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Billy Bragg & Wilco – Mermaid Avenue (1998)

April 15, 2012

[Album 39/1001]

If Sweetheart of the Rodeo (1968) was one of the first country rock records, 1998’s Mermaid Avenue may just represent the genre’s finest offering to date.

Consider the opening track, Walt Whitman’s Niece: It’s impossible not to participate in the call-back vocals.

On the simple yet irresistable California Stars, Jeff Tweedy’s vocals are perfectly pleasant.  A few songs later, on Hoodoo Voodoo, he sounds like John Lennon at the end of Twist and Shout – his vocal folds are barely hanging on!

The slide guitar on She Came Along to Me is fantastic & the Billy Bragg/Natalie Merchant duet vocal on Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key is particularly memorable.

We’ll never know how these Woody Guthrie lyrics would have sounded as performed by the lyricist himself, which is likely part of what makes this collection so special. 

A keeper on every level.

From → 1990s

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