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Mermaid Avenue Volume 2

4.1 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 30 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Elektra Entertain.
  • ASIN: B00004TBES
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  LP Record
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #6,788 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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1. Airline To Heaven
2. My Flying Saucer
3. Feed Of Man
4. Hot Rod Hotel
5. I Was Born
6. Secrets Of The Sea
7. Stetson Kennedy
8. Remember The Mountain Bed
9. Blood Of The Lamb
10. Against The Law
11. All You Fascists Are Bound To Lose
12. Joe DiMaggio Done It Again
13. Meanest Man
14. Black Wind Blowing
15. Someday, Some Morning, Sometime

Product Description

Product Description

No Description Available
No Track Information Available
Media Type: CD
Street Release Date: 05/30/2000


Who knew that after the undeniable, sometimes shimmering, sometimes rustic magic of Mermaid Avenue that there was enough quality material for a second volume? By setting their own music to Woody Guthrie's lyrics, Billy Bragg and Wilco once again offer a 50-minute testament to Guthrie's long, dynamic shadow. This sophomore meeting is as balanced between the up-tempo and the down-tempo as was the first volume. Jeff Tweedy's rasp gives all the Wilco-driven tunes a certain grit, and the songs Bragg takes on have a luminescent, frank earnestness that intensifies the delivery of Guthrie's lyrical social critiques. "Hot Rod Hotel", with Bragg handling the vocals, melds the two approaches best, and "Secret of the Sea" is the album's most pop-like centrepiece. Natalie Merchant's playful "I Was Born" is brief but sweet, just as blues-man Corey Harris's "Against the Law" is an uplift, with his passionate vocal wail mirroring the political gist of Guthrie's words. The moody closers, "Black Wind Blowing" and "Someday, Some Morning, Sometime" end Mermaid Avenue Volume 2 with a pair of sweetly sad gems, one a Bragg-sung folk blues that mourns the loss of cotton crops in the American dustbowl era, the other a Tweedy-sung paean to lost love. --Andrew Bartlett

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I was born and bred on rock and roll, but lately I've been more interested in jazz, world music and classical. I'm not really enthusiastic about folk music, but I listen to it from time to time. When I pulled this album from the bin at the library, it was because I had heard some Billy Bragg before and thought it was interesting. I knew nothing of Jeff Tweedy and Wilco. This disk blew me away- ecclectic, original, different yet familiar, I think every track is a winner, even though I like some better than others. Certainly if you are sick of listening to the same old stuff, this is a great mixture of rock, blues, bluegrass, folk, and musical styles that should just be filed under "other." I enjoyed this sequqal much more than the first "Mermaid Avenue" disk- but judging from the other reviews this is an issue of personal taste. Then again, isn't music like that to begin with? I appreciate Woody Guthrie a whole lot more now, and I think it's tremendous what modern independant musicians have done with material from a previous generation. Definately check this disk out- I think it belongs in any serious music lover's collection.
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Format: Audio CD
I've got to agree more with the naysayers on this album. While not as "bad" as some make it out to be, in my opinion, 5 stars is just a gut reaction that some diehard fans have given to their boys.
Everything about the album screams out that it is just leftover material (even if it isn't, and honestly, I don't know). The CD even looks the same as the first one!
Ultimately, that's really not important, however. Musically, which is where it counts, the first half of the album is more or less consistent and yes, pleasant and interesting to listen to. However, there are just too many songs on here that are muddy, sloppy, and plain "ugly" to listen to. Write it off to artistic creativity if you will, and certainly, an artist can do as he/she pleases, but even Woody himself once said songs that make you feel bad are not good songs - these songs, while not the "downers" that I believe he was referring to, make my ears feel bad!
I keep listening to this CD in the hopes that it will "click" for me, and work together as a whole album, but I just find myself continuing to want to skip past so many songs on this album, and just listen to a handful of songs.
Wilco fans will hate me, but perhaps I liked Vol. 1 so much more than this one is because Wilco didn't sound so much like themselves!! Even though not a commercial success the band is still waaay overrated in my opinion.
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Format: Audio CD
I don't know how to write or play or record music, but I can only assume that setting 50-year-old lyrics to instrumentation of one's own device is a pretty hard row to hoe. More than likely, attempting to put two completely separate ends of the musical spectrum alongside each other is excruciating, let alone bringing them together to accomplish such an aformentioned task of updating ancient lyrics. Perhaps even harder than both these premises is repeating it for a second time around. On "Mermaid Avenue, vol. II", Billy Bragg and Wilco achieve all three, and then some.
The exhilarating opening track, "Airline To Heaven", is awash with a synthesized, thumping beat remininscent of the Beatles' reprise of "Sgt. Pepper", a pounding slide guitar adding emphasis to just about every line, and a heart-wrenching delivery that must be what Bob Dylan would have sounded like if he recorded "The Freewheelin'" in the year 2000. On the same token, "Feed of Man" wouldn't sound too out of place on any Animals record, and "Blood Of The Lamb" is what "Whisky Bar" would have been if Jim Morrison had experimented with the New Testament instead of LSD.
The combined influences of new and old pop/rock throughout the disc compliment the words just a tad better than the first volume, and both Bragg and Wilco's Jeff Tweedy pour them out with such conviction, you have to believe every little phrase they sing. Corey Harris, who put some work into volume one, gets his chance at the mic on this album on the upbeat blues number "Against Th' Law", and shines brightly, as does Natalie Merchant on "I Was Born", even if it's a bit of a repeat from her appearance on the previous record.
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Format: Audio CD
They say that artists have their entire lives to record their first album, and six months to produce their second. That's the impression one gets from hearing Billy Bragg and Wilco on "Mermaid Avenue Vol. II."
As other reviewers have noticed, this release is a pale imitation of the original. There are some good songs here, and the best tunes really shine. It's hard not to like "Aginst Th' Law," "My Flying Saucer," and "Secret of the Sea"--even if the catchiest riffs are all borrowed from Buddy Holly and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Generally speaking, the material works well lyrically (Woody Guthrie's down-to-earth idealism and progressive social criticism remain as refreshing as ever), but the music just isn't equal to the words. Whereas the first "Mermaid Avenue" was clearly a labor of love in which everyone involved seemed to be taking the time to create something extraordinary, this album sounds like it was hurriedly pieced together to capitalize on the success of its predecessor.
As a fan of Billy Bragg, Wilco, and the late, great Woody Guthrie, too, I really had high expectations for this second anthology of new material from the Guthrie archives. And there are a few fine tracks on this collection. However, by and large, the populist broadsides are heavy-handed and the romantic ballads are, by turns, sketchy, silly, and/or just plain thin. For all the playful charm of "I Was Born," as sung by Natalie Merchant, "Airline to Heaven" is indeed almost incoherent with its raw, grating clamor of badly mixed instruments, and "All You Fascists" is as simple-minded as it is politically correct.
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