Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions

1998's Mermaid Avenue rewrote Woody Guthrie's history through his unrecorded lyrics, revealing the joker, lover, boozer and horndog behind the icon. It let the artists rewrite themselves, too: Billy Bragg, the British folkie agitator, turned goofier ("My Flying Saucer"), while Wilco turned rootsier ("California Stars"). The selling point of this four-disc set is a third CD of new songs – weaker than the first two despite some gems like Bragg’'s deeply English ballad "Go Down to the Water" – and a DVD documentary that shows the rocky road to lasting art.

Listen to 'Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Collection':

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Photos: Random Notes

From The Archives Issue 1155: April 26, 2012