Mermaid Avenue Volume 2
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Media Type: CD
Artist: BRAGG,BILLY & WILCO
Title: VOL. 2-MERMAID AVE.
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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
remember the mountain bed!!!!!!!!!!!!!awesome!!!!!!!!say what you like, think what you will, but this song is worth the whole album. Read morePublished on June 10 2003
If like me you bought Mermaid Avenue Volume 1 and liked it, but wondered if there was enough to go around for second CD - don't worry, there is. Read morePublished on March 16 2003 by L. Howard
I liked all the Wilco songs, but Billy Bragg wasn't all that great. The former still makes it a worthwhile purchase. Read morePublished on March 10 2002 by twinky buttspong
When I first heard the concept behind this album, I became very intrigued--writing new, original music to old Woody Guthrie lyrics. Read morePublished on Sept. 3 2001 by Phillip Hatzenbuehler
If you never heard the 1st CD, this one is really fresh. If you hear the first one first, maybe you won't like it as well. I think that 5 or 6 tracks are really outstanding. Read morePublished on June 25 2001
Bragg is great, but Corey outshines everybody with a single track. This is a good CD, but not as good as Volume 1. It doesn't quite have the same energy or drive as the first one.Published on April 13 2001 by Michael Brumitt
If you loved Mermaid Ave. the first time around, then don't spoil it by buying the mediocre follow up. Read morePublished on Nov. 26 2000 by Frank
I loved the first Mermaid Avenue--the spirit of Woody's words were captured so exquisitely. Mermaid Avenue II is a huge disappointment. Read morePublished on Aug. 9 2000
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