Monday, 27 April 2009

Mermaid Avenue II

The weekend over and so back to my in car listening. Today it is the second volume of Billy Bragg and Wilco putting music to the songs of Woody Guthrie, Mermaid Avenue II.
This was the last CD I ever bought by Billy Bragg, I was where he was concerned a completist and do have his albums over multiple formats, this particular album is the promo version.
As a result of the documentary that accompanied the release of the first Mermaid Avenue album, I had a dislike towards Wilco that really hasn’t changed all that much, but that isn’t the reason for this album being the last Billy Bragg album I bought.
Lets suppose this album is two EP’s, one Billy Bragg and the other Wilco and the other off tracks, lets forget about those for now.
Billy Bragg, OK, the thing with Billy Bragg and THE thing that makes him famous are his lyrics, the barking bard of Barking, he is reliant on his turn of phrase and his ability to lyricise (if that isn’t a word, it is now), so I always found listening to his songs on Mermaid Avenue, both volumes, difficult and found it difficult to believe him, an Essex boy singing about cotton fields, it just wasn’t authentic and it was at times painful listening to it. No doubt Billys heart was in the right place but it didn’t seem for real as we know that Billy didn’t live that life. At least when Billy did World turned upside down, he was giving a commentary, you didn’t think he lived in the 17th century, but he made Leon Rosselsons words his own, but I think a whole generation and a different continent was a step too far for him and this put me off his work so much. Coming back to his work on this album, my opinion really hasn’t changed, musically and lyrically the songs sung by Billy are very very good, but I don’t believe him, I don’t even come close to believing him and that’s a pity. 5 out of 10.
Wilcos songs are a different story altogether, and I wonder if that’s why they are on Mermaid Avanue II, to add that authenticity, as the songs they perform are the more heartfelt, but also stronger and no you aren’t transported back to the dustbowl, but you are taken some where and although Jeff Tweedy isn’t Woody, he is more believable than Billy. Their work on this album made me want to investigate Wilco further and their songs along with Natalie Merchant and Corey Harris’s contributions are by far the best on the album, and therefore 9 out of 10, extremely enjoyable and the average being 7 out of 10 for Mermaid Avenue II

Blood of The Lamb by Billy Bragg & Wilco

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