Tune du Jour: “A New England” – Billy Bragg
THE CLASH of Cover Tunes: Across the Border vs. The King Blues vs. Too Much Joy
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Broccoli Fields Forever ...

Broccoli Fields Forever …



The Original



Billy Bragg:


In Memoriam

Kirsty MacColl:

While not a huge fan of most of her work, it’s impossible not to admire Kirsty MacColl. Hell, any musician worthy of working with Billy Bragg, Talking Heads, The Smiths and, most of all, The Pogues, has earned my respect. And while on stage she always looked to be having a grand time, a sentiment that is foreign to many “important” musicians. Fairytale of New York” is an enduring masterpiece and, of course, it is MacColl who expertly croons and trades barbs with Shane MacGowan in the song. If that were her only musical accomplishment then I’d still consider her a special talent for contributing to a pitch-perfect, raucous, yet sentimental ballad.

Billy Bragg’s “A New England” is far superior to any cover I’ve heard of the song. Still, it is worth noting that Kirsty MacColl actually enjoyed the most commercial success from the song. A year after Bragg included “A New England” on his 1983 album, Life’s A Riot With Spy vs. Spy, MacColl released it as a single. She obviously had Bragg’s blessing in that, at her behest, he wrote additional verses for her, which she consolidated into one closing verse. “A New England” became MacColl’s biggest hit, reaching number 7 in the UK Singles Chart and number 8 in the Irish Singles Chart. In 2000, MacColl tragically died while saving the life of her son during a boating accident. In tribute to Kirsty MacColl, Bragg subsequently began including the additional verse during performances of the song.


THE CLASH of Cover Tunes


Across the Border vs. The King Blues vs. Too Much Joy
Across the Border:

The King Blues:

Too Much Joy:


Oh the disharmony! Much like Harlan County there are no neutrals here. It is your solemn responsibility to decide which cover song prevails. In other words … Which Side Are You On?!!? 


Disclaimer: Votes cast from Florida may or may not be counted.

  1. Cuspid says:

    Not even a courtesy mention of Kirsty MacColl?

    • RDubbs says:

      Good point, Doug. It was a total oversight not to mention Kirsty, especially since her cover was a big hit in both the United Kingdom and Irish charts. Technically it should have been included under the Most Popular moniker. I guess I overlooked it because it is hard for me to consider any cover of the song to be more acclaimed than Bragg’s superb creation.

      But MacColl was such a cool person and great performer that I am moved to make the an edit to the post and include her.

  2. Cuspid says:

    Was going to give this one to The King Blues. But Too Much Joy won me over. There’s something about these guys that always make me smirk. Never heard them do a bad song.

  3. bornunderabadsign says:

    What Cuspid said…and I would add that King Blues made a strong second place…

  4. RDubbs says:

    Considering I choose the entrants, not surprisingly I like all three of these covers. Each is quite different from the others and my mood surely dictates which one I prefer at any given time. I definitely have to be in an energized state to lean towards Too Much Joys frenetic, race-to-the-finish enterprise. Conversely, The King Blues version would lean heavily towards a winding down, melodic state. Across the Border won my vote. It falls somewhere between its competitors in genre and has a pleasing, playful tone. I find it endearing. I think the “Oh Oh Oh Oh” choral addition put them over the top. Well, at least for this morning.

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