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Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!: Day 153 - Riff Raff

I Wanna Be A Cosmonaut EP - Riff Raff
Chiswick Records
Produced by Ruan O'Lochlainn, The Ruff Micks
Released June 1978 (though Billy Bragg thinks it was April 1978)

A1 Cosmonaut (Written-By – Billy Bragg) 
A2 Romford Girls (Written-By – Billy Bragg, Robert Handley)
B1 What's The Latest (Written-By – Billy Bragg)
B2 Sweet As Pie (Written-By – Billy Bragg)
Everyone has to start somewhere and the man we know as the Bard of Barking, Stephen William "Billy" Bragg began his musical life in 1977 when him and his mate Wiggy formed Riff Raff. Their debut EP was released on Chiswick Records, not that a lot of people outside of London knew about it.

Here's some thoughts by the man himself on Riff Raff's debut EP.

They didn't stick around for too long releasing a single on Albion and the final four singles on the Geezer label. They split in 1980. You can hear all the singles below. The final single New Home Town even has a song that Billy would record for his solo career, Richard. Infact you can already begin to see what Bragg would become in the last few singles.

Afterwards Bragg went off to join the British Army but after three months bought himself out for £175 and returned home. He began playing some shows and busking under the banner of Spy Vs Spy. He also made a demo and shopped it around.

His demo tape initially got no response from the record industry, but by pretending to be a television repair man, he got into the office of Charisma Records' A&R man Peter Jenner. Jenner liked the tape, but the company was near bankruptcy and had no budget to sign new artists. Bragg got an offer to record more demos for music publisher Chappell & Co., so Jenner agreed to release them as a record. Life's a Riot with Spy Vs. Spy (credited to Billy Bragg) was released in July 1983 by Charisma's new imprint, Utility

I love this story: Hearing DJ John Peel mention on-air that he was hungry one night, Bragg rushed to the BBC with a mushroom biryani, so Peel played a song from Life's a Riot with Spy Vs. Spy albeit at the wrong speed (since the 12" LP was, unconventionally, cut to play at 45rpm). Peel insisted he would have played the song even without the biryani and later played it at the correct speed. 

Gives me a chuckle everytime, but I guess that's how you take the opportunities that come your way.

Riff Raff - The Singles

Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!
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