Yesterday, I gave my praises to Elvis Costello and Allen Touissant’s The River in Reverse. It’s a rare breed of an album – a true collaboration whether neither artist is overshadowed by the other. Here’s another of my favorite collaboration albums. (Note: I know there a tons of jazz albums in this category, but unfortunately my jazz collection is somewhat lacking.
Billy Bragg & Wilco – Mermaid Avenue
This collaboration is in my top 10 albums of all time. Taking unfinished Woody Guthrie lyrics as the starting point Billy Bragg and Wilco create gem of a record. Both artists update Guthrie’s lyrics but still retain the spirit of his work. The album begins with the hysterical “Walt Whitman’s Niece” with its call and refrain. (Key lyric: “And as she read, I laid my head. But I can’t tell which head.”) Then there’s the gorgeous “California Stars”. If you never believed in just running off to get away from it all, this song might change your mind. Of course not of all of it is fun – being an album full of Woody Guthrie lyrics. “Eisler on the Go” is Guthrie’s response to Han Eisler being deported by the US Government during the Cold War. If I can’t think of an album to listen to, I almost always pick up Mermaid Avenue and am never disappointed.