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Charm Of The Highway Strip

Magnetic Fields Audio CD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 18.12 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought

Product Details

1. Lonely Highway
2. Long Vermont Roads
3. Born On A Train
4. I Have The Moon
5. Two Characters In Search Of A Country Song
6. Crowd Of Drifters
7. Fear Of Trains
8. When The Open Road Is Closing In
9. Sunset City
10. Dust Bowl

Product Description


Sweet and sour, incurably romantic, and deeply misanthropic, Magnetic Fields' mastermind Stephin Merritt is a one-of-a-kind voice in modern lo-fi pop. This 1994 outing is a bit of a departure, with Merritt taking his trademark ABBA-styled Casio-pop for a spin in the country--literally. Awash in lush, Nashville-ready production, songs like the doleful "Lonely Highway" (which encompasses snatches of the Lee Hazelwood classic "Jackson") and "Born on a Train" are nothing short of thrilling. But much of this particular stretch of the Fields is lacking in charm, since Merritt's wry stance chafes a bit too hard against the guileless melodies. Completists may feel compelled to take a ride, but novices should probably stick to the more urbane journeys offered by Holiday and Distant Plastic Trees. --David Sprague

Product Description

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Merrit's road album May 17 2001
Format:Audio CD
Merrit is by no means the best country crooner this world's ever seen, but this is probably the closest you'll see Merrit get to doing a country album (short of a couple songs on 69 Love songs). For what it's worth, he succeeds in producing the best (and possibly the only) indie/lo fi road album in the world. Musically, the songs are like old fashioned country with synthesizers. The result is nothing short of amazing, espeically with Merrit's strong lyrics. Merrit's Peter Murphyesque baritone suits the songs fine, as he sings such songs as the opener Lonely Highway and Born on a Train. Highlights are Born On A Train, where he remarks "Some roads are only seen at night/ghost roads - nothing but neon signs/but some nights the enon gas gets free/and tunrs into walking dead like me." I Have the Moon and Long Vermont Roads have similar themes of traveling the long ronely roads. Merrit goes full fledged goth on Crowd of Drifters, where he sings as a "traveling salesman/I got lost in a crowd of drifters." Basically the album reads like a Bauhaus travelogue with country guitars and synthesizers, all to amazing degrees of effect.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Melancholy Blips Oct. 27 2001
Format:Audio CD
"After all those days/ on godforsaken highways/ the roads don't love you/ and they still won't pretend to" has got to be one of the best choruses ever in any song. Stephin Merritt has got to be one of the best songwriters around. And "The Charm of the Highway Strip" has got to be one of his best efforts. These songs about life on the "Lonely Highway" may all be sad, but they're all good. He meshes the oddly uncheesy blips of cheap keyboards with cello and guitar in the same beautiful way he always has, but this time it seems to have more meaning. He covers love, the expansion of the west, and above all, traveling, but the overall effect is the one described in the chorus to another gorgeous song, which goes "When the open road is closing in/ and the dotted yellow lines begin to spin."
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5.0 out of 5 stars this album charmed me senseless Jan. 12 2004
Format:Audio CD
Seriously, if you are a magnetic fields fan, BUY THIS. You may not prefer the more dark, country, sound of this album as opposed to the often springy 69 love songs, but i guarantee you, there is no way not to fall in love with this album. By my second listen, this album was already sacred to me, and right now it is sitting in its case after my last spurt of listenings, waiting patiently until the time is right for me to take it out again. My nightmare would be to overplay this album. Stephen Merrit's low voice will make you feel lonely as he sings of a girl's fear of trains, or a lonesome highway, but at the same time he soothes you, in making you too feel like an explorer on some vast, endless highway. The songs on this album make you feel that while you may be lonely, it's an almost noble thing to be.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate nighttime travel companion Sept. 13 1999
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
Most people who listen to the Magnetic Fields tend to prefer Stephin Merritt's more pop-oriented releases like HOLIDAY or DISTANT PLASTIC TREES/THE WAYWARD BUS. True, Merritt excels at creating beautiful ABBAesque homemade songs and often resembles a modern-day Phil Spector. However, THE CHARM OF THE HIGHWAY STRIP is unquestionably my favorite Magnetic Fields release. It is likely due to the consistent travel theme throughout -- a cohesiveness that lacks in his previous efforts. If you are looking for catchy singles, I'd suggest the other albums -- they offer some great immediate fixes. But if you are like me, and prefer the complexities of a forty-minute mini-concept album, this one is for you. It is a gorgeous collection of dark songs combined with the Stephin Merritt's usual wit.
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5.0 out of 5 stars sad gorgeous americana May 17 2002
Format:Audio CD
I will shamelessly say that Stephan Merritt's voice soaring sadly with the lyrics "your eyes are the mesa verde/big and brown and far away" never fail to cause the little sharp pricklings behind my eyes that are the precursors of tears. This album makes me want nothing more than to drive the miles of lonely roads that these songs deal with so beautifully, in a pair of cowboy boots and a sunburn. Merritt has never sounded better, his thick voice wrapping the lyrics in warm wooly blankets of sound and not twanging too much over what are really country songs with a few indy rock effects thrown in for good measure. And why not mix country with indy rock? It's pure americana, baby, and it makes me homesick like a motha.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The essential Magnetic Fields recording. Oct. 14 2000
By "xmw"
Format:Audio CD
I recommend this album for those curious about Magnetic Fields but intimidated by the sprawl (and cost) of "69 Love Songs". "Charm" is a warm, yet detached, study of the Country idiom that evokes the constant loss and loneliness of a transient lifestyle. The music is composed of unique and creative synthetic textures cast over common chord progressions, and a listener familiar with the Country music of the 60s and 70s will recognize many familiar melodies and themes. The vocals are reminiscent of a dispassionate Ian Curtis or Johnny Cash. I have no qualms about calling "Charm" the essential Magnetic Fields recording -- I bought this album in 1995 and have not exhausted it yet.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Yaz heads West
Could it possibly be the first electronic country record ever? It is Yaz meets the American West. Complete with cold chilly sometimes bouncy beats, Stephen Merritt croons of... Read more
Published on July 24 2003 by K. Hernandez
5.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction to the Magnetic Fields.
Even though this is diffrent from other Magnetic Fields cds, I would say it's a good place to start. It's by far their most consistant album. All the songs on here are standouts. Read more
Published on March 28 2003 by "thecenturyoffakers"
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous uses of technology!
While CERTAINLY not techno (that realm encompassing entirely computer-generated and simulated noises), the Magnetic Fields present us with a gentler view through technology,... Read more
Published on July 21 2000 by Collin M. David
4.0 out of 5 stars cold and warm
the magnetic fields prove that techno music doesn't have to be all shallow facade -- it can be honest, melodic, and heartfelt if the songs are up to the task. Read more
Published on Oct. 7 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Magnetic Fields Album Ever
Don't be fooled by the number of times 'ABBA' is repeated in the reviews of this CD--there's a fair dose of Leonard Cohen here too. Read more
Published on Dec 6 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnetic Fields are an Amazing Indie band and full of life!
This CD really Impressed me. I am not a long time MF fan, but I picked up this album 'bout a month ago and was blown away. Read more
Published on Nov. 29 1998
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