bestiality

Billy Bragg
20. Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards
21. The Warmest Room
22. Suwlk
23. Accident Waiting to Happen
24. Help Save The Youth Of America

25. Auld Lang Syne

Billy Bragg
26. You Woke up my Neighbourhood
27. Greetings to the New Brunette
28. Body of Water
29. North Sea Bubble
30. Must I Paint You A Picture
31. Mother of the Bride
32. Cindy of a Thousand Lives (w/ MacColl)
33. Sexuality (w/ MacColl)

CD 3 30:08 / 33:05 / 2.48
34. Between The Wars > A New England
35. Billericay Dickie

36. A Message To You,Rudi > Messages / Intros

Billy Bragg
37. A13, Trunk Road to the Sea

By the 90`s Bragg was touring with a full band (led by long-time associate Wiggy), The Red Stars, who I saw at The Commodore in Vancouver in 1991. The band was good, as this bootleg ably demonstrates, but there was a certain air of business-as-usualness that those old solo shows never had.

So COMMENTERS, two questions, what did you make off Bragg`s Red Stars era and what`s your take on Kirsty MacColl (and don't forget that the comment section is where you'll find the three Hackney Empire links).

P.S. I`m still looking for shows from a few different eras so if anyone knows a good source for Billy Bragg bootlegs let me know!!

Support the artist!






  1. This






















  2. I had a cassette bootleg of part of this show, Kirsty sounds great. But even better to have the whole lot now.

  3. had been lookin for this one for a while. thanks!

  4. I was at this gig... It was a great night... Kirsty and Billy in fine voice !

  5. Have you looked at (you may need to register, but they are all legal boots) for other gigs. There is about 10 there from 1991 onwards. The Mountain Stage on 1991-04-28, although short, is very good, especially the sing along on the first track. Only he & Robyn Hitchcock can do that intersong banter so well (for me anyway).

  6. Thanks for the Billy Bragg Boots. Hard To Find Here In Medellín, Colombia, SA. El Gringo Viejo Really Enjoys Your Blog. Thanks For All The Music.

  7. Wow! Thank you very much for uploading this incredible set!
    I'm a huge Kirsty fan, (also Billy)
    I have never expected I would come across this.
    Thank you again!

  8. Thanks for this great post!

  9. Thanx for these.

    Re "The Red Star" period I loved it just because there was more instruments & they didn't overpower the bard.

    Kirsty McColl I liked some of her music but was (am) not a fan as I've only got 2 or 3 of her albums.

  10. Glad you all liked this two-fer!


    Good call on the link

  11. I've never really been a huge Billy Bragg fan (more out of ignorance than distaste), but Kirsty MacCall has been criminally overlooked here in the states. I first came across her when stationed in the UK the time the Kite album came out, and was completely hooked. I wonder what she'd be doing today.

    Unrelated, but Helium Angel did a really good cover of Accident Waiting to Happen...

  12. Thanks!
    I first saw Billy Bragg in concert at Club Soda in Montreal in 89. A triple bill with Greg Trooper and Meryn Cadell (?) opening.
    It was a bitter cold night. My friend and I were admiring the "Capitalism is Killing Music" t-shirts on sale by the door when the front door to the club opened and Billy pushed past us and on into the back - his face red and nose running from the extreme cold.
    A few minutes later the show began with Meryn Cadell (if I recall correctly) taking the stage. About midway through her set Billy came out behind her and started dancing around in bright red onesie long johns. She couldn't figure out why everyone started laughing at her.

    Later Greg Trooper took the stage. He amazed the crowd when, after violently strumming his guitar he broke 3-4 strings. He kept right on going, stomping his foot and singing nonesense while frantically restringing the guitar with extras he had in his pocket. Bah Dah duh Dah Dah *stomp* *stomp* dah duh while bent over giving the guitar a quick tune. He was able to finish the song with all 6 strings restored. The crowd went nuts. Billy called him out again later to sing "Over There". A memorable night.

    I saw him in 91 at the Spectrum with the Red Stars - a more subdued affair.

  13. Kirsty live. Many thanks for that (and Billy).

  14. Thank you.

    Thank you.

    Thank you.

    (Three links-- three thanks.)


  15. Thank you so much. A great great treasure!

  16. Thanks! As for my take on Kirsty
    MacColl, I think she's just
    brilliant all around. (Actually, I
    wonder if you could maybe come up with one of the two or three live
    recordings, from 1995, that
    feature her version of the Lowell George song "Roll 'Em Easy.")

  17. Many thanks for this. I was there for this and the other NYE shows.Great nights, remember them well!!

  18. Huge Kirsty fan here -- thank you for the show! She is missed.

  19. Would have loved to have seen this - I saw BB in 1984, supporting Dave Gilmour, I think - and was a Kirsty fan too. Sadly I'd moved out of London by 1991. So great to hear this.

  20. Thanks for this great memory of the night. Is pt3 completely full only seems to have one track?

  21. Can't believe Shane McGowan out-lived Kirsty MacColl.

  22. I've loved Billy's music since the early 80s. Only saw him once - Finsbury Park in 1997. He was well chuffed at the recent demise of the Tory government. As were we all. Kirsty I never saw, unfortunately. Who called her the female Noel Coward? ;) R.I.P. Kirsty.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  23. Hi
    It doesn't works.
    PLEASE repost this one.
    Many thanks in advance.


  24. Reup of this would be MIGHTILY appreciated. Hope you can get to it. Far too little of Kirsty out there.


  25. Never mind - found it on! Thanks anyway :)



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