Billy Bragg & Wilco: Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions
It was an idea that never should have worked. A British folk-rocker joins up with alt-country outliers to put music to the unreleased lyrics of Woody Guthrie. It wouldn’t have surprised anyone if it had diminished the reputation of all involved.
Instead, Mermaid Avenue, performed by Billy Bragg and Wilco and released in 1998, was a revelation, proof that Guthrie was far more than the populist, fascist-bashing folkie that he was often perceived to be. He was also capable of startlingly personal songwriting that was far ahead of its time. Volume 2 was released just two years later to more raves.