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Mermaid Avenue Vol. II
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Tracks

1. Airline To Heaven

2. My Flying Saucer

3. Feed Of Man

4. Hot Rod Hotel

5. I Was Born

6. Secret Of The Sea

7. Stetson Kennedy

8. Remember The Mountain Bed

9. Blood Of The Lamb

10. Aginst Th' Law

11. All You Fascists

12. Joe Dimaggio Done It Again

13. Meanest Man

14. Black Wind Blowing

15. Someday Some Morning Sometime

Performer Notes
  • MERMAID AVENUE VOLUME 2 is the second collection of previously unrecorded Woody Guthrie lyrics set to music by Billy Bragg and Wilco.
  • Personnel: Billy Bragg (vocals, acoustic & electric guitars); Jay Bennett (12-string acoustic & slide guitars, banjo, mandolin, sitar, harmonica, piano, Farfisa & Hammond B-3 organs, acoustic bass, drums, shaker, tambourine, bells, background vocals); Jeff Tweedy (acoustic, electric & 12-string guitars, mandolin, synthesizer, cabasa, background vocals); Bob Egan (slide guitar); Eliza Carthy (violin); Ben Ivitsky (mandolin); Leroy Bach (piano); Mike Henry (background vocals).
  • Additional personnel: Natalie Merchant (vocals); Corey Harris (acoustic & electric guitars, background vocals).
  • Producers: Wilco, Billy Bragg, Showbiz.
  • Engineers: Jerry Boys, Dave Trumfio, Mike Hagler.
  • Recorded at Totally Wired Studios, Dublin, Ireland; King Size Sound Laboratories & The Loft, Chicago, Illinois; Fort Apache Studios, Boston, Massachussetts. Includes liner notes by Billy Bragg.
  • MERMAID AVENUE VOL. 2 was nominated for the 2001 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album.
  • Personnel: Billy Bragg (acoustic guitar); Jeff Tweedy (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandolin, Mellotron); John Stirratt, Natalie Merchant (vocals); Jay Bennett (acoustic 12-string guitar, banjo, organ, shaker, musical saw); Ken Coomer (drums, tambourine, percussion).
  • Recording information: Totally Wired Studio, Dublin, Ireland.
  • When Billy Bragg and Wilco completed 1998's MERMAID AVENUE, everyone involved recognized that this ambitious project's overflowing creative juices necessitated a follow-up. Like its predecessor, VOL. II has the aforementioned artists setting a batch of unfinished Woody Guthrie lyrics, provided by the legendary folk singer's daughter Nora, to music. This time out, the approach is harder-edged but once again rambles all over the musical map.
  • The lo-fi flavored nugget "Meanest Man" finds Bragg affecting a Tom Waits-like delivery, while the snarling rave-up "All You Fascists" indicates that Guthrie may have been folk's first punk. Elsewhere, Wilco flies solo in creating a gloriously Byrdsian aura around the chiming "Secret of the Sea" while Bragg provides music but no accompaniment on the all-American hillbilly hoedown "Joe DiMaggio's Done It Again." Natalie Merchant returns to provide a sweet vocal cameo on the lilting "I Was Born," and blues revivalist Corey Harris gives life to Guthrie's sarcasm on the rollicking "Aginst Th' Law." Other highlights include Jeff Tweedy's Dylanish inflection on the chugging "Airline to Heaven" and Bragg's Bobby Fuller Four-like arrangement of "My Flying Saucer."
Professional Reviews
Rolling Stone (6/22/00, p.130) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...Blasts the verbal buckshot....bringing us closest to Guthrie's inner world....what really matters here are the songs themselves..."

Spin (7/00, pp.159-60) - 7 out of 10 - "...Bragg and Wilco have delivered modest, elegantly simple renditions of [Woody Guthrie's] lyrics, humanizing history yet again..."

Entertainment Weekly (6/2/00, p.78) - "A shameless retread of an inspired idea, but so what?...this collective seems to have countless fresh rock-folk hybrids to showcase [Woody Guthrie's music lyrics]..." - Rating: B+

Q (7/00, p.112) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...Proves the equivalent of its parent release....showing grace...as they transform both the Dylanesque 'Feed Of Man' and the best song The Carter Family never cut, 'Blood On The Lamb' into Summerteeth outtakes..."

Magnet (1-2/01, p.44) - Included in Magnet's "20 Best Albums of 2000" - "Another luminous batch of dead-letter lyrics from Woody Guthrie turn up in the Wilco/Billy Bragg mailbag....reading better late than never..."

CMJ (5/29/00, p.3) - "...Bragg, Wilco and Guthrie [are] 3 principled artists sharing sharp criticisms about the worker's plight and some honest stories of love...clearly taking a turn from pure folk toward a harder edge..."

No Depression (7-8/00, pp.98-100) - "...Not only a great history lesson in what might have been, but also pure pop pleasure in any time and place."

Mojo (Publisher) (7/00, p.106) - "...The emotion flows as true as the music....VOLUME 2 sounds nothing like Guthrie - and exactly right."
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