ON THE TURNTABLE: Billy Bragg & Wilco – Mermaid Avenue

ON THE TURNTABLE: Billy Bragg & Wilco - Mermaid Avenue

Short, sharp and frank reviews from a confessed vinyl junkie. I’ll be posting my most loved records and most recent purchases right here for your perusal every week.

Mermaid Avenue was the street on which the legendary Folk singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie lived in Coney Island, New York. It’s also the first album’s title that Billy Bragg & Wilco worked on together. The project would end up lasting over a decade, and the pair would release three albums, the first of which came out in 1998 and remains an all-time favourite of mine.

It’s an astonishing piece of work involving both Billy and Wilco creating music from unheard Guthrie lyrics unearthed by his daughter Nora. It’s amazing to hear their interpretations of songs that were never recorded, and you have to wonder what Woody would’ve thought.

The album bursts open with the singalong anthem ‘Walt Whitman’s Neice’ before slowing right down for one of the most beautiful ballads I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing, ‘California Stars’. ‘Way Over Yonder In The Minor Key’ follows with Billy singing “, There ain’t nobody that can sing like me”, undoubtedly there isn’t, and I was over the moon to hear him play this in a set at his Albert Hall gig in Manchester recently.

The album continues in this vein of ballads and feel-good anthems throughout; if there is a musical equivalent to Jack Kerouac’s classic ‘On The Road’, then somehow, this is it. A gorgeous album, performed beautifully and meticulously by two greats of the Folk scene.

Listen to ‘Mermaid Avenue’ – BELOW:

Xsnoize Author
Sean Crossey 83 Articles
Sean is based in Manchester; his favourite artists include James Brown, MF Doom, The National, Bon Iver, Radiohead, Eric B & Rakim, Aretha Franklin, Serge Gainsbourg, John Lennon and Public Enemy. Sean has also been a promoter, DJ and a failed musician. Nowadays he resides in the Northern Quarter of Manchester and is a vinyl junkie, sneaker collector and MCFC fan.

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