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Mermaid Avenue - The Complete Sessions

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iTunes Review

As its title implies, this is the Complete set of tunes recorded by Billy Bragg and Wilco, featuring their music and Woody Guthrie's lyrics. It includes the two previously issued volumes of Mermaid Avenue (named for the street of the Guthrie family's Coney Island home) and a third vault-clearing volume where the tunes are a bit sparser and less fully orchestrated in spots. It makes sense, these being the songs that the musicians decided not to further pursue. Despite that caveat, there's still plenty to recommend. The gloomy beauty of "Bugeye Jim" and "Where the Roses Bloom Again" (best known in a heartbreaking version by classic retro-country's Laura Cantrell and previously available on the now out-of-print Chelsea Walls soundtrack), the full-band pulse of "Be Kind to the Boy on the Road," and the shuffling sway of "Ain't a Gonna Grieve" are sweet counterparts to the already-known "California Stars," "Ingrid Bergman," and "Remember the Mountain Bed." Guthrie's daughter Nora couldn't have asked for better from these musicians in bringing new life to a man whose legacy deserves to live and breathe in the contemporary air. 

Customer Reviews

twin masterpieces

This series of albums blends Wilco's 90's hammer-on charm with the haunting, sardonic tones of folk singer Billy Bragg. The resulting landscape is like the mouth of a dust bowl; it's a pure tribute to Woodie Guthrie. Bragg and Wilco weave arching melodies with dance-hall nostalgia that echoes across the plains, providing a desert carnival backdrop to Guthrie's colorful, tragic words. The first two albums are companion masterpieces, classic odes to migration and Americana. But while the albums' organic sounds recall the dry prairie, the musical journey here is rich and devastating. Guthrie's stark poetry is some of the finest in the American canon, and the albums, especially Mermaid Avenue Vol. II, hint at the atmospheric genius that would later become a hallmark of Wilco's legacy. Marked with shimmering guitars, the third album unearths several, unreleased treasures from these now legendary recording sessions-- and who knows what "secrets of the sea" it will yield in time
-pete thompson

Not getting it and I

Over twenty bucks to download the new songs from Vol. III or thirty to buy the whole package? Thanks, but I have the first two records. I'll wait until the third is released stand-alone.

Why so expensive?

$30 seems fair for all three , but why pay $20 for vol III alone. Pricing scheme seems to h those of us who already bought I and II


Born: December 20, 1957 in Barking Town Hall, London, Englan

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Finding inspiration in the righteous anger of punk rock and the socially conscious folk tradition of Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan, Billy Bragg was the leading figure of the anti-folk movement of the '80s. For most of the decade, Bragg bashed out songs alone on his electric guitar, singing about politics and love. While his lyrics were bitingly intelligent and clever, they were also warm and humane, filled with detail and wit. Even though his lyrics were carefully considered, Bragg never neglected...
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