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Mermaid Avenue, Vol. II

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Editors’ Notes

The sequel to 1998's Mermaid Avenue, Vol. 1 continued its predecessor's effort to reinvent Woody Guthrie in the popular imagination. Billy Bragg and Wilco concocted both albums using old Guthrie lyrics and newly written folk and rock tunes. Listeners get a glimpse of Woody the familiar rabble-rouser in Bragg's "All You Fascists" and "Against th' Law." But more often, these songs show previously unseen sides of the iconic troubadour. Wilco's Jeff Tweedy plucks the most interesting material, including the spare, reflective "Someday Some Morning Sometime," the pretty religious ballad "Blood of the Lamb," the goofy, kid-friendly anthem "Joe DiMaggio Done It Again," and, above all, the spellbinding "Remember the Mountain Bed." On this last number, Tweedy's pensive rendition of Guthrie's 11 romantic verses—and the band's subtly gorgeous backdrop of piano, organ, and acoustic guitar—make for one of Wilco's most essential tracks.

Customer Reviews

from Woody Guthrie's Treasure Chest

My Favorites Airline to Heaven, My Flying Saucer, and Secret of the Sea. Coast to Coast AM show should use My Flying Saucer for bumper music, but have yet to hear on Coast.

Tweedy fronted songs are woth buying

This follow up to Vol. 1 follows a very similar formula. Again, all of the songs sung by Tweedy are keepers and the Bragg songs are weakly sung throwaways. So I again found myself deleting roughly every other song on the album. Much like last time, it seems clear that the Bragg songs would also be keepers if Jeff had sang them as well. Bragg doesn't sing badly, it's just that his vocals aren't entertaining enough, leaving most of his songs boring snoozers.

In all, I kept 8 songs. There were two 4 star songs in Mountain Bed and Secrets of the Sea. I did keep one Bragg song in Flying Saucer, which is a 2 star song. The remaining five songs by Tweedy were also keepers and rated 3 stars.


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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